Not to be confused with its popular namesake
near Vancouver, British Columbia, Grouse Mountain is an obscure and lowly
hill on the western shore of Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho's Bonner County.
During my research for
Blacktail Mountain to the south, I had picked out Grouse Mountain as
a possible second hiking objective for the same day. While we had
no issues climbing Little Blacktail Mountain on 29 March 2019, the snow
on Grouse Mountain was more abundant and less supportive. Rather
than spend a long day post-holing and floundering through deep snow, we
decided to abandon our attempt on Grouse Mountain, and in retrospect,
this was probably a wise decision. On 22 April 2019, Zosia and I
were wrapping up a whirlwind road trip to central Oregon, and since we
were passing through the area, we decided to give Grouse Mountain another
From US Highway 95, turn east onto Sagle Road about 4.7 kilometres
south of the south end of Long Bridge near Sandpoint or 64 kilometres
north of the interchange between Highway 95 and I-90 in Coeur d'Alene.
Ignore all side roads and drive for about 6.9 kilometres to a
T-intersection with Discovery Way. Turn south and drive for about
800 metres passing under a big ranch sign. Veer left onto Lewis
Trail and drive for about 900 metres to a junction with Grouse Mountain
Trail. Keep right and continue for about another 770 metres until
the pavement ends. About 60 metres further, a small pullout just
before a locked gate has room for maybe two vehicles. Be sure not
to block the locked gate or any private access roads if parking further
back on the pavement.
Starting from the locked gate, we hiked along the continuation of the
gravel road which is remarkably well-maintained and was snow-free on this
day. About 2.5 kilometres from the gate, we spotted a distinct
beaten path heading into the forest. We were not sure if this path
would lead anywhere, but knowing that we would eventually have to leave
the road anyway, this seemed like a logical spot to do so (given that
this is prime snowmobile and OHV country, it is surprising that there are
no existing roads that run all the way to the top of Grouse Mountain).
Not entirely unexpectedly, the beaten path petered out fairly soon after
we left the road, but we pushed on anyway through some light bush to gain
the open north ridge of Grouse Mountain. Despite the odd bushy
section or lingering snow patch, our hike up the north ridge was most
enjoyable. Some of the vistas from the ridge are actually superior
to that from the summit, and at one point, we also startled a young moose
which disappeared before we had a chance to snap a photograph.
A plateau along the north ridge of Grouse Mountain grants an unobstructed
view of the eastern half of Lake Pend Oreille. At left in the hazy
When Zosia and I reached the summit of Grouse Mountain, we stopped only long
enough to snap some photos before wandering south to a clearing which
granted some nice views of the southern half of Lake Pend Oreille. We
initially considered sitting down here for a snack, but after catching a
few ticks crawling up our pant legs, we got out of there pretty quickly
and promptly began our descent.
Sonny approaches the summit cairn on Grouse Mountain.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
Sonny and Zosia stand near the summit of Grouse Mountain (1289 metres).
Instead of retracing our steps along the north ridge, we opted to take a
short cut down the western slopes in hopes of saving some extra time and
distance. We encountered a few more deep snow patches here, but luckily,
they were generally short-lived. The bushwhacking was a bit more heinous
though, and there were moments where I began to have second thoughts
about our choice of route. After a lot more thrashing than I would have
liked, we finally emerged onto our original well-maintained road albeit
along a section that was well beyond where we had originally left it. We
briefly hiked along the road only to leave it again with the lure of
another short cut along a rougher and more overgrown road. We followed
this rougher road until it started to turn uphill, and at this point, we
re-entered the forest to continue our descent. Thankfully, the
bushwhacking here was light, and travel was pleasant and easy.
Near the bottom, we inadvertently emerged from the forest onto private
property, but we only had a short distance to walk out the driveway and
back to my car.
Zosia wanders toward the south end of the summit ridge.
At the south end of the summit
ridge, Zosia gets a nice view of the southern half of Lake Pend
Here is another look at the southern half of Lake Pend Oreille. At
left is Packsaddle