This 8-mile loop has it all—views, fishing, waterfowl, wildlife, and a profusion of summer flora. Begin by starting up Lightning Creek Road just north of sprawling Lake Pend Oreille ("pon-der-ay") to Trail 52 and hike a gentle 2-mile grade to Lake Darling, a haven for moose and an excellent camping spot. The route continues around the lake's north side and up Trail 67 to stunning views of the Selkirk, Coeur d'Alene, and Cabinet Mountains from the top of 6,755-foot Mt. Pend Oreille. Beargrass, lupine and arnica flourish in July. Hike downhill on Trail 161 to finish the loop.
Option: To turn this loop into a 12-mile overnight, reserve the Lunch Peak Lookout, which has drive-up access and a scenic 2-mile ridgeline connection via Trail 67 to Mt. Pend Oreille and the original loop.
Info: Lookout rental: www.reserveusa.co. Kootenai National Forest: (406) 293 6211; www.fs.fed.us/r1/kootenai
-Hike provided by Rich Landers, author of 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest (The Mountaineers Books)
Location: 48.4031096, -116.1490488
Location: 48.4153592, -116.1754417
Mount Pend Oreille