If it’s the raw beauty of Northern Idaho that you’re after, then look no further than the moderate hike to Beehive Lakes north of Coeur d’Alene.
Few adventures have been more inspiring to us than our recent trip to this majestic mountain lake.
Keep in mind that this hike isn’t for the faint of heart and certainly not for the ill-prepared. Hiking experience is required.
Coeur d’Alene, ID: Beehive Lakes Trail
The Beehive Lakes are a pair of small mountain lakes tucked tightly into the Selkirk Mountains of Idaho’s panhandle.
The trailhead is located about 2-hours north of Coeur d’Alene making it a perfect day-trip adventure.
Containing over 2000-miles of elevation gain in only 6 short miles of hiking, the Beehive Lakes trail is a moderately difficult hike.
After experiencing Beehive ourselves, we felt a need to share it with you as well. We hope you enjoy it.
If you’re making this a day-trip, leave from Coeur d’Alene early!
We actually turned our trip to Beehive Lakes into a backpacking excursion and stayed overnight.
However, with only a two-hour drive you can use your time wisely and make this a day-trip from CDA.
Another option we recommend is to stay in Sandpoint, ID the night of your hike to Beehive Lakes.
Driving from Coeur d’Alene
The first half of this drive is green and beautiful with a fast and smooth highway. And while still beautiful, the last half of the drive is neither fast nor smooth.
To reach Beehive Lakes trailhead, you’ll simply head north from Coeur d’Alene on Highway 95 for about an hour.
Then, you’ll turn west onto National Forest Road 231 near Samuels, Idaho. Following the Pack River, this route will be the last hour of the drive and it is mostly dirt road.
Near the last few miles, you can follow clearly marked signs for Beehive Lakes.
Small cars or low-clearance vehicles are not recommended, so please plan accordingly.
Arriving at the Trailhead
Luckily, the beginning of the trail to Beehive Lakes is well marked by a bridge crossing the Pack River.
Because of its popularity, parking may be difficult. However, if the lot is full you can get creative. Just make sure you aren’t blocking anyone else or the road.
Before you leave Coeur d’Alene, take a look at your destination in Google Maps with the link we’ve provided here.
You won’t have cell service at the trailhead. In planning our trip to Beehive, we used articles like this one to help plan each step before leaving home.
The Hike to Beehive Lakes
According to AllTrails, an app we highly recommend, the exact distance of this hike is 6.7-miles, round trip.
That means that in the short span of just over three miles, you will be climbing 2,043-feet in elevation.
We had our trusty pooch to lead our way up the trail.
The trail is not marked by signs. However, for a majority of the journey, a dirt path will make your route quite obvious.
A series of tight switchbacks will signify the halfway point. The trail is a bit steep and rocky at some points so watch your step, especially on the way down.
The last leg of the hike requires some moderate traversing of granite slabs.
This is where the dirt trail will disappear making it slightly difficult to find your way up. However, rock cairns help to mark the way making it hard to get lost.
At this point in the hike, we almost went too far and didn’t see the cairns. Eventually, we noticed our mistake and easily found the right path again.
Once at the top of the trail, it’s possible to hike around the beautiful mountain lake. Another dirt path begins clearly in a clockwise direction around the lake. You will be required to do some bouldering on the far side of the lake.
If you have time, relax and enjoy the views! I even did a bit of fishing.
When to Go
Wait until about mid-June as there can still be snow into May.
After that, you’ll have a decent hike through October as well.
Always check weather conditions and be prepared for the unexpected.
Especially in the heat of summer, making sure to bring plenty of water is very important for this hike.
Gear Up for Beehive Lakes Trail
As I’ve mentioned before, we made this trip to Beehive Lakes an overnight backpacking stay. This requires a bit more preparation and I’ll give more advice on that later.
If you’re just hoping to squeeze an unforgettable hike into your Coeur d’Alene vacation, a day trip is also possible! For that make sure to bring at least the following items.
Day Hike Essentials
- Bear Spray – this one is often overlooked but extremely important. Be bear aware and always keep bear spray close at hand.
- Compass – having a compass and knowing the trail are keys to getting out of a sticky situation.
