dogs on leash
off road driving
cross country skiing
The trail head for this hike is a considerable drive over forest service roads. Unless there is snow on the ground, it should be accessible by most vehicles. The trail head is a bit complicated to find. I would advise studying and printing out maps. (You are not likely to have any internet connection where you are going!)
This area is going right to the top of my favorite places to hike. I spent an entire day here at the end of September 2016. The colors and scents of autumn are magnificent. The Roman Nose Lakes area has hiking for all levels of hikers. The walk to the lower lake is very easy. It could be accomplished by small children, the elderly or infirm, or even someone in a wheelchair. There is a good parking area and rest room facilities at the trail head.
The hike to the middle and upper lakes is a bit more challenging. It has some moderate inclines, and is quite rocky in some places. The trails between the lakes are a bit of a labyrinth. The signs have all fallen down, so it is advisable to study a map of the area or carry a map with you, so as to avoid any confusion.
There are two routes to take to the upper and middle lakes, one is a shorter and direct route. There is also a more scenic route which climbs along the ridge above the lower lake. Both routes are very beautiful and worth the time to hike. I visited all three lakes, explored numerous diversionary routes, and took both main trails in the same day. My total hiking distance was just over 9 miles. One could easily spend several days hiking and exploring the area.
The description of the trails primary use is incorrect. The primary use of this areas trail system is for motorized recreation and has been for about 30 years. Please keep this in mind when you visit this area. It is a 4-star area for motorized and mechanized recreation. 1 star for hiking.
Mineral Ridge is my go-to trail in the CDA area. I hike this year round, even in the snow. There is a well-maintained parking area. Access is year round, except during very heavy snow. The trail ascends Mineral Ridge via switch backs, which have a moderate incline, but nothing too strenuous. (I hike this regularly with a 74-year-old buddy.) There are some nice views on this hike. The grand prize is certainly the wonderful view of Coeur d'Alene Lake. There is a nice picnic area at the trail head, with rest rooms.
Lone Lake Trail is a very nice day hike. I have done it in the spring, summer, and autumn. In the spring time, you can expect to cross a few seasonal streams, and see considerably more water over the water fall compared to other times of the year. I just completed a late September hike. The color of the leaves and the reflection in the lake were magical.
If this is your first hike here, please be advised that Lone Lake and Stevens Lake share a parking area near their trail heads. For the trail to Lone Lake, there is a bit of uncertainty as to where the access road ends and the trail begins. I strongly recommend studying the aerial map carefully before hiking this trail.
For as far as we went up the trail along the creek it was a fairly easy, gorgeous walk. The real treat is the hot Sulphur water hot tub (with various temperature inlets to adjust the water to your liking) near the trailhead, clothing optional.
Super fun hike ! For sure steep but worth it once you get to the top. My sister and I did it in about two hours. We saw six goats (: Beautiful views. Driving there was easy if you follow the signs.. All dirt/rock heading into the trail so make sure you have a car that can drive that!
You have to love late September for the trails along I-90 in Idaho and Montana - the colors are amazing. Simple overnight in the bowl above Lone Lake and that other long pond-ish thing. Air was clean, trail was well-maintained (except around Long Pond), and we had the place to ourselves.
TRAIL - easy to get to with any vehicle, and the trail head is well-marked a little to the right of the trail leading to Stevens. The trail is fairly short, but it's steep enough to keep you breathing. We decided to camp all the way up the valley, and you'll find the trail to/around Long Pond is a little sketchy. Lots of game trails that have you on/off the trail quite a bit. Keep going to the left of the long pond and you'll find your way into a nice open drainage heading to the top. We recorded our route down today, and it marks the nice camp site at the top.
LAKE - pretty nice lake with a decent bit of camping to the left when you first hit the lake. BIG fire pit at what is called, "Camp Sleepy Dog'. Right, or West side of the lake has a smaller site with a little fire pit, and this is the way to keep going if you want to go up.
SURROUNDINGS - Lots of water along the trail, so if you are staying the night, hike light on water. The plants this time of year are a yellow/orange/red rainbow; simply breathtaking. Saw a herd of 8-ish elk making light work of the crazy slope on the east side of the valley. The camp site all the way up in the bowl was magical. A little creek runs over a small rise to the west of the camp site, and it will remind you of something the Shire might have. I took a good number of pictures, enjoying Lightroom's new merge feature for doing panoramas with larger cameras. Beautiful place.
OVERALL - great overnight, and super happy with the site at the end of the line. We tried to find a way to the ridge from the bowl, but it seems to have us going side hill a long way back to find a ridge to climb up. We'll take it from the top next time. Late season is gorgeous.