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Coeur d' Alene
Priest Lake Activities
Priest Lake Idaho Hike to the Plowboy Campground at
Upper Priest Lake
Destination: Priest Lake, Idaho
This trip report describes a terrific hike along a well
maintained trail through a vibrant section of forest filled with towering
trees and a crumbling old trapper's log cabin. The destination and
turnaround point is a gorgeous remote lake offering beauty and solitude.
Interested? Read on and learn about this hike to the Plowboy Campground on
the shores of Upper Priest Lake in the Idaho Panhandle.
The hike to Upper Priest Lake is quite easy for
experienced hikers and doable for energetic families. The trail is not too
long (six miles round trip), wandering through a wonderful forest, following
a well maintained, mostly level hiking trail. The route is family friendly
in that there is a paved parking lot, an outhouse, and good signage at the
start of the trail and another outhouse at the turnaround spot.
Your destination, the Plowboy Campground on Upper
Priest Lake, is accessible only by hiking trail or by water. Along the way
you'll hike through a dense forest and if you stay alert, you'll discover an
old abandoned log cabin. Your destination is a remote campground on the
shores of the lake where you can sit and soak your feet in the lake and
appreciate undeveloped beauty, the smoothing sounds of nature and
(typically) the absence of other people and their noisy inventions (cars,
motorcycles, jet skis, motorboats, etc.). The entire shoreline of Upper
Priest Lake is a scenic area (part is owned by the State of Idaho the rest
is owned by Federal agency). It's a magical spot!
Upper Priest River flows into Upper Priest Lake. A
3.5-mile thorofare flows from Upper Priest Lake to (lower) Priest Lake.
Most of the lower lake is also owned by the State or Federal government with
a couple campgrounds, some deeded property and some federally leased
property (upon which are personal cabins or resort properties).
You can find the Plowboy Campground hiking trailhead at
the far north west end of Priest Lake near the Beaver Creek Campground. The
trailhead is well marked and offers free day parking adjacent to an
outhouse, trailhead sign and the start of this trail. Note that a much
shorter trail to the Portage also starts from this parking lot so be
certain you head out on the trail to the Plowboy Campground on Upper Priest
Typically the trail is not busy I've come across one
or two couples or families hiking and perhaps the odd mountain biker but
typically it's just you, silence and the trail. On this hike you will be
surrounded by tall trees, thick deadfalls and dense foliage.
Keep an eye out for wildlife. You may spot a deer or
woodpecker and note that this area of the Idaho Panhandle is bear country.
It is wise to check ahead of time for any Forest Service notices regarding
bear (check the Idaho Panhandle National Forests web site (http://www.fs.usda.gov/ipnf).
If you are already in the vicinity of the lake and want to take this hike
but wonder about bear activity then check with the Camp hosts at Beaver
Creek Campground for current news before venturing out on this hike.
I have completed this hike many times and have spotted
the occasional deer but no bear. However I have had a large black bear
tromp right through my campsite at Beaver Creek Campground near the
trailhead for this hike.
A terrific old trapper cabin, majestic in its own way
but flattened by the passage of time and forces of nature, can be spotted by
the alert hiker. Keep an eye out for the cabin it is on the left (west)
side of the trail just before you reach the upper lake. More than once I
have walked right past this crusty old cabin, its thick log walls blending
in with the forest. If you miss it on your way to the lake then you'll know
to try again on your way back it is about two blocks distance from the
When I reflect on this hike I think of the colors of
nature the deep green of the forest, the blue gray of the sky and water
and the sound of the wind and silence, your rewards for venturing out on
this hike and reaching the upper lake.
Enjoy the GoNorthwest.com photo moment which provides
a pictorial virtual hike along this wonderful trail.
Plowboy Hike - low bandwidth
Plowboy Hike - high bandwidth
For more information:
Best selection of books on the
Idaho, 7th Edition by James P. Kelly. This food, wine and travel
writer offers his own unique perspective and local knowledge of the Gem State by
providing original trip ideas along with all the details to plan your vacation.
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