Outdoors

Trail 302

Trail 302Upper Priest Lake Trail 302 is a pleasant, easy hike that traverses a predominately Douglas Fir forest for the first few miles. The trail then drops into an area of old growth cedar as it approaches the north end of Upper Priest Lake.

The trail crosses Ruby Creek as well as other smaller unnamed creeks and eventually follows the east shoreline of Upper Priest Lake to Trapper Campground. The trail passes by an old mine shaft, Coolin's cabin, and early hunting stands perched high in the ancient cedars.

The tread of the trail is in good shape and several wet areas are traversed via trail bridges. However, depending on weather, portions of the trail in the cedar grove area may be somewhat boggy.

The route to the Trail 302 trailhead is via USFS Road 302 (an extension of State Highway 57) from Nordman. Travel 21 miles north on USFS Road 302 and 1013 over Granite Pass to USFS Road 655. Turn right onto Road 655 and proceed for approximately 1/2 mile. The trailhead will be on your right and the vehicle parking area to your left, across from the trailhead.

 

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Vinther-Nelson Cabin

Vinther-Nelson CabinThe Vinther-Nelson Cabin is one of the best known historical landmarks in the Priest Lake area. The cabin was built on Eightmile Island in 1897 by the Crenshaw brothers. The Crenshaws resided in the cabin while they pursued their mining venture at the 'Deer Trail Lode' mine, a short distance from the cabin. After seven months of arduous work at the mine without success, the brothers sold the cabin to the W.J. Anders family who homsteaded the island for the next two years. In 1900, Anders sold the cabin to cousins Sam Vinther and Nels Nelson. The cabin remained in the Vinther and Nelson families until 1982 when it was designated as a National Historic Site. At that time, the families donated the cabin to the US Government and now serve as permanent caretakers and curators of the cabin. 

Vinther-NelsonThe Vinther and Nelson families have retained many of the artifacts related to life at the cabin in the early 1900s and they have graciously made them available for public viewing. Most of the cabin's original structural materials remain as testament to the building skills of the early pioneers of the lake. A visit to the cabin is a great way to take a step back in time and get a feel for the way of life at Priest Lake at the turn of the century. A small museum is located at the rear of the cabin and a beautiful walking trail leads to the top of the island where you can observe the land cleared by the Anders family in an valiant attempt to establish a farm. 

The cabin is located on the east side of Eightmile Island near the narrow channel that separates the island from the mainland and is accessible only via watercraft.

Open During Summer Only: Wednesday - Sunday
HOURS: 10am - 3pm
ADMISSION: Free

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Water Sports

Priest Lake is often termed Idaho's "Crown Jewel" lake because of its exceptionally clean, clear and deep water. As the sun's rays warm the water after the snow season, the lake begins its annual transformation into the premier water sports playground in the region. Priest Lake has 23,000 surface acres and nearly 80 miles of shoreline to meet the needs of even the most demanding water sports activities. Be you a power boater with skier or wake boarder in tow, paddle boater, personal watercraft zealot, kayaker, canoeist or sailboat enthusiast, Priest Lake has ample area to easily accommodate all boating activities without conflict. You simply won't find crowded launch ramps, congested boat traffic or long waits to obtain marina services at Priest Lake.

 

North of the main lake, boaters can travel the 2-mile Thorofare that links Priest Lake to Upper Priest Lake. The 1,300-acre Upper Lake is nestled in a magnificent pristine setting with mountains surrounding the entire lake. Sightseeing, camping, picnicking on a sandy beach, and simply enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature's wonderland are some of the popular Upper Lake activities. All water sport activities that involve towing (skiing, wake boarding, tubing etc) are prohibited on the Upper Lake and on the Thorofare. Additionally, all watercraft are required to traverse the Thorofare at "no wake" speed. These restrictions make the Thorofare and Upper Priest Lake an ideal playground for canoeing and kayaking.

 

More than a dozen boat launches are located around the lake. Most resorts and marinas have gas available as well as boat rentals and other boating services. The northernmost marina with gas available is at Elkins Resort. Kayak, canoe and pontoon boat rentals are also available through recreation, guide and rental services. The guide services also offer a variety of canoeing, kayaking and fishing packages. Check the web links below for specifics or request a Priest Lake Visitor's Guide from the Chamber of Commerce office at (888) 774-3785.

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Whitetail Butte

The view from Whitetail Butte offers something unique each time one ascends this 3,000 foot mound that rises abruptly from the Jack Pine Flats. The butte is only a few minutes travel from Coolin and the south end of the lake.

In summer, unspoiled views of the mountains surrounding the south end of the lake unfold before you. In fall, you may be greeted by a cloudbank between you and the forest floor, which affords a very different view of the Selkirk mountain peaks nudging their way through the fluffy cloud layer. In winter, the butte makes an exciting snowmobile ride with new vistas around each turn. In spring, a birds-eye view of turbulent runoff waters rushing down Priest River is an awesome sight. Whatever the time of year, Whitetail Butte is a close-in getaway that offers grand vistas and provides an ideal picnic site among the trees at the top of the butte. 

To reach Whitetail Butte from Coolin, travel south on East River Road (State Forest Road #1) until it intersects with State Forest Road #12 (5-1/2 miles). Turn right (west) onto Road #12 and proceed 3/4-mile to the intersection with State Forest Road #121. Turn left (south) onto Road #121 and follow it to the top of the butte. Most of the road from the base of the butte to the top is too narrow for two-way traffic and a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Be alert for oncoming vehicles and be prepared to back-up some distance to a bypass point if an oncoming vehicle is encountered.

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Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce Copyright© 2015 | PO Box 174 Coolin, Idaho 83821
Phone: (208) 443-3191
| Toll Free: (888) 774-3785