Round Lake State Park, Idaho
Round Lake State Park
Near Sandpoint Idaho
Sunset from the Tromp the Swamp hike.
I asked my husband to find a state park in Northern Idaho near Silverwood theme park for our family vacation. I mentioned Priest Lake assuming that he would reserve one of their 435 campsites on the lake since it is so large and popular. When he told me he reserved a campsite for 3 days at a place called ‘Round Lake’ I was pretty annoyed. I gave him one thing to do and he found the smallest campground at a lake I had never heard of. 🙂 It was too late to change it, so I decided to make the best of it. I must say now that I was incredibly suprised at how beautiful, serene and awesome Round Lake was.
Round Lake State Park is located about 10 miles south of Sandpoint Idaho and has 51 campsites. The lake is surrounded by 142 acres of forest and has 3 hiking trails. Stewardship Trail, Swamp Tromp and Trapper’s Trail which is one of the best trails I have been on (More about the trails later) . They have hot showers, flushing toilets and a gift shop/learning center located in a beautiful log cabin stucture. The rangers are friendly, helpful and answered my questions happily. Round lake is round in case you were wondering.
We camped at campsite 22 and it was spacious and mostly private. It was located near the outdoor amphitheatre, but it wasn’t used for any demonstrations or lectures while we were there. From our campsite we could see the lake through the trees. It was 99 degrees one of the days we were there, but the breeze from the lake kept us cool. The sound the breeze made through the trees was even better.
I had read that there was a resident moose near and around Round Lake which excited me since I have never seen one before in person. I was on a mission to find him and to hopefully get some great photos. The animals in the area are very diverse and unlike any we are used to seeing. There were Osprey nests in the trees and every so often one would swoop down into the lake for a meal. The turtles, that periodically poked their heads out of the water, caught my interest. All weekend long I kept a close eye (and camera) on the water in anticipation of seeing them again. The kids spotted a muskrat under the docks, and I realized I had never seen one before. Among the other animals that live at the lake are curious squirrels, chipmunks, birds, beavers, etc.
During our stay we saw many people fishing for trout and perch. There are 2 long piers and throughout the day fisherman came and went. Some set up chairs, a cooler and stayed most of the day. It looked like a relaxing way to spend a summer day. You can rent canoes and row boats at the learning center at a reasonable price, but a few people brought their own boats as there is a boat launch on the beach.
There are three trails at Round Lake. My favorite was ‘Trapper Trail’. It is by far one of the most beautiful trails I have been on. I woke up very early our first morning there and decided to catch the sunrise on the west side of the lake. The trail starts at the beach/day use area and hugs the lake for the first part of the trail. It is an interpretive trail, so there are signs indicating what is around you (Beaver Dams, Osprey, Turtles etc.) and informative information in simple terms so kids can understand as well. I didn’t do the entire hike that morning but resumed with my oldest daughter later that day. (I was also determined to find the resident moose!). It is a pretty easy hike and it’s only a 1.8 mile loop. Children will have no problem completing this hike and will enjoy the diverse sections of the hike. As you begin, the trees are dense and there are bushes between you and the lake. This part offers amazing views and a breathtaking sunrise.
You are then led into a forested area with a side trip to Cocolalla Creek. You cross the creek over a sturdy yet rustic wooden bridge and continue on through 2 or 3 switchbacks that lead into an old growth forest of Pine and Douglas Fir.
Still looking for the moose. 🙂
You can still view the lake from here and we were able to catch a glimpse of the rest of our family canoeing. Toward the end of the trail you are in a field like clearing where we saw many colorful butterflies, dragonflies and tall swaying grass. This section is very pleasant and peaceful. You eventually go over another wooden bridge while crossing Cocolalla Creek a second time.
Still no moose…
Toward the end of the trail you find yourself walking alongside the campground and then back to the day use area where you began. We found out there were some geocaches on this trail and found one toward the end. If you have never heard of geocaching read my post: ‘What is geocaching’.
At this point I was disappointed that I saw no signs of the moose…
A Geocache hiding place.
The second hike is the Swamp Tromp trail. This is a very short and flat trail but very picturesque as well. I chose to go at sunset as I was sure the view would be remarkable. It was even better than I thought. This trail is also a loop and is .2 miles. The halfway point is at the bank of the lake and there is a perfectly situated bench to watch the sunset. (See photo at top) The sunset was beautiful and the hundreds of lilypads floating turned a golden color as the sun went down. It made my evening! I also kept my eyes open for the moose even though my hope of finding him was fading.
I didn’t really do much of the Stewardship Trail. I started and turned around after a half hour. From what I saw it was just an ordinary hike in the woods. I was also alone too so I felt like it may not be safe for me to go any other farther. Now that I think of it that darn moose was probably somewhere near the Stewardship Trail!
My fish cloud!
Oh I forgot to mention the lightning and wind storm. It seems that everytime we come to North Idaho we experience some sort of storm. This storm came on while we were sleeping. We awoke to lightning, thunder and wind! Lots of wind! So much so that our tent stakes came up and our tent was leaning to one side. My husband had to brave the rain and wind to secure our tent. It was exciting yet frightening at the same time. It was a great way to end our stay at Round Lake. We packed up and left the next morning while the rain poured down. We were so grateful that the weather turned bad when it was time for us to leave.
So if you are looking for a quiet campground with great trails, a beautiful lake, and tons to do… Round Lake may be what you are looking for. Even just for the day ($4 vehicle entry fee) it is definitely worth checking out. And if you see the moose be sure to let me know!!! 🙂
Round Lake State Park is located 10 mi. S. of Sandpoint; 36 mi. N. of Coeur d’Alene, From Coeur d’Alene travel N. on Hwy 95 approximately 34 miles, turn W. on Dufort Rd. From Sandpoint travel S. on Hwy 95 approximately 10 miles, turn W. on Dufort Rd.
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