10 Ways to Explore Sandpoint (The Locals Guide)

Because Sandpoint happens to be flanked by the Selkirks and the Cabinets, and folded into the curves of Lake Pend Oreille and the river, and because it’s rather postcard perfect, this little town fills up with visitors in the summer and winter.

The thing about coming to visit a new town is that it’s hard to feel at home and find all the sweet spots when you’re just here for a week or two. In gratitude for all the visitors and how they expose us to fashion sense beyond our borders (you may have noted, we need it), here’s a list of what to enjoy when you’re here.

  1. Mountain. We have some mountains and if you like trails to hike or bike, good views, and quick access, one of our favorite local options is Schweitzer Mountain Resort. This kid-friendly location is just a 25-minute drive from downtown. Take your bike, your hiking boots, your kids, your camera and zipline, let the lift schlepp your bike to the top, hike around and discover the huckleberries. Send your friends envy-inducing pictures.
  2. Gold Hill Trail #3. A 15-minute drive from town (south across the Long Bridge, left on Bottle Bay Road, then 4-ish miles to the trailhead, you can’t miss it), this trail winds its way up the side of Gold Hill with a few sneak peaks at the view. It’s less than three miles to the top where you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic of the river, the town, the Selkirks, the lake, and everything else we love about being here. It’s a safe and trafficked trail and great for kids. If you’re a biker, the 51-corner descent is an absolute delight.
  3. Mickinnick Trail. Just five minutes from town, this steep trail zig-zags up the mountain with the first great views of the Cabinets appearing in a half mile. Although this trail is steep, it offers bench views early in the hike so you can take littles along for big visual rewards without a lot of distance.
  4. Water. Sandpoint is surrounded by water that is loved and protected by the locals. Our deep, clean lake gets all-season use from kayakers, fat bikers on ice, brave spring water skiers, and paddle boarders alike. There are too many places to swim to list.
  5. Sandcreek and the Inlet. The creek that flows through Sandpoint is a favorite mellow kayak route. You can follow it inland from the city beach (rentals can be found downtown at several locations) and see wildlife of all sorts.
  6. The City Beach. A perfect way to spend the day with kids and friends, the sandy beach front is great for splashing, picnics, playgrounds, cruising on your skates, or taking naps on the lawn. There’s always a game of volleyball you can join, tennis courts, and basketball courts. And the backdrop: An expansive stretch of mountains across the lake.
  7. Town. For a little town, there’s a lot going on outdoors. From our efforts to support bike commuting to our town trail systems, it’s pretty easy to access the outdoors within city limits.
  8. The Pend Oreille Bay Trail. This 1.5 mile section of shoreline trail begins near the city beach and follows the lake toward the northeast. Isolated from roads, pleasantly wide and flat, it’s a great place for kids to bike, dogs to be walked (don’t forget your doggy bag), or anyone to escape the city feel without a drive.
  9. The Sand Creek Trail. Just before the City Beach, this new bike path follows the creek inland, connecting Sandpoint to Ponderay. There are steps down to the water where people enjoy the sunshine and children play. The path connects to the Cedar Street Bridge if you want to loop through town and get ice cream on your way.
  10. The Dover Trail: This paved bike trail goes from 5th Avenue due west toward Dover, where it turns into an optional dirt and raised wooden path through wetlands along the Pend Oreille River. The flat trail is great for families or the geographically curious. Many of us ride out to Dover to enjoy dinner on the decks of The Dish (their cocktails are a treat too) and roll home at night fall.

Regardless of your sport, marital status, or the size of your family, if you like to get outside, Sandpoint offers many great options with few logistics. And if you exhaust these ideas, just ask anyone at the coffee shop for more…. It’s called the Great Northwest for a reason. Explore more of Sandpoint online at Visitsandpoint.com. //

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