Cougar Bay Loop

Cougar Bay is a conservation effort, with the Nature Conservancy and the BLM contributing two almost-adjacent parcels of land. The area is particularly well-known for a large variety of waterfowl, nesting ospreys, beavers, and otters. The trail winds 3+ miles along a wetland and through forest to a lookout platform with views of Coeur d’Alene, the lake, and the Spokane river.

Location Coeur d’Alene Mountains
Rating 2.7 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (some uphill; trail unmarked)
Distance 3.3 miles
Duration 1:59 hours moving time (snowshoeing)
Elevation Gain 557 feet
High Point 2,425 feet (Lookout platform)
Low Point 2,063 feet (Lake level)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed Packed dirt, road beds
Water None
Status Conservation Area
Administration Nature Conservancy, BLM
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent, but the trail in Conservancy section lacked markers
Camping Not allowed
Maps USGS Coeur d’Alene
Trailhead Take I-90 exit #12 (US-95) and head south for 4 miles. Take a left onto S McAvoy Road. There is parking at the dead-end.

Google Directions (47.659918, -116.835707)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Oh yeah!!!
Features Lake
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 4.1 miles
  • Lewiston 111.9 miles
  • Sandpoint 47.9 miles
  • Seattle 313.4 miles
  • Spokane 35.5 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date December 27, 2016

Huge tree with ...The trail starts in the Nature Conservancy portion, moving along the edge of the large wetland towards a prominent tall tree with a convenient bench. After about half a mile the Conservancy trail turns right, while the BLM trail continues along the wetland, meeting with the trail’s major attraction, a decomposing dozer, just before the 1-mile marker.

The trail winds...Then the trail moves up and into the forest, curls around the hillside towards a gate, but turns sharply backward away from the gate. It continues up an old fire road and comes to a Y. Take a left for a few switchbacks uphill to the viewing platform.

View of Coeur d...Take in the views, then retrace your steps and follow the logging road (ie, take a left at the Y). The trail remains in the woods with filtered views of the wetlands below. It reaches another gate and again moves towards the right just in front of it. Shortly before the 2-mile point the trail meets up with the original trail. Return via the orginal trail to the place where the Conservancy trail forked. This time, take the trail that leads uphill into the woods. It climbs steadily and ultimately crosses an old logging road.

Naughty looking...After crossing the logging road things get dicey. During the summer months the trail’s location is probably obvious, but covered deeply in snow there is virtually no evidence of a trail. Unlike the BLM section, the Conservancy section does not have any trail markers. We followed what looked reasonably like a trail, but it dead-ended in a brook. Trying to move higher up along the hillside brought us to several old logging roads, but they also went nowhere. Even further up is a blacktopped road, but we did not pursue that; instead, we returned to the logging road we had crossed earlier and followed it down to the parking lot.

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

Wetlands
Wetlands
Lichen
Lichen
There are interpretive signs along the Conservancy trail
There are interpretive signs along the Conservancy trail
Huge tree with bench and rosehips at the base
Huge tree with bench and rosehips at the base
The trail meandors along the wetland
The trail meandors along the wetland
Snowbank on edge of wetland
Snowbank on edge of wetland
The wetlands are covered with cattails
The wetlands are covered with cattails
An "attraction" on the BLM trail
An “attraction” on the BLM trail
Ocean spray covered with snow
Ocean spray covered with snow
Mosses hidden beneath snow
Mosses hidden beneath snow
The trail winds upwards to a lookout platform
The trail winds upwards to a lookout platform
View of Coeur d’Alene from platform
The trail follows an old fire road
The trail follows an old fire road
Several benches dot the trail
Several benches dot the trail
Wetlands viewed from above
Wetlands viewed from above
View south towards parking lot
View south towards parking lot
The Conservatory trail heads upwards into the woods
The Conservatory trail heads upwards into the woods
Naughty looking for the trail
Naughty looking for the trail
Trailmap

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One Comment Add yours

  1. julianne0919 says:

    I love ❤️ Naughty!

    Liked by 1 person

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