Harrison Lake to Beehive Lake Loop

This loop combines two of the most popular lake hikes in the American Selkirks, Harrison Lake and Beehive Lakes, via a phenomenal off-trail ridge hike above Little Harrison Lake. Expect some of the best hiking in this region, spectacular views from the top of the world, and picture-perfect alpine lakes, but be prepared to test your route and trail finding skills in rough terrain.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 4.5 out of 5
Difficulty Strenuous (off-trail section)
Distance 11.5 miles
Duration 6:00 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 3,031 feet
High Point 7,152 feet (The Fin)
Low Point 4,449 feet (Trailhead)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed You’re on your own!
Trail# 217, 279
Water There is frequent access to water except for the part on the ridge
Status Proposed Wilderness
Administration Kaniksu National Forest
Conditions Beehike Lake is good, but the trail is easy to lose in the upper granite portions. Harrison Lake is excellent. There is no trail in between.
Permits None required
Camping Beehive trailhead, Harrison Lake, Beehive Lake, Little Harrison Lake. There is a pit toilet at the Harrison Lake trailhead. Beehive Lake and Harrison Lake come with bearproof boxes.
Maps USGS The Wigwams
Trailhead From US-95, head west on Upper Pack River Road (this is about 11 miles north of Sandpoint, in a place called Samuels. There is a gas station on the left, shortly after you cross the Pack River). Stay on Upper Pack River (aka FR #231) for 19 miles (the first 7 are blacktopped, the rest is a well-graded gravel road). Turn left at the Y (it’ signed for trail #279) and follow the dirt road downhill to the trailhead of the Beehive Lakes, about 100 yards. There’s parking for a few cars and it can get crowded on weekends, as this is a very popular hike. Alternatively, you could also park at the Harrison Lake trailhead.

Google Directions (48.650244, -116.623256)

Season July – October
Squirrel Density The ridge trail is not suitable for dogs; steep dropoffs, boulders
Features Mountaintop, Lake, Meadow
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 76.2 miles
  • Lewiston 189.8 miles
  • Sandpoint 30.4 miles
  • Seattle 379.8 miles
  • Spokane 101.9 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date July 22, 2018

Harrison Peak towering above Harrison LakeFor those not interested in the off-trail section of this hike, let’s cover the sections to the lakes first, because the reason for the “Strenuous” rating is entirely due to that off-trail section. The trailhead to Harrison Lake (#217) is about a mile further up FR-231, at the terminus of that road. The excellently-maintained trail uses an old logging road for the most part, narrowing to a singletrack in the upper reaches. The very last section crosses extensive granite slabs marked with cairns. It’s about 5 miles out-and-back and rated “Moderate” due to uphill hiking. The elevation gain is about 1,500 vertical feet. The trail crisscrosses a small brook a number of times, if you’re short on water, plus, there’s the lake, too. The lake, incidentally, is stocked with cutthroats.

Beehive LakeIt’s about 9 miles roundtrip to Beehive Lake (#279), a trail that gains about 2,000 vertical feet. The trail is in pretty good conditions, using an old forest road in the beginning, but later trading that for a singletrack with plenty of exposed roots and rocks, with the very last piece crossing a lot of granite slab where it’s easy to miss the cairns. For that reason, and the elevation gain, this trail is rated “More Difficult”. The lake also is stocked with cutthroat trout.

Harrison Lake outletIf you’re in for the entire loop, park your car at either trailhead. We parked at the Beehive trailhead, having a hard time finding a spot as it was packed, and hiked up the road for a mile to the Harrison Lake trailhead. That trail immediately enters the woods, climbs steadily, and soon offers magnificent views of The Beehive through a series of neat windows the forest service cut into the dense forest bordering the trail. About halfway up, the trail switchbacks a couple of times, but still uses the old trailbed of a wide logging road, and crosses a small stream a few times (you won’t get wet feet). As you move higher the views get even better, with a first quick glimpse of Harrison Peak and later Roman Nose as well. At the junction with trail #6, keep climbing (left). The lake is reached about 2.5 miles from the Harrison Lake trailhead. And then the trail ends.

The ridge topTo continue, cross the Pack River (ie, the lake’s outlet) and climb across the boulder field at the lake’s southwestern shore. Snow patches linger here well into summer.  At the western end of the lake the steep climb to the ridge starts. If you don’t like boulder-hopping, you’re in trouble. It’s boulders nearly all the way to the ridgetop. That’s about 700 vertical feet up, in a straight line, with astonishing views of Harrison Lake and Harrison Peak, the former getting smaller and smaller as you climb. At the top you’re in for a treat, first, because the views are phenomenal, and second, because the route follows this ridge southwards and the views only get better. The crest is mostly granite and rubble, with relatively few trees. Be forewarned though. The eastern side of the ridge (the Pack River side) is getting steeper and steeper as you go along and soon becomes nearly vertical. The other side, though steep as well, is much less so and lightly forested with alpine fir. The ridge ebbs and flows for about a mile, providing excellent views of Harrison Lake and, later, The Beehive, as well as Roman Nose and Bottleneck Peak across the Pack River canyon.

