Mickinnick Trail

The Mickinnick trail climbs the southeastern flank of Bald Mountain just north of Sandpoint. The name is a distillate of Mick and Nicky Pleass, who donated the mountainside to the forest service to create this trail, and the Kinnickinnick plant, a low-growing native evergreen. The trail consists of a series of switchbacks that ascends the mountainside in just over three miles, with about 2,000 feet of total elevation gain. It terminates at a large rocky knoll, offering incredible views of Lake Pend Oreille, the Cabinet Mountains, and prominent Gold Hill to the south.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 3.0 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (mostly uphill)
Distance 6.4 miles
Duration 3:55 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 2,021 feet
High Point 4,321 feet (Benches)
Low Point 2,211 feet (Trailhead)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Packed dirt, gravel, rock slab, loose rocks
Water Drinking water at trailhead; seasonal brook criss-crossed by trail most of the way up
Status Unprotected
Administration Kaniksu National Forest
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent. Trail is closed to motorized vehicles.
Camping None. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.
Maps USGS Sandpoint
Trailhead From US-95 take the Schweitzer Cutoff Road exit (about 2.5 miles north of Sandpoint) and head west. After half a mile turn left onto N Boyer Avenue (there are 2 roads by that name; you want the second one where Schweitzer Cutoff Road dead-ends). In a quarter mile the road dead-ends at the municipal airport; take a right onto Woodland Drive. Follow this for a mile, across railroad tracks and a sharp right turn. The trailhead and parking lot will be on your left.

Google Directions (48.310843, -116.568279)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Plenty of squirrels and curious chipmunks
Features Mountaintop, Grove, Meadow
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 49.5 miles
  • Lewiston 163.2 miles
  • Sandpoint 3.4 miles
  • Seattle 353.7 miles
  • Spokane 75.8 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date April 29, 2017

Meadow near trailheadThe trail starts at the rear of the parking lot, a double-track leading across a sprawling meadow to the base of the mountain. There are some wetlands here, perhaps seasonal, but the trail has been shored up and you won’t get your feet wet. Soon you’ll get to a fence, with an opening for the trail, and then the trail veers off to the right and uphill and it’s essentially uphill the rest of the way.

The trail is dirt and loose rocksThe trail ascends the hill in nice sweeping switchbacks (thankfully not as many as on Gold Hill!) and the going is fairly easy. Early on the trail is packed dirt, but higher up this changes to gravel, loose rocks and rock slabs (plan your footwear accordingly!).

Moss-covered rockIn the lower elevations you’ll pass through cooling groves of Western red cedar, but the higher you climb, the more the forest turns to fir and pine. The views are fairly good throughout the ascent, though a bit filtered at times. As you get higher up, the path meanders through jumbles of rock outcroppings, with many completely covered with moss. At other times you’ll encounter alpine meadows of beargrass and–later in the year, for sure–huckleberries. You’ll know when you’ve reached the top when you come upon a couple of benches and a huge rocky knoll with spectacular views. It’s possible to scramble up to the ridge (a bit treacherous, though, when the rock slabs are wet), but the views up there really don’t get better.

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

Meadow near trailhead
Meadow near trailhead
Wetland at the base of the mountain
Wetland at the base of the mountain
Most of the trail is uphill
Most of the trail is uphill
The trail criss-crosses this seasonal brook
The trail criss-crosses this seasonal brook
Views of Lake Pend Oreille throughout the hike
Views of Lake Pend Oreille throughout the hike
Spring flowers in abundance
Spring flowers in abundance
Western red cedar grove
Western red cedar grove
Moss-covered rock
Moss-covered rock
First viewpoint, complete with a set of benches
First viewpoint, complete with a set of benches
Cascading brook
Cascading brook
Steep cliff
Steep cliff
Airport and view of Lake Pend Oreille towards Clark Fork
Airport and view of Lake Pend Oreille towards Clark Fork
Lots of rock piles higher up
Lots of rock piles higher up
Gold Hill on the other side of Lake Pend Oreille is between the trees
Gold Hill on the other side of Lake Pend Oreille is between the trees
Moss-covered rock slabs
Moss-covered rock slabs
The trail is dirt and loose rocks
The trail is dirt and loose rocks
Naughty, with Lake Pend Oreille in the background
Naughty, with Lake Pend Oreille in the background
We hit on about a foot of snow in the top fifth
We hit on about a foot of snow in the top fifth
Great views of Lake Pend Oreille from the top
Great views of Lake Pend Oreille from the top
This rock is the turnaround point
This rock is the turnaround point
Naughty & Scribe
Naughty & Scribe
Lake Pend Oreille
Lake Pend Oreille
Close-up of Lake Pend Oreille
Close-up of Lake Pend Oreille
A short scramble to the very top
A short scramble to the very top

Trailhead
Not so great

  • Trail is very popular, expect lots of hikers!
  • Given the proximity of the BNSF tracks and the Sandpoint municipal airport it tends to be a bit noisy

Things to Consider

  • We did this hike as a group and so went a bit slower than usual. At our usual pace it probably only takes around 2 hours.
  • We hit on snow at around 4,000 feet, about a foot deep. To avoid snow, you may want to wait until the end of May.

 

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

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Looks like a great hike. Xena and I would love this. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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