Liberty Lake Loop

Contrary to its name, the Liberty Lake loop trail does not actually circumvent the lake. Rather, it follows meandering Liberty Creek closely, at first through marshes, then deciduous woods, and finally extensive patches of towering Western red cedar. The trail then steeply ascends a flank of Mica Peak and dazzles the hiker with a series of waterfalls slipping and sliding over smooth rock slabs. While views are limited mostly to the Idaho mountains, the trail’s moss-covered riverbanks, beaver-built marshes, gurgling waterfalls, and varied wildlife make this a popular destination.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 2.5 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (some uphill hiking)
Distance 10.0 miles
Duration 3:16 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 1,449 feet
High Point 3,694 feet (logging road above cabin)
Low Point 2,043 feet (Lake)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed Packed dirt; decommissioned forest roads
Water Plentiful along creeks, but scarce on logging road and western ridge
Status County Park
Administration Liberty Lake Regional Park
Permits None required. $2/person entrance fee between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Conditions The trails were in excellent shape.
Camping There is a campground near the trailhead.
Maps USGS Mica Peak, Liberty Lake
Trailhead From the I-90 Liberty Lake exit take Appleway east to N Molter Road. Stay on Molter for a bit over a mile, then turn left on E Valleyway Avenue. Stay on Valleyway, which will turn into Lakeside, for about 2.5 miles, then take a right on S Zephyr Road. You will enter the park within less than half a mile.

Google Directions (47.637171, -117.060733)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Great. Now about those leash laws….
Features Waterfall, Grove
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 20.5 miles
  • Lewiston 124.1 miles
  • Sandpoint 59.1 miles
  • Seattle 298.3 miles
  • Spokane 20.5 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date November 5, 2016

Liberty Lake MarshFrom the parking lot, the trail turns away from the beach and lake to the west and heads south across an extensive lawn, sprinkled with facilities, including gazebos and restrooms. At the end of the lawn the trail emerges onto the campground, which it bisects. A trailmap is posted near the end of the campground. The trail then parallels a marshy area for about a mile, with informative placards explaining the evolution of the creek delta and the work of the busy beavers.

Moss-covered riverbanks along Liberty CreekThe trail then splits; bear left and enter the forested area. The trail now closely follows Liberty Creek, climbing steadily but not steeply. At the first bridge you get a choice of either ascending on the East or West bank; the choice is yours as the trails will reunite shortly before reaching the cedar grove.

View of Liberty Lake from last switchbackAt the cedar grove the trail crosses Liberty Creek and ascends the steep flank of Mica Peak in countless switchbacks. The last one of those switchbacks (around the 3-mile mark) offer views of Liberty Lake and the city beyond and this is essentially the only time such views are offered.

WaterfallThe trail levels off and hugs the hillside closely, with the tree canopy occasionally opening up enough to allow views of the Idaho mountains across the valley. The climb continues at a more gradual pace, and the trail weaves in and out of smaller canyons, some exceedingly dark and shady and almost forlorn. One of them surprises with a waterfall sliding down a sheer rock slab, and, after a steep climb, offers several repeats higher up. Eventually the trail emerges onto an intersection.

More mushroomsAt the intersection go straight (left leads to “More Trails”, meaning former logging roads, right leads back to the trailhead for a shorter 7-8 mile hike); straight leads higher and to an outhouse. To the right, a short way downhill, is Hughes Cabin, equipped with cots if you’re in need of a quick nap. Turn left, however, and uphill, steeply and without the aid of switchbacks. The trail gains over 300 feet in altitude in very short order and then emerges onto a decommissioned logging road (take a right), which it follows pleasantly and almost levelly to the saddle below Mica Peak (around the 6-mile mark).

Uprooted tree on saddle below Mica PeakHere you have the option to go south and take on the steep climb to Mica Peak. Otherwise, head north and take the trail dropping into the valley below (not the jeep road that straddles the ridge). The downhill run is rather uneventful and fairly steep in places. At the bottom the trail splits. You can try to go directly across the marsh, but depending on the water level this may not be possible. The safer route loops back south along Liberty Creek for a bit, ultimately crossing it by means of a nice wooden bridge. Shortly afterwards the trail reunites with the outgoing trail and all that’s left is a mile back to the parking lot.

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Liberty lake and marsh with viewing platform
Liberty lake and marsh with viewing platform
Liberty Lake Marsh
Liberty Lake Marsh
Mushrooms
Mushrooms
Deer hiding in marsh
Deer hiding in marsh
Rustic bridge across Liberty Creek
Rustic bridge across Liberty Creek
Liberty Creek
Liberty Creek
Beaver-felled trees
Beaver-felled trees
Moss-covered riverbanks along Liberty Creek
Moss-covered riverbanks along Liberty Creek
Cedar Grove
Cedar Grove
Liberty Creek near cedar grove
Liberty Creek near cedar grove
Steep trail up flank of Mica Peak
Steep trail up flank of Mica Peak
View of Liberty Lake from last switchback
View of Liberty Lake from last switchback
Mushroom
Mushroom
Views of Idaho mountains
Views of Idaho mountains
Waterfall
Waterfall
Yours Truly, above the waterfall
Yours Truly, above the waterfall
Water sliding across rock slabs
Water sliding across rock slabs
More mushrooms
More mushrooms
View from logging road
View from logging road
Former logging road
Former logging road
Time for a mud bath!
Time for a mud bath!
Saddle below Mica Peak
Saddle below Mica Peak
Uprooted tree on saddle below Mica Peak
Uprooted tree on saddle below Mica Peak
Trail leading downhill
Trail leading downhill
And even more mushrooms
And even more mushrooms
And then some more mushrooms
And then some more mushrooms
Yet more mushrooms
Yet more mushrooms
Trail near bottom of hill
Trail near bottom of hill
Trailmap

© 2016 – 2017 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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