The sign says it all. You can still see remains of the plane below, but its hard to spot. Your best bet is to watch from above at the sun reflecing o...A sign informs of a miraculous plane crash in this area, where everyone survived. Afterwards, the “trail” gets more difficult, because the western side no longer slants conveniently, but becomes just as steep as the eastern side in a spot referred to as The Fin. We made it to the Fin, and the TerraCache Seventh Heaven buried in the rubble, but in that location the ridge was barely four feet wide with vertical dropoffs on both sides. The way forward plunged steeply, requiring use of both hands and really a rope. Naughty lacked hands, and we didn’t have a rope, so we turned around. After backtracking for a bit, we found a sheer but not quite vertical granite slab with tiny wooded ledges on its northern edge. About halfway down we ran out of ledge, but there was a minute crevice providing handholds, which the Scribe used to climb lower and then catch Naughty as she slid down the granite. Lather, rinse, repeat, twice, and we made it to the bottom.

Little Harrison LakeThen we crossed yet another boulder field alongside the bottom of the granite wall, left the Fin behind, and headed for a large snow patch on the edge of a granite slab. From the snow patch emerged a lovely alpine brook where we replenished our water supply (Naughty drank from the “hose”). Then we crossed the snow patch, contoured along an outcrop of the Seven Sisters to a spot high above Little Harrison Lake. We toyed with the idea of dropping down to the lake and climbing the far side, but instead decided to continue the contouring along the mountain, crossing another brook and once again edging alongside the bottom of a rock wall. The dropoff was steep, but Naughty was surefooted and soon we came to another snow patch, which she likes to bite into.

Beehive Lake and Twin Peak above itOn the far side of Little Harrison Lake we ascended to the ridge dividing Little Harrison Lake and Beehive Lake, and it sure seemed as if that was only possible in one singular spot without a rope. If so, we sure hit the spot! On the ridge you’re treated to views of Harrison Peak to the north, Roman Nose and the Pack River canyon to the east, and Twin Peak above Beehive Lake to the south.

The Beehive trailThen it’s dropping down to the lake–absolutely gorgeous–through fairly dense forest and, lower down, more granite slab. At the lake trail #279 commences, at first traversing extensive granite slabs marked with cairns, then swallowed by forest. The trail switchbacks downhill, past the other Beehive Lakes, which are a bits off trail. A handy footbridge keeps your feet dry as you cross the Pack River on the way to the car.

