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Gold Hill
Sandpoint, Idaho
July 30, 2019

Just 15 minutes from Sandpoint, Gold Hill is a popular hike with the locals although most anyone is likely to enjoy it. Gentle switchbacks ease the way up to a viewpoint that overlooks Lake Pend Orielle. But this is where most people turn around. In fact, I could find no information on climbing higher, to the summit. Getting to the top of Gold Hill would turn our hike into a little adventure.

The trailhead on Bottle Bay Road has room for several cars, and one was already parked there, belonging to a local resident it turns out. After parking, Dinah and I started up the trail which begins with short switchbacks. It was shaping up to be a hot summer day so we appreciated hiking in the cool, dark forest.

After hiking 4.5 km up the trail we came to the viewpoint. We paused to take in the impressive lake before continuing to the summit. We didn't know what to expect other than that we had to climb another 160 m. At least the next section was obvious: we continued to the end of the trail where it meets a road. We turned right and started up the road, wondering what to do next. Since the road was going generally east (taking into account switchbacks) we knew we had to leave it and head south toward the summit. Sure enough, we noticed a use trail that climbs the road bank on our right.

We followed the trail as it wound through the forest and then unexpectedly intersects a bike trail: only mountain bikes could have pulverized this path to leave deep powder in their wake. We followed the path until we emerged from the trees onto a scrubby, little summit. Actually, it comprised two little humps. The humps appear equally high, but one held a prominent cairn. Views weren't great on top. Unlike the viewpoint, little could be seen of the west end of Lake Pend Orielle, but the east arm of the lake was visible. Through the haze, we could even make out Scotchman Peak which we had climbed the day before.

After spending several minutes on the summit, we started back down. We decided to delay our lunch until we returned to the viewpoint. It was a perfect place to stop. We were sitting on one of the benches when we had a nice surprise. Not 50 feet away, almost at eye level, a bald eagle swooped by. It was an entertaining end to our lunch, and we started down.

Now that our trip stretched into the afternoon, we were seeing a few groups coming up. But I bet no one was going to the top of Gold Hill.

KML and GPX Tracks


According to the trailhead sign, this is Trail 3


Ferns line the trail near the start


1.3 km up the trail there's a bench with a narrow viewpoint


This old tree trunk next to the trail caught my eye


This is the gentlest switchback I've come across


We reached a viewpoint although the official one is ahead


Most birds kept high in the tree canopy, heard but not seen, except for this songbird


Apparently most people turn around at the viewpoint


Panorama from the viewpoint


But we continued up the trail


Trail 3 ends at a road


After walking up the road a short distance we noticed this trail and decided to try it


It follows a depression before climbing and intersecting a bike path


On the bike path we passed a big orange H, whatever that means


Heading to the first of two summit humps


Looking east across the east arm of Lake Pend Orielle. Left is the double summit of Scotchman Peak.


Less than 20 m away, the other summit hump bears a large cairn


1:24,000 Sandpoint, Oden, Talache, Sagle Topos (7.8 mi, 4019 ft,1860 ft)

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