Lake Darling and Mount Pend Oreille Loop

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Kaniksu National Forest

Lake Darling and Mount Pend Oreille Loop is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Hope, Idaho that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,696 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash



nature trips


bird watching



10 months ago

Hiked to Lake Darling. Abundant wildflowers and beautiful scenery all along the way. At the lake, we watched a bull moose swim and eat for over 30 minutes. Wow, was that ever a highlight!! Next time we will do the loop. Restful day in the woods.

11 months ago

Actually took Lunch Peak Lookout trail #67 from the Lookout to Mt Pend Oreille which is above lake Darling. 3.5 mile hike from the lookout to the top of Mt Pend Oreille. Moderate hike for 1st 3 miles but the ascent to the top is bruutal and steep the last .50 miles. Stunning views from the top. You can acsess this trail from the Lake Darling trail as well. Worth the climb as you can see forever. Saw bear sign but no bear. Saw some Elk. Trail is in good shape and easy to follow. Trail crosses many Talus rock fields. High alpine trees, bear grass and tons of Huckleberry bushes.

Mon Oct 01 2018

We went there a group of 4 of us today late September. We were planning on doing the 8 mile loop but only made it to the lake and back. The hike to the lake isn’t bad just constant uphill for a few miles. We brought bear spray but didn’t see any bears. Did think we smelled them a few times though. It was a beautiful hike and worth it. Recommend going just be prepared for the wildlife. Also the drive to the hiking spot is pretty much a dirty road on the side of a mountain. My little car made it but I was afraid the rocks were gonna pop my tire a few times. No phone service.

Sat Aug 11 2018

Great hike, but the trail above the lake is a little bit overgrown (still easy to follow though).

Mon Jul 30 2018

Pros: Easy hike to lake, sheltered, surrounding mountains are accessible without too much scrambling Cons: Lake Darling itself is, in my opinion , underwhelming, and mosquitos can be a big problem I did this hike in 2013 Summer, for a group overnight backpacking trip. It was selected due to ease of access, but I was , overall, not impressed. The driving to the trail head took a while, and the trail was relatively easy, with gradual incline, but our stay at the lake itself was rather unpleasant. Despite being a higher elevation lake, Lake Darling is effectively a flooded meadow, and a good part of the shore is grassy and moist. Too many of the potential camp sites are in this grassy area, and we experienced a ton of Mosquitos at night, and I ended up getting Giardia from the muddy water, despite thinking it was purifed (we did run it through filters). The area also lacks some of the magnificent rock-fall that makes so many Idaho Lakes appealing, so in my opinion, there are much better options for hiking to lakes in the region. 2/5 stars.

Wed Jun 27 2018

Trail to the lake was full of blow downs. Above the lake the trail starts to become covered on snow, but it had melted enough in spots so you could still spot the trail. We chose to go down trail 161 and make more of a loop. 161 is really overgrown and muddy. The views from the top make it all worth while though. You can see the Selkirks, the Cabinet Wilderness, Lake Pond Oreille. Pack bear spray, we didn't see any bears, just lots of scat.

Sat Oct 14 2017

Loved this hike. Did it a year ago. would recommend not hiking in to stay the night after September. We had snow, rain, hail and sleet. Spent a freezing night and woke up to 2 inches of frost on everything. At one point we smelled a bear while hiking in and had a huge bull moose in camp. Cute little lake, be prepared for moose and bear.

Thu Aug 24 2017

I did 52 out and back for fear that 161 would be impassable or indistiinct requiring serious backtracking. Round trip to the summit of Pend Oreille was 10.4 mi. I found the first 3 mi of hike easy, next mi moderate, and remaining mile plus strenuous to brutal. No others or bears were seen this day. Huckleberries were plentiful and literally across the trail. Forest road is fine for all vehicles to the TH. Views from the ridge and summit were excellent despite smoke from fires in Canada. Many bridges along the trail are dilapidated and collapsing as maintenance is lacking in this area.

Fri Apr 07 2017

Navigating here is a bit of a challenge. I recommend going with someone who's been before. Pack bear spray and keep it on hand. Moderate and beautiful. Very rewarding.

