The opportunities to hike in the Sandpoint area are virtually limitless. If you intend to spend any amount of time exploring the trails in this vicinity you need to get yourself a guidebook or two and a local map. There are some excellent options available at the store.
That being said, we often get asked for suggestions of trails that are convenient to town and easily accessible for a half-day outing. Here are our picks, including a description for Scotchman Peak Trail, the official ass-kicker hike of the area that is a rite of passage for anyone wanting to claim bragging rights for their time in the backcountry.
Pend Oreille Bay Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles one way
Description: A flat walk along the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille just north of the City Beach in Sandpoint.
Trailhead: From the store, head south on First Ave, turn left on Bridge St. toward City Beach. Just after passing under the railroad, turn left (north) and continue paralleling the Best Western Hotel parking lot. Turn left at the end of the parking lot to continue on Sandpoint Ave to the trailhead parking at the gate to the water treatment plant.
Distance: 3.5 miles one way
Description: A great workout. You are climbing from the time you leave your car till you get to the top. Fantastic views start less then 15 minutes up the trail and get bigger and better the further you go up.
Trailhead: From the store, head north on First Ave, which becomes Cedar St. at a forced left. Follow Cedar west to Division St. Turn right on Division St. At the “T” turn left onto Baldy Rd. Bear right onto Great Northern Rd. At the “T” turn left across the RR tracks, then right on Woodland Dr and follow for 1/2 mile to the trailhead parking area on the left.
(FS Trail #3)
Length: 3.7 miles one way
Elevation Gain: 1500′
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
Description: A wonderful hike through various forest types leading to some of the prettiest views of Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint you’ll ever find.
Trailhead: Drive south on Hwy 95 to Lignite Rd. Turn left and continue straight across the railroad tracks onto Bottle Bay Rd. Continue 4 miles to the Trailhead parking lot on the right.
The Hike: The 3.7 mile climb up Gold Hill Trail #3 starts the moment you leave the parking lot. Great views present themselves occasionally, but this is basically a walk through the woods till you get within about 1/2 mile of the trail end when the big views present themselves. This is where most people turn around and head back down. A good choice for a hot summer day hike because the trail is north facing and nicely shaded.
Mineral Point – Lost Lake Loop
(FS Trail #82)
Length: 2.1 miles (one way)
Description: Beautiful trail high on a ridge above Lake Pend Oreille.
Trailhead: Drive south on Hwy 95 to Sagle Rd. Turn left and continue 7 miles where you take the right fork in the road to Garfield Bay. When you get down to the lake, watch for the road heading up the the hill to the left (not the campground road)…usually there is a Mineral Point sign. Go up the hill about 1/2 mile and turn right on FS Rd #532. Drive 3 miles to FS Rd #532A. Stop, look left and you’ll spot the access for the Lost Lake Loop. Turn right on #532A and continue a short way to the parking area.
The Hike: The trail starts as a wide graveled trail to the monument at Mineral Point. You’ll walk through cedar and ponderosa forests with some stunning views of the lake and the Green Monarchs. As you near the end you’ll enjoy a high overlook of Green Bay, the terminus of the trail and a great place to take a dip in the lake before heading back.
Scotchman Peak Trail
(FS Trail #65)
Distance: 4 miles one way
Elevation Gain: 3700 feet
Description: This is the highest peak in Bonner County. Fantastic views in all directions and a good chance of encountering some resident mountain goats are the rewards for your efforts in reaching the summit.
Trailhead: From Sandpoint, take highway 200 east to Clark Fork. Turn left on Main St and go 2.3 miles. Turn right on FS Rd #2295, go 1 mile and turn left on FS Rd #2294 for 1/2 mile. Finally, go left on FS Rd #2294A for 2.3 miles to the trailhead.
The Hike: It’s steep. You’ll climb from lower elevation forests through beautiful meadows to a subalpine terrain with a rocky rugged peak. Take lots of water, (there is none available once you leave the creek at the parking lot) and goodies. It can be pretty hot on the way up on a summer day. Plan on a full day to get up and down. You’ll want to hang out on the top for awhile. The trail is well used and easy to follow.