- Map – the compass’s best friend. A screenshot on your phone or a fancy app will do, but a good old fashion topo map is better.
- Water – whether it’s a Nalgene water bottle or CamelBack hydration pack, water is a necessity on this hike.
- Good Footwear – hiking boots might not be absolutely necessary, but something with good tread certainly is.
- Snacks – keeping a small snack in your pocket is always smart!
- Firstaid-kit – we just bought this little yellow emergency pack for this trip. We didn’t need it this time, but at least we’ll have it when we do.
- Light Raincoat – conditions change fast in the mountains. Hiking wet and cold is a bad combination.
- Sunscreen – the sun is hot when you’re up so high.
Hiking in Style
- Day Pack – having a small pack to carry water and snacks can make your hike much more enjoyable.
- Trekking Poles – if you’ve read this post then you know Beehive Lakes trail is a steep one. Poles can make it a bit nicer.
- Camera – we use our iPhone to take the photos in this post and it works just fine, don’t you think?
- Fishing Pole – the main Beehive Lake is stocked with fish and can make for some fun angling. A single day license in Idaho won’t you cost too much either.
- Sunglasses – they aren’t just for looking cool but cool counts for something.
- Bug spray – while you can get away without it, we were sure glad to have it on this hike.
Our Backpacking Gear List
Much of the items above are also very necessary for an overnight backpacking trip.
Listed below is some of the additional gear we used on this trip.
Just remember, the lighter your pack the easier your hike. With that said, take a second to read REI’s great article on the Ten Essentials.
We make sure to bring the essentials, but also throw in a few extras to make the trip a bit more enjoyable albeit a heavier load.
This is some of our favorite gear. And it certainly made our trip to Beehive Lakes even better! We do get a small commission for these links at no cost to you and it helps us to keep making great articles like this one.
- MSR Miniworks EX Water Filter – this is one we actually just purchased for this trip and can’t recommend it more! The water filter meets all the requirements, is fast, and just makes getting clean water easy.
- Dry Sack – this works well for keeping important things safe in the rain. However, it works even better when stuffed with snow to chill those two beers you packed to the top for a lakeside celebration. Yes, there was a bit of snow left at Beehive Lake.
- Jetboil – my favorite backpacking cookware. This thing boils water super fast and super easy! Pack a bit of instant coffee to wake up with a mountain lake view and a quick cup of joe.
- Mountain House Adventure Meals – also a good pair to the Jetboil are these surprisingly tasty freeze-dried meals. I linked to the Chili Mac one that we enjoyed, but their Beef Stroganoff comes highly recommended as well. This is our favorite brand for backpacking food.
- Nalgene – you can’t go wrong with a good Nalgene and we like the narrow mouth for easier drinking on the trail.
- ENO Hammock and Straps – imagine sitting down on a hard rock after lugging a heavy sack of equipment up a mountain. Now imagine relaxing by a peaceful mountain lake with your feet up in a hammock.
- ENO FastFly Rain Tarp – this is one of our favorite camp additions to make the site feel a bit cozier. On top of that, it works well against the hot sun and heavy rain. It’s meant to go over your hammock but works well as canopy too.
- Figure 9 Tent Line Kit – these might just be the best thing on this list. We actually use them instead of the built in line on our ENO rain tarp because it makes things so much easier!
- Tent – the one we use is a Kelty Grand Mesa 2 which is no longer sold. We love this tent for its reasonable price and easy setup. The new version is the Kelty Late Start 2 and is a great tent for the price point.
- Sleeping Pads – we use the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite sleeping pad. It’s easy to blow up, lightweight, and feels great!
- Ultralight Watertight Medical Kit – this is the emergency kit we got for backpacking.
- Bear Spray – don’t leave home without it!
- Frugal Navigator – we have to recommend these maps from Scott Franz. You can’t beat the price and quality. We linked you to the correct map for Beehive Lakes. You could also download a free PDF of the same map direct from the USGS website here. Just remember, your phone battery doesn’t last forever.
There is a lot of great backpacking equipment out there and these are just a few of things that made our trip one to remember.
But experiences like these aren’t about the gear. So get the necessities and get hiking! Coeur d’Alene and all of Northern Idaho are calling.