This winter, travel to Priest Lake, Idaho in the heart of the International Selkirk Loop for a serene cross-country skiing experience. With five “Park-N-Ski” areas scattered around the lake, beginning and intermediate Nordic skiers have plenty of room to romp!
The 6.4 miles of ungroomed trails at Coolin Mountain on the south end of the lake are the closest to Sandpoint and Priest River. About halfway up the east side of the lake is the Rocky Point trail area, where a steep climb takes you from the parking area and warming hut to 4.3 miles of trails on top of a peninsula on the lake. Come on up to the northern end of the lake to Priest Lake State Park, where the trails not only have beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains, but the visitor center remains open in winter offering hot chocolate and coffee to chilly skiers! If track skiing is your thing, then try the groomed trails at Hanna Flats and the Priest Lake Golf Course, both on the west side of the lake. Ski through serene forests and meadows to see old growth cedars at Hanna Flats. A nearby airstrip is just the place for skate skiers to practice their strokes. In winter, Priest Lake Golf Course becomes Priest Lake Nordic Center. At 9.1 miles of trails it is the largest groomed network on the lake. An occasionally groomed trail for intermediate skiers connects the Golf Course network to the lakeshore and Hill's Resort, where you can rent equipment and even stay the night.
The Priest Lake trails require a Park N' Ski Permit if you visit November 15th through April 30th. These permits can be for three days or a whole year. They are good at Park-N-Ski areas throughout Idaho, and at Sno-Parks in Washington and Oregon, too! Visit the Priest Lake and State of Idaho Park and Recreation websites for more information about permits and cross-country skiing around Priest Lake.
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