Mon Sep 12 2016

The trail number is 52. My iPhone got me lost using the directions from this app (took me to the middle of a field near sandpoint), so I just looked up lake Darling on my google maps and it got me there easily (I also followed signs to the trailhead). The hike in to the lake is pretty easy and not too long. There were huckleberries to snack on along the way. The lake is lovely! I didn't see any wildlife, but my German shepherd probably had something to do with that

Tue Sep 06 2016

Easy trail you can walk in a morning and enjoy the lake and then hike out to your vehicle. If you decide to walk the full loop, prepare for a more than moderately steep climb to the top of the ridge.

Sat Jul 30 2016

Overall, loved this trail. Driving there is a bit of an adventure on long single track road. Well marked signage to get to the trailhead. Great hike to Lake Darling. It would be a great first backpacking trip or to take kids. The campsites even have a bear box so you don't need to hang food. After the lake, it's overgrown but a good hike up to the ridge with incredible views and the bear grass was magical! Coming down the other side of the loop is a real adventure. Would not recommend for small kids or baby carriers. In fact, I strongly recommend trekking poles, long pants, and your spirit of adventure! Many downed trees and mud pits. Take a change of clothes for dinner in Sandpoint!! But overall, I would do the hike again.

Wed Jul 13 2016

Was there on 7/10/16, trail to Lake Darling was great. Over grown on part of the train up to Mount Pend Oreille. Awesome views, the wild flowers were fantastic! We did the loop back and the last part of the trail had a lot of down trees that we climbed over, very over grown. All in all great trail!

Sun Jun 26 2016

This trail is very well maintained for the first 2.5 miles into the lake. The 3 miles to the summit was a little wet from snow run off and there was still snow up there on June 25-26 2016. Lake darling has amazing views and the summit is incredible. There where lots of moose that come into camp. Yelling at the moose didnt do much. Lots of signs of bears. This hike requires LOTS of bug spray and bear spray. It is well worth the hike!

Tue Jun 21 2016

The trail is very well maintained but be sure to bring bug spray! There are lots of mosquitos. I saw two bears near the trail on 20 June 2016 so be careful, they are out there. Bear spray is a must. Very beautiful views the whole way up. Can't wait to do it again.

Thu Jan 28 2016

Was a fantastic hike. Took my wife and two teenage daughters up in the fall of 2015. Great area for huckleberry picking. We hiked in and camped at the lake then hiked up Mount Pend O'Reille with our dinner. Incredible views from there. We were kept awake at night by a huge moose doing laps across the shallow lake. Fresh bear skat kept up singing camp songs on the way out. There was a picnic table at the small campsite and a great bear box for storing food.

Thu Aug 13 2015

Pretty easy and straightforward to get to the trailhead. Hike is fairly easy with a consistent climb about 2 miles in. The lake had millions of tadpoles and small frogs, about 3/4'' long. The ground was literally moving as we hiked around the lake. There was a lot of fresh bear sign on the northwest side of the lake. We had multiple bull/cow/calf moose come into camp at night/early morning within 20 yards. Lots of mule deer as well. Downside, you cannot get in the lake due to a minimum of 6'' of sediment and much deeper. Overall fun backpack trip. PS. Bring your fly rod, plenty of brookies.

Tue Oct 30 2012

The trail to the lake was full of huckleberries. Given the huckleberries, there was some black bear sign. Ran into only 2 other people on the hike near Mt Pend Oreille junction. We wish that we could see once at the top but there were too many fires in Washington.

Fri Oct 14 2011

Trail from Lightning Creek to Lake Darling is a very easy 2.5 mile jaunt through nice forest. Great trail for first time hikers or groups with children. There are usually deer around and there is also the occasional moose. Beautiful lake. Trail from Lunch Peak to Mt. Pend O'Reille is an absolute blast. Ridgeline trail with tremendous views in all directions. Last half mile to the peak is a bit steep, but the view from the top is worth it. There are also remnants of a fire lookout on the top of Mt. Pend O'Reille as well as a lookout at the trailhead that can be rented. Access is best from Trestle Creek. There can be moose on the ridgeline trail. Wear a good boot or a shoe with good soles and carry water.

Wed Aug 17 2016

Sun Apr 10 2016