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Lake Darling - Mount Pend Oreille Loop Professional Review and Guide
"Hikers out for this 8-mile loop trip can enjoy a spectrum of attractions usually found only on multi-day backpacks, including a good chance to see moose. The route ranges from timbered trails to a shallow mountain lake and up to the high open views from Mount Pend Oreille.The route ranges from timbered trails to a shallow mountain lake and up to the high open views from Mount Pend Oreille.From Sandpoint, Idaho, drive east toward Clark Fork on State Highway 200 about 12 miles. Just east of milepost 42, turn left (north) on Road 275 (Trestle Creek). Drive about 16 miles (passing a small campground at 4.4 miles and the turn to Lunch Peak Road 1091 at about 12 miles) and turn left onto Road 419 (Lightning Creek). Go for another mile to a parking area just below the trailhead for Trails 52 and 161."
--Rich Landers & Spokane Mountaineers, 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest (The Mountaineers Books).
Excellent hike with lots of challenging climbs. Definately a moderate difficult rating. My only complaint was that the sign for trail 161 (gordon creek) was poorly placed down hill so far from trail 67 that we walked right by it and didnt realize our mistake until almost to the lunch peak tower. This make for an extra 3 miles and a very cranky wife. Be careful!
The hike to Lake Darling is nice and easy. In August 2008, it was still full of emerging spring flowers. The hike up to Mt. Pend O'Reille continued to impress, with clumps of beargrass exploding like fireworks over the meadows, and the view from the top was simply incredible. The way down, however, revealed the lack of attention this loop hike has received in the last several years, with numerous downed trees and a trail that sometimes disappeared into nothingness, only to re-appear 50 yards downslope from where we lost it. The way up (past Lake Darling) is gorgeous. The way down has a few great vistas but could stand some grooming. All in all, a good August hike, full of streams, vistas, and flowers just coming into bloom. A wet winter made this hike very springlike in early August.
This is a great trail to get your feet wet if you are staying somewhere in the Sandpoint area. The hike to Lake Darling is relatively easy. A beautiful stream follows the trail; we saw a bald eagle weaving through the trees over the creek! If you choose to do the whole 8 mile loop just know the hike to Mount Pend Oreille is pretty strenuous, but well worth it for the views of the lake. There were still pockets of unmelted snow when we did the hike in mid June which made for an adventure in finding the trailhead at times. Once you reach the summmit, the way down is cake and you can really enjoy the scenery. Be prepared to hop/climb over trees that have fallen across the trail, but makes for some fun. And it can be cool at the top of the mountain in early June. A great hike to start before you head off to some more difficult hikes if you are up there for a few days.
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