Spar Lake with Spar Peak in the background Spar Lake with Spar Peak in the background <p>A section of the freshly constructed trail</p>

Brining Trails Back to Life

  • September 29, 2017
  • Posted by Tim Pickel

Spar Lake is a small lake tucked into the mountains west of Troy. Most of the trails in the area are fairly steep, leading up to and around the peaks surrounding the lakes. Upon looking through some old forest service maps, however, our project partner found a relatively flat trail that went around the circumference of the lake and had last been marked in 1937. Which means this trail had not been touched in 80 years! After walking the tread he found that it could definitely be reworked and an opportunity for a new trail in the area was a real possibility.

The project consisted of quite a bit of work. Completely new tread had to be dug for about half of the 3.5 miles the historic trail ran. An old road bed combined moderate usage over the years meant the rest of the trail was in good enough condition to be left alone. With the trail being in the Kootenai National Forest, though, the digging that remained was a rooty and rocky task with potential to discourage even the most seasoned of trail dogs. The section that needed the most work, near the trailhead for Spar Peak, was an old growth cedar grove, dotted with giant trees and filled in with little ferns on the forest floor, making the setting for most of our work seem like a prehistoric forest. Our crew labored for 10 hard days and in the end we dug about a mile of the mile and a half needed, but we more than exceeded USFS expectations and put down some strong legwork to get the trail up and running by this time next season. It was a pretty surreal experience to be able to bring such an old trail back to life, and to make a small area of our public lands that much more accessible for people to enjoy for another 80 years.


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