- Cabinet Mountains
- Campsites at the lake, including a bear box
- The trail was in great shape. We climbed over only 2 trees, both on trail 161.
Trail #52 is a packed dirt trail paralleling Lightning Creek for much of the way to the lake by staying high above the creek. It crosses a number of tributaries on wooden bridges. The ascent is gradual and easy, gaining only about 600 feet in the 2 miles to the lake.
The trail circumnavigates the eastern and northern shores of the lake, leading further and further towards the headwaters of Lightning Creek. The headwall is reached at around the 3-mile mark and here the ascent begins in earnest. A series of switchbacks dissects the side of the mountain and helps with the 1,000-foot ascent over the following 2 miles.
The Pend Oreille Divide opens up vistas of the Selkirks in the west, Purcells to the north and Cabinets in the east. The latter is somewhat blocked by Mount Pend Oreille, the tallest peak in this area. It’s worth climbing, but when we were there thick fog enveloped the mountain and dashed all hopes for a spectacular view.
To complete the loop, head west along the divide (trail #67) for about a mile. The trail first moves along the eastern side of the ridge, then climbs and shifts to the western side, thereby avoiding the unnamed peak between Mount Pend Oreille and Lunch Peak. On the approach to trail 161, the path crosses the ridge and in a short switchback moves lower to the Y. Trail #161 loses altitude quickly and makes this counter-clockwise loop much more manageable than a clockwise tour. Towards the end of this segment, the trail closely follows an old logging road and switchbacks down to trail #52. Take a right and head back to the trailhead approximately half mile away.
- Continue along trail #67 (Pend Oreille Divide trail). This is part of the Idaho State Centennial Trail. Good stopping points are Lunch Peak (featuring a lookout tower) to the south and Pend Oreille Peak to the north.