It was early in the summer season and the dogs and I decided to venture out on a hike that I had always wanted to do, but never got around to. Mostly because it was in my own backyard. And when you’re a traveler, you tend to travel away from your backyard. But this summer we made a commitment to stay in the area and explore all that North Idaho has to offer.
One of the hikes I had been eying for at least 6 years was Roman Nose Lakes Trail #165. The Roman Nose Lakes trail is a moderate climb with a 974-foot elevation gain and a manageable 4.5-mile round trip.
Out of all the hikes, we did this summer, this trail was by far my favorite. There was no temper tantrum thrown on a hillside, or falling down, or getting lost. Dodging the aforementioned events was not the only reason I liked this trial, however. Although it has a decent climb, it is not overwhelming. Which means it is good for kids, seniors (that’s dogs and humans) and the slightly out of shape people who like their beer.
I have no idea who that last remark resembles.
The hike is also a water dog’s dream as there are three different lakes. The first lake is located near the parking lot and can be accessed via a wooden boardwalk that meanders across a meadow with alpine trees sprinkled about and a mountainous rocky backdrop.
The lake is crystal clear and has lots of access points for you and your dog to take a quick hop in. And I say quick hop in because I am not sure the water is actually ever warm. During our July visit the lake water was colder than expected, but it did not prevent Boomer from swimming. Although nothing really does. We’re in the middle of November right now and I am pretty sure given the opportunity, he’d still jump in a lake for a swim regardless of the temperature.
Boomer isn’t the sharpest knife in the box.
Once Boomer had cooled off in the first lake it was time for Jovi, Boomer and I to head up the hillside. The Roman Nose Lakes Trail can be shortened by about two miles if you forgo hiking to the upper lakes. But really why would you want to? Especially when you have a water dog, they will want to check out and swim in all the lakes!
A second boardwalk is located by the day-use parking lot leading into the woods crossing a creek and dropping you off onto a dirt trail. Shortly thereafter the trail forks, with either direction having its perks. Although you will not have any FOMO (fear of missing out) as the trail is a loop, so regardless of which direction you go, you will return from the opposite direction.
I took the left fork which gave me stellar views of the lake by the parking lot as we zig-zagged up the hillside.
About halfway we found a patch of snow, which the dogs found to be quite enjoyable. Who doesn’t like to play in the snow in the middle of July? I decided to play a little myself and took my boots off and iced my feet for a bit on the warm sunny day. Before putting my boots back on I thought it would be hilarious to make a snow angel. I plopped myself down on the ground and assumed the position. I quickly realized that snow angels are best made in light and fluffy snow, not icy snow that has been hanging around for the past 4 months.
It turned out it wasn’t so hilarious after all.
After putting my boots back on, we continued up the hillside, finally reaching the top. I had read on the trail guide that the top is a spot where you can easily lose the trail. And that we did. I followed a trail that seemly dead ended off a cliff. I decided that was probably not the trail and backtracked my way until I found another trail that was marked with just a wooden post. It looked like it once had a sign indicating where to go but only a twisted up nail was left dangling from the post.
The trail headed downhill, which I felt was logical that I was on the right path. If I was at the top of the trail, it would make sense to be descending back down the mountain.
Shortly after taking the downhill trail I found another trail the split off with another post with no sign, but again twisted up nails that looked like they had once held a sign. The dogs and I followed the sign to another post, again with no sign. The trail forked with one trail leading to the left, to one of the upper lakes and to the right, to the other upper lake. If you are short on time and only have time for one of the two upper lakes, we preferred the lake to the left.
Both trails to the lake are one-mile round trip, back to the main trail. Heading to the left lake, we found a wooden boardwalk leading up to some level spots, near the lake, that would make for nice tent camping. The entry to the lake is easy, allowing human and dog swimmers alike a quick entrance into the water.
The trail to the right lake was not as well maintained as the rest of the trails. There were some down trees to climb over, which is always fun when you’ve got dogs on leash. And no I can’t let them off leash. Well, I can’t let Jovi off leash. She tends to wander and I am positive she would bring a bear right back to me and be like “look, mom, look what I found”.
Although sharper than her brother, Jovi is also not the sharpest knife in the box.
Once we reached the lake to the right I found the entry to the water more difficult. Not that it prevented Boomer or Jovi from getting in the lake, but definitely less easy. There was not much open space around the lake, which did not provide great lounging opportunities. I will say that out of the three of us, I believe I was the only one looking to lounge.
We followed the trail back to the original fork and made our way to the parking lot. Boomer batted his puppy eyes, which I knew was him asking for one more swim. Because I am weak, we headed back to the lake by the parking lot, where Boomer and Jovi enjoyed the alpine lake and I soaked up the sunshine.
How to get to Roman Nose Lakes: head south of Bonners Ferry on Idaho State Highway 95, turning at the golf course, 2.5 miles out of town, onto Deep Creek Loop. Follow and turn right on Lion’s Den Road (there will be a brown sign for Snow Creek Falls where you turn). The road takes a hard right onto West Side Road. Cross the railroad tracks and continue until you reach a fork. Take a left on the gravel road, Snow Creek Road (FS 402). Drive 9.5 miles on FS 402, taking a left onto FS 1007. Drive 7.3 miles over Caribou and Ruby Passes. Take a right on FS 2667 and follow for 0.5 miles. Take a right again to the day area parking, or left if you are camping. The road and trail are best accessed in late June to early September, although depending on the amount of annual snowpack, be sure to check road and trail conditions.