Pretty mountain lake with abundant huckleberries
Distance: 6.85 miles roundtrip
Type: out and back
Difficulty: moderate with 1.358′ elevation gain
Best season: July – September
The Selkirk Crest in northern Idaho is one of our favorite Inland Northwest hiking destinations. This area is so wild that grizzly bear and caribou inhabit its remote corners. It is also home to beautiful high mountain lakes backed by stunning granite cliffs. We try to visit at least one time a year and late August is our favorite month there. If you want delicious huckleberries, this area can’t be beat.
To date, our favorite Selkirk Crest hikes have been to Beehive and Harrison lakes. We are still checking some of the less popular lakes off our bucket list. The weekend before Labor Day 2017 was a great time for us to check out Snow and Bottleneck lakes for some huckleberry hunting.
The trail to Snow and Bottleneck lakes begins at a small pullout along Forest Road 402 (elevation 4,323’). There is a trail junction just 1.5 miles in with the left fork leading to Snow Lake and the right to Bottleneck. Strong hikers could bag both lakes in an approximately thirteen mile day. Adventurous hikers can turn this into a lollipop route by leaving the trail and crossing over the divide between the two lakes. We decided to split the route into two day hikes.
We hiked Snow Lake on the first day and saved Bottleneck for the second. Having spent the night in nearby Bonners Ferry, we got an early start and quickly covered the 1.5 miles of shared trail to Snow Lake. At the junction, we took trail 187 to the right.
Just like the previous day, we quickly got into masses of ripe huckleberries just past the trail split. At 3.38 miles from the TH, we arrived at Bottleneck Lake (elevation 5,681’). We hadn’t seen anyone on the trail, but we did find one young couple camped at the lake. They were in the only campsite we saw, which was where the trail bottomed out at the lake.
Bottleneck was less scenic than Snow Lake, but it was still a worthwhile hike. If we were to return to either lake to backpack, it would be Snow. We found a nice spot along the lake and spent about an hour picking huckleberries.
Back at the trailhead, we had an interesting conversation with a local couple who looked to be about our age. They were headed out huckleberry picking and inquired if we had seen any bear—it seems they had picked berries along the same trail a couple years prior and had been chased off by a black bear defending its patch. This year they had bear spray, but the woman still very hesitant. I already knew it, but it was a good reminder, don’t get between a bear and huckleberries!
Direction to trailhead: driving north on US 95 from Sandpoint, Idaho, turn left into Naples. Bear right onto Deep Creek Road and drive 5.7 miles and turn left toward Snow Creek Road. Continue 2 miles and take a left at the Y. Follow travel Forest Road 402 9.5 washboard miles to the trailhead which is more of a large pull-out than a parking lot.
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