smith lake

Smith Lake via Swift Creek Loop

After two days of driving long distances to trails, I wanted something easy, so this time I left Hungry Horse Reservoir and hiked in Whitefish Lake State Park

The Swift Creek Loop trailhead parking with a pit toilet can be found just off East Lakeshore Dr.  The parking area is far more developed than my recent hikes to both Doris Mountain and Jenny Lake.  I was the first to arrive this weekday, but by the time I finished ten cars filled the parking lot.

view from doris mountain

Hike to Doris Mountain

The hike to Doris Mountain in Flathead National Forest near Hungry Horse Reservoir was the busiest hike I have taken in the last month.  That said, I only ran into about five groups of people, and I had the top of the mountain to myself for the entire time I spent up there.

Getting to Doris Mountain

Still, for a Tuesday, it was a little more crowded than expected, especially given the drive to the trailhead.  Much of the drive is on a long, narrow dirt road that switches back and forth up the mountain. 

lake koocanusa

Things to Do in Eureka

After my three weeks of exploring Northern Idaho, I headed east to Montana. From Bonners Ferry, I took Highway 2 to Libby and then connected to Highway 37, also known as the Lake Kookanusa Scenic Byway which travels 67 miles to Eureka.

I don’t know how I missed this section of the USA eleven years ago while on my year long road trip across the USA connecting 120 different scenic byways listed in a Reader’s Digest Book.

Somehow, this National Forest Scenic Byway didn’t make it in the book, and it is spectacular.  Had I realized how pretty it would be, I would have spent the whole day driving it, rather than just a few hours.

view from stahl peak

Stahl Peak via Stahl Creek Trail

I don’t think Stahl Creek Trail initially made my list of hikes in Eureka when I was sifting through AllTrails, as I prefer hikes to lakes over mountain tops.  But, after spending two days making long drives into Ten Lakes Scenic Area, I replaced Link Lake with Stahl Creek Trail because it was a shorter drive and a longer hike.

I would suggest to anyone planning on hiking in Ten Lakes Scenic Area for more than one day, to plan on backpacking or staying up there without cell service to cut down the ratio of driving time to hiking time.  If I weren’t in the middle of the selection process for building my townhome or needing internet to blog, this is what I would have done. 

Instead, I spent three days driving back and forth from Eureka. The good news from driving is I saw multiple mama deer with their babies and a rafter of turkeys with their babies!

wolverine lake

Hike to Wolverine Lake

After another ridiculously long drive into Ten Lakes Scenic Area (see my previous post Hike to Bluebird Lake for the other long drive), Annie and I set out to hike to Wolverine Lake.  The parking area at the dead end is small, and a trailhead may be found on both sides of the road.  The trail to Wolverine Lake begins on the north side of the road near the posted information board.

bluebird lake

Hike to Bluebird Lake

For my first hike in Eureka, Montana, I decided on Bluebird Lake via the Highline Trail in the Kootenai National Forest.  As with many of the hikes in Idaho that I completed the last few weeks, the 7-mile roundtrip to Bluebird Lake is also a two for one experience, with Paradise Lake being on the way. It’s a good thing, especially since the drive on both paved and rocky roads through the Ten Lakes Scenic Area is very long. At least I spotted a doe with two babies along the way!


Three Weeks in Northern Idaho

A year ago, May, I spent 3 weeks in Idaho…mostly the bottom half of it.  This July, I made it to the top half of Idaho, and spent another 3 weeks exploring.  I didn’t pull out the French fries and ketchup costume for the state sign challenge, because I figure I only need to do that once, but the state sign in Idaho is easy to find!

This time while in Idaho, I visited Stanley, Wallace and Bonners Ferry.  I had briefly visited Stanley (which is really central Idaho) over 11 years ago on my year long road trip around the USA, and I visited Coeur d’Alene last fall for a weekend, but beyond that I haven’t spent much time in this part of the state.


 Things to Do in Bonners Ferry

Bonners Ferry is located in the northern most county of the Idaho Panhandle.  With a population of 2,500, it is the county seat of Boundary County, the only county in the USA to border two states and a foreign country. 

Bonners Ferry is named after Edwin Bonner who established a ferry across the Kootenai River during the late 1800s gold rush.

Today Bonners Ferry is a gateway to the Selkirk Mountains and the surrounding wilderness and is home to the largest hops fields in the world. 


Hikes in Bonners Ferry

After my visit to Wallace, which was absolutely amazing, I continued north to Bonners Ferry.  Bonners Ferry is about 30 minutes from Sandpoint and 1.5 hours from Coeur d’Alene, both popular Idaho resort towns.  It is also rather close to the Canadian border, and sometimes my phone plan thought we were in Canada. 

As always, when I visit small towns, my dog Annie and I check out the local trails.  Bonners Ferry has many to offer.  Below are a few trails in Bonners Ferry we hiked: