Gold Hill

Gold Hill lies just south of Sandpoint, across Lake Pend Oreille. Much of the ascent is densely forested, but the hill’s higher reaches boast of majestic views of the northern portion of the lake, the Cabinet and Selkirk mountains, and the city of Sandpoint. The incline is modest, as 52 switchbacks make short work of the 1,500-foot ascent.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 2.7 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate
Distance 7.3 miles
Duration 2:29 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 1,507 feet
High Point 3,671 feet (FR #2642)
Low Point 2,137 feet (trailhead)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Packed dirt
Water Seasonal runoff aside, there is a brook, accessible on and off for the first mile of the trail
Status Unprotected
Administration Idaho Panhandle National Forest
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent, snow aside
Camping None; stay on trails
Maps USGS Elmira, Talache
Trailhead From US-95, take Bottle Bay Road just south of Sandpoint and head east for about 5 miles. The trailhead is marked and on your right.

Google Directions (48.262385, -116.492999)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Fabulous!
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 47.2 miles
  • Lewiston 160.9 miles
  • Sandpoint 8.6 miles
  • Seattle 351.4 miles
  • Spokane 73.5 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date April 1, 2017

TrailheadThe trail starts just off Bottle Bay Road, at a small trailhead equipped with a restroom and accommodations for perhaps 5 or 6 cars. Gold Hill is very steep in this first section, which the trail makes palatable via a sheer endless series of switchbacks. A small, likely seasonal, brook can be seen (and heard) to the left and is revisited four or five times as the trail weaves back and forth and up and up.

Filtered views of Lake Pend Oreille at first benchThe trail moves through fairly dense forest, which severely limits any views of the lake; however, around the one-mile mark is a clearing with a bench and better views. Continue on and soon the switchbacks get fewer as the moss-wrapped rock outcroppings increase.

Great views into the CabinetsAbout 1.5 miles into the hike we hit snow, soon at a depth exceeding a foot (luckily semi-frozen, so there wasn’t too much sinking in. But you may want to wait until May or after to avoid snow). Shortly past the two-mile mark the switchbacks resume and before the 3-mile mark the trail spills out onto an open area that offers the first significant unobstructed views. Keep going, though, as the best views are about a quarter mile ahead, at a place with three benches.

More snow, near the topAfter the benches the trail continues to climb the mountain for another half mile, but the scenery isn’t spectacular and neither is the view. On top of that, the snow got very soft and those of us who weighed more than 40 pounds and couldn’t spread our paws like snowshoes sank in deeply with every step. The end of the trail, FR 2642, is a bit of a let-down, offering virtually no views. You won’t miss anything if you turn around at the benches.

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

Trailhead
Trailhead
Brook to the left of the trail
Brook to the left of the trail
Ascent is gradual via liberal use of switchbacks
Ascent is gradual via liberal use of switchbacks
Filtered views of Lake Pend Oreille at first bench
Filtered views of Lake Pend Oreille at first bench
Packed dirt trail
Packed dirt trail
Much of the top two-thirds were buried beneath a foot of snow
Much of the top two-thirds were buried beneath a foot of snow
Moss-wrapped rock formations are a frequent sighting
Moss-wrapped rock formations are a frequent sighting
Hollowed-out stump
Hollowed-out stump
Trail opens up to views of the lake and surrounding mountains
Trail opens up to views of the lake and surrounding mountains
Great views into the Cabinets
Great views into the Cabinets
Grand views of Sandpoint
Grand views of Sandpoint
Overturned tree near the viewing area
Overturned tree near the viewing area
Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River
Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River
More snow, near the top
More snow, near the top
Trailmap
Alternate Routes

  • You can continue up on FR #2642 to its terminus. Then take trail #2 (a single-track) to the saddle below Gold Hill. That is as close to the top you’ll get on established trails. Additionally, you could continue on down the far side on #2 to FR #2642, which will then lead down to Garfield Bay


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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s