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

The Beehive
The Beehive
Naughty cooling down in one of many trickles crossing the Harrison Lake trail
Naughty cooling down in one of many trickles crossing the Harrison Lake trail
The forest service cut neat windows into the trees for grand views of the Beehive
The forest service cut neat windows into the trees for grand views of the Beehive
Most of the Harrison Lake trail is on an old skid road
Most of the Harrison Lake trail is on an old skid road
A first glance at Harrison Peak
A first glance at Harrison Peak
Roman Nose
Roman Nose
Harrison Peak towering above Harrison Lake
Harrison Peak towering above Harrison Lake
Harrison Lake outlet
Harrison Lake outlet
Naughty looking up at the ridge were about to climb
Naughty looking up at the ridge we’re about to climb
The ascent to the ridge follows that thin line of trees in the left third of the photo
The ascent to the ridge follows that thin line of trees in the left third of the photo
Harrison Peak and the lake
Harrison Peak and the lake
Harrison Lake after ascending part of the boulder field
Harrison Lake after ascending part of the boulder field
Harrison Lake getting smaller while ascending to the ridge
Harrison Lake getting smaller while ascending to the ridge
Harrison Peak
Harrison Peak
The ridge top
The ridge top
Harrison Peak and Harrison Lake from the ridge
Harrison Peak and Harrison Lake from the ridge
The road ahead. We stayed on the ridge
The road ahead. We stayed on the ridge
Panorama shot from the ridge
Panorama shot from the ridge
Another shot of Harrison Peak and Lake
Another shot of Harrison Peak and Lake
Bottleneck and Roman Nose in the distance
Bottleneck and Roman Nose in the distance
The ridge trail. The Seven Sisters in the distance. That pokey thing to the right is The Fin (dead end). We followed this ridge to the Fin
The ridge trail. The Seven Sisters in the distance. That pokey thing to the right is The Fin (dead end). We followed this ridge to the Fin
The eastern side of the ridge is nearly vertical
The eastern side of the ridge is nearly vertical
Looking back along the ridge with Harrison Peak to the right
Looking back along the ridge with Harrison Peak to the right
We eventually moved to the far side of the mountain, crossing that snow patch beneath the sheer granite
We eventually moved to the far side of the mountain, crossing that snow patch beneath the sheer granite
Naughty clambering up the narrowing ridge
Naughty clambering up the narrowing ridge
The sign says it all. You can still see remains of the plane below, but its hard to spot. Your best bet is to watch from above at the sun reflecing on metal
The sign says it all. You can still see remains of the plane below, but it’s hard to spot. Your best bet is to watch from above at the sun reflecing on metal
View from The Fin, looking back along the ridge with Harrison Peak in the distance
View from The Fin, looking back along the ridge with Harrison Peak in the distance
Looking forward from the Fin at the Seven Sisters. We turned around at this point
Looking forward from the Fin at the Seven Sisters. We turned around at this point
Roman Nose from the Fin
Roman Nose from the Fin
Looking northwest from the Fin
Looking northwest from the Fin
After backtracking for a bit, we scaled down this wall. Not canine compatible!
After backtracking for a bit, we scaled down this wall. Not canine compatible!
The sheer cliff wall near the Fin, from below
The sheer cliff wall near the Fin, from below
The end of the Fin
The end of the Fin
The Pack River valley
The Pack River valley
Naughty having fun on a snow field
Naughty having fun on a snow field
A spring pops up in the granite above the snow field. The sheer granite slabs give The Beehive its name
A spring pops up in the granite above the snow field. The sheer granite slabs give The Beehive its name
A small brook and Harrison Peak in the distance
A small brook and Harrison Peak in the distance
The lighter-colored patch is the wall we scaled down. The first half was straightforward on a few ledges in the trees to the right, but the second half only offered a small crevice
The lighter-colored patch is the wall we scaled down. The first half was straightforward on a few ledges in the trees to the right, but the second half only offered a small crevice
Little Harrison Lake
Little Harrison Lake
Naughty finding a place to cool down
Naughty finding a place to cool down
Our route traced the bottom of this granite wall, high above Little Harrison Lake
Our route traced the bottom of this granite wall, high above Little Harrison Lake
Little Harrison Lake from the western side
Little Harrison Lake from the western side
Little Harrison Lake and Harrison Peak in the distance
Little Harrison Lake and Harrison Peak in the distance
More of the granite wall
More of the granite wall
Beehive Lake and Twin Peak above it
Beehive Lake and Twin Peak above it
Roman Nose and the Pack River valley
Roman Nose and the Pack River valley
Harrison Peak
Harrison Peak
Twin Peak
Twin Peak
Beehive Lake. Faset Peak last year was the inaugural hike for those shoes. No amount of duct tape helped. The last hike was Little Ibex; they are in retirement now
Beehive Lake. Faset Peak last year was the inaugural hike for those shoes. No amount of duct tape helped. The last hike was Little Ibex; they are in retirement now
Beehive Lake
Beehive Lake
Naughty after a well-deserved dip in Beehive Lake
Naughty after a well-deserved dip in Beehive Lake
Beehive Lake from a little knoll
Beehive Lake from a little knoll
A baby elephant and its Mamma on Twin Peak
A baby elephant and its Mamma on Twin Peak
The Beehive trail can be hard to find on these extensive granite slabs. Roman Nose and Bottleneck Peak in the distance
The Beehive trail can be hard to find on these extensive granite slabs. Roman Nose and Bottleneck Peak in the distance
The Beehive trail
The Beehive trail
Roman Nose across the Pack River valley
Roman Nose across the Pack River valley
A pleasant meadow at the Beehive trailhead
A pleasant meadow at the Beehive trailhead
Lost GPS connectivity a couple of times. The red lines are pencilled in. Also shown is Trail #6 from Myrtle Creek
Lost GPS connectivity a couple of times. The red lines are pencilled in. Also shown is Trail #6 from Myrtle Creek

© 2016 – 2018 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    Great pictures and description of the loop! I’ve camped at Harrison a few times, and was planning on doing the loop the last time, but there was still 3ft of snow, so we bailed on that idea. So, I realize that the hike from Harrison to Beehive is strenuous, but is it manageable with full packs? I’m glad I stumbled upon your write-up, cuz I was planning on doing it next weekend. Oh, would there be any advantage, hiking wise, to starting the loop from Beehive? Thanks again for the info and great pics 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      I don’t think it would be a problem with a full pack. A full pack for me is typically 30-35# and that is easily doable. My strenuous rating referred more to constantly being on your toes, finding the best route through boulder fields, cliff edges and snow fields. It’s very different compared to hiking a well-trodden path on autopilot. In fact, the off-trail section is only about 4 miles, but will take a disproportional amount of time. As far as start, I think you could go either way. The ascent to the ridge from the Beehive side is shorter, less steep, and through forest. You won’t be able to clearly see what you’re aiming for until you’re up on the ridge and have to find the best way to descend on the other side. Also, once you’re passed Little Harrison Lake you’ll have to find an ideal place to climb the ridge extending from the Seven Sisters to Harrison Lake (though this is optional, but the views almost make it mandatory). Ascending from the Harrison Lake side, on the other hand, you have line of sight of the ridge as you ascend the boulder field (which is quite a bit longer and steep). The key then is to get off the ridge before it’s too late. Have fun up there and be safe; the weather should be great!

      Like

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks a bunch for the response! Next weekend is going to be our planned adventure, and I reckon we’ll ascend from the Harrison lake side after a night. Beehive will be a first for us, so hopefully there will be available camp sites 🤞 thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      Little Harrison Lake also has a campsite

      Like

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