This 3.7-mile hike near Sandpoint, ID takes a gradual climb over mountain streams to a quiet high alpine lake in the western range of the Cabinet Mountains. The surrounding area is perfect for viewing deer, elk and moose.
Moose Lake Trail, or Idaho Forest Trail 237, is a relaxed 3.7-mile out-and-back dayhike to a clear alpine lake in Kaniksu National Forest. Located in the Idaho Panhandle near Sandpoint, Kaniksu National Forest boasts more than 4,000 miles of rivers and vast lakes. Moose Lake Trail offers the perfect taste of the area, meandering through evergreen forests and over creeks swollen with snowmelt in the spring and summer. Play in the shallows of Moose Lake or fish for Brook Trout at your final destination.
From the Moose Lake trailhead, follow the trail southeast away from the parking lot. Tall evergreen trees and mountain vegetation lines the trail, but the path is clear due to Forest Service maintenance. 100 yards from the start of the trail, cross a wooden bridge over a small, but fast-flowing creek.
After half a mile, the trail forks. Pass the trail to Blacktail Lake on your right and continue on straight ahead. Look for small signs posted on the trees indicating trail number 237 to be sure of your way. Make sure you have appropriate footwear, especially in the spring, as the path can get soggy.
At around .8 mile, the trail forks again. This time, continue past the trail to Lake Estelle on your left. Soon thereafter, you'll cross a second foot bridge over a stream. This is a perfect place to stop and appreciate the power of the water's current, especially when the stream is swollen from winter snowmelt and spring runoff.
At mile 1, follow the trail to the right and up a brief switchback. The trail then heads south for the final half mile to the lake. A well-maintained boardwalk covers the 50 yards leading up to the lake. Once you arrive, the view will open up and you'll see the towering peaks of the Cabinet Mountains. The lake is open to fishing. If you want to stay a night, set up in the flat grassy camping area with a bear locker for food storage. Retrace your steps to return to your car.
-Mapped by Travis Lesicka
TO TRAILHEAD: From Sandpoint, ID, drive east on Hwy. 200 to Trustle Creek Rd. 275; turn left onto Rd. 275 and go 16 miles to Lightning Creek Rd. 419; turn left onto Rd. 419 and go 1 mile to Moose Creek Rd. 1022; turn right onto Rd. 1022 and go 2 miles to the end of the road and the trailhead.
Moose Lake Trail
Distance: 1.84 mi
Total Time: none
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Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
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Points of Interest
Location: 48.365446, -116.133170
Begin at the Moose Lake Trailhead. You'll find a parking lot that can hold ten or twelve cars there.
Location: 48.365046, -116.132784
Just 100 yards down the trail, cross this small bridge over an offshoot of Moose Creek.
Location: 48.363606, -116.129866
Pass the trail to Blacktail Lake on your right and continue straight ahead. Just past the intersection, there is a small sign indicating Trail 237. Follow this sign.
Location: 48.362608, -116.127033
Continue to follow the trail heading southeast. In early spring, the path can be muddy due to snow run-off.
Location: 48.360740, -116.119180
Pass the trail for Lake Estelle on your left. Continue looking for small signs posted on trees to keep you headed along Trail 237 to Moose Lake.
Location: 48.360256, -116.114845
Cross a bridge over another drainage of Moose Creek. Currents in the spring are especially strong. This is a great spot to stop and appreciate the water's power.
Location: 48.359914, -116.113257
After a mile of hiking, the trail bends right, to the south. At an elevation of 5250 feet, this portion of the trail may still have snowpack covering the way in early spring. Keep a look out for orange tape on the trees to help guide you.
Location: 48.359344, -116.111455
After a short switchback, the trail turns south for good and begins a gentle climb to Moose Lake.
Location: 48.355979, -116.110897
Around mile 1.8, the trail begins to follow Moose Creek on the right. In the spring, the ground becomes soggy, but a well-maintained boardwalk leading up to the lake will keep your feet dry. By summer, the ground dries up.
Location: 48.354738, -116.109867
At the end of the trail, you'll find a spectacular campsite--a big flat grassy area next to the lake that catches the morning sun. The forest service has also installed a bear locker here for food storage. When you're ready to return home, just turn around and retrace your steps.
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