Deer Flat Loop

The Deer Flat Reservoir near Boise (aka Lake Lowell) was built from 1906 to 1909 to irrigate the surrounding countryside. Lacking any local water sources, it is fed by the 40-mile New York canal (so-named because New York investors financed it), which draws water from the Boise River. The trail leads to an observation hill above the lake with good views across the reservoir, and then crosses the dam to Lake Lowell Park.

Location Elsewhere
Rating 2.4 out of 5
Difficulty Easy
Distance 6.7 miles
Duration 2:10 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 147 feet
High Point 2,670 feet (Observation Hill)
Low Point 2,518 feet (Lakeshore)
Trail Type Lollipop
Trailbed Old farm roads
Water Drinking water at visitor center and Lake Lowell Park
Status Wildlife Refuge
Administration U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent
Camping Not allowed
Maps USGS Lake Lowell
Trailhead Take I-84 exit #33 (ID-55/Midland Boulevard). Continue on Midland for a couple of miles, then turn left onto N Midway Road. Continue for another mile, then turn right onto W Orchard Avenue. After 2 miles take a left onto S Indiana Avenue. After 1.5 miles you’ll get to the Refuge, just continue straight onto Upper Embankment Road. You can park right there and start the loop hike, or drive down to the visitor center or boat launch.

Google Directions (43.56159, -116.662528)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Idahoans are serious about their leash laws, but I found a woodchuck hiding in the dam nonetheless!
Features Lake, Structure, Meadow
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 441.8 miles
  • Lewiston 283.5 miles
  • Sandpoint 480.4 miles
  • Seattle 487.9 miles
  • Spokane 409.3 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
    Date April 15, 2017

    We ventured outside our usual haunts for a couple of hikes near Boise, both along Lake Lowell. For the first one we started at the boat ramp of the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge, heading towards the visitor center. There, we picked up the Observation Trail, which is an old farm road that climbs through open grassland dotted with sage brush to a small hill with an observation platform. We tried to extend the trip by taking the road towards the refuge’s border and the upper parking lot, but access to the connector trails to the lake was blocked, so we headed back to the observation deck and took the trail down to the lake. The trail then follows the lake closely, an excellent place to observe a wide variety of birds, and circles back to the visitor center.

    We returned to the boat launch (very busy!) and started across the dam, which is sprinkled with interpretive signs explaining its existence. The park at the far end is a good place to fill up on water (it has flush toilets, too!), then it’s back via the dam to the car.

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

    Wetland near boat launch
    Wetland near boat launch
    Interpretive sign along Nature Trail
    Interpretive sign along Nature Trail
    Osprey nest along Observation Trail
    Osprey nest along Observation Trail
    Observation Hill
    Observation Hill
    Most of the trail is an old farm road
    Most of the trail is an old farm road
    Much of the lake is edged by trees
    Much of the lake is edged by trees
    Without water there would only be sage brush. Sure smells good though!
    Without water there would only be sage brush. Sure smells good though!
    View from observation deck
    View from observation deck
    Observation deck
    Observation deck
    Mountain ranges to the north
    Mountain ranges to the north
    The water level was high, flooding the trees
    The water level was high, flooding the trees
    Lake Lowell
    Lake Lowell
    Farmlands to the north
    Farmlands to the north
    Lake Lowell, taken from boat launch
    Lake Lowell, taken from boat launch
    Hundreds of birds calling the pump house home
    Hundreds of birds calling the pump house home
    Interpretive signs along the top of the dam
    Interpretive signs along the top of the dam
    Lower Lake Lowell dam
    Lower Lake Lowell dam
    Lake Lowell Park
    Lake Lowell Park
    View across lake from Lake Lowell Park
    View across lake from Lake Lowell Park
    Woodchuck hiding in the dam
    Woodchuck hiding in the dam
    Naughty had her own bed at the hotel!
    Naughty had her own bed at the hotel!
    Trailmap

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

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