Round Lake is a small state park about 10 miles south of Sandpoint. It features 3 hiking trails of which the Trapper Trail is by far the most picturesque, as it closely skirts the lake’s shore. Along the trail are frequent signs of beaver activity, including felled trees, lodges, and dams. There’s a good chance other wildlife, such as squirrels, turtles, deer, and many kinds of water fowl can be spotted, too.
|Elevation Gain||100 feet|
|High Point||2,195 feet|
|Water||Potable water at trailhead|
|Status||Round Lake State Park|
|Conditions||The entire trail system is well-maintained.|
|Camping||Campsites, electricity, showers, flush toilets, dump station; the whole works|
|Trailhead||From Sandpoint take US-95 south to Dufour Road and turn right. From Coeur d’Alene take US-95 north for 35 miles, then turn left onto Dufour Road. Stay on Dufour Road for 1.9 miles, then turn left onto Mirror Lake Road. There is parking near the beach.|
|Squirrel Density||Plenty. Even treed a squirrel while leashed!|
|Date||November 26, 2016|
Of the three trails, the Stewardship Trail is the longest, but also the most boring, consisting primarily of forest roads. To start out westwards, you have your choice of Stewardship Trail (the wide forest road a bit up from the beach) or the Trapper trail (down near the beach). The Trapper Trail is a single-track that skirts the lake’s shore very closely, proving up-close views of beaver activity as well as broad views of the lake. The trail continues along the northwester edge of the lake, then follows its outlet through a marshy area (a good place to watch turtles sunning themselves on logs). Cocolalla creek flows to the left as the trail meanders along its bank, enabling a good look at the series of dams along this stretch. As the trail approaches a bridge, take a right and head uphill to rejoin the Stewardship Trail. Turn left and follow the wide path through the woods, with views of the creek below. Eventually the trail emerges onto an open area with a second, smaller pond and a waterfall. A bridge crosses the falls, then the trail leads steeply uphill, the steepest part of this all-but-flat hike. Just before reaching the forest road above, turn left and take the single-track through the woods, bearing right whenever the trail’s direction seems murky. Eventually the trail meets up with the forest road again and follows it for a good bit. Then, a sign, labeled “Trail”, points downhill. Take this to get back to the Trapper Trail. Turn right and follow the creek once again, this time high above, with good views of the dams. Staying higher up on the hill, the trail moves along the creek and the southern end of the lake, but steadily loses altitude. By the time it turns north, the trail is level with the lake. Now the path moves through a small cedar grove, then low shrubbery, and finally reeds as it approaches the lake’s inlet. A bridge spans the inlet for easy crossing, and a series of boardwalks makes traversing the muddier sections child’s play. The trail then turns westwards and leads to the optional Swamp Tromp, a quarter-mile loop that brings you to the edge of the lake and some fantastic views. Once back on Trapper Trail, turn left and continue along the lake’s shore back to the beach and the parking lot. Enjoy the pictures!
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