The Kaniksu (ka-nic-su) National Forest is one of three forests comprising the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The other two are St. Joe and Coeur d'Alene National Forests. The Kaniksu National Forest is located in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington and is comprised of 904,081 acres. There are twenty-five developed campgrounds of which nine met the selection criteria.
Thousands of years ago, ice started to sculpt the land in northern Idaho. Today, rain and snow continue to shape the land known as the Kaniksu National Forest. The abundance of rain and snow allow the Forest to offer a variety of recreation opportunities and camping locations in its setting of rugged mountains, gentle hillsides, and long, lush valleys.
The glaciers carved the many lakes found in the forest. Most of the beautiful but fragile alpine lakes, such as Roman Nose, Spruce and Perkins, are accessed only by hiking. (Dispersed camping may be permitted at such locations but since they are classified as undeveloped, they are not included in this campground review.) The lure of the lakes' pristine beauty may attract the hiker but interesting things happen along the way. Wildlife abounds in the forest. White tail deer stare with curiosity and black bears lope from sight as the hiker passes. If the hiker is very lucky an endangered Woodland Caribou might be spotted. Eagles and osprey soar above and chickadees and finches dart between the branches below. The butterscotch scent of Ponderosa pine mingles with the sweet Cedar or sharp twang of White pine. The amazing thing is that no matter how many times the hiker walks a trail, the Kaniksu National Forest provides a variation on the original experience that is equally memorable.
Those ancient sheets of ice gave Kaniksu National Forest some of the best sports fishing lakes around - Hayden, Priest and Pend Oreille lakes. Hayden Lake contains Kokanee Salmon, Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brook and Brown Trout, along with Largemouth Bass. Priest Lake has given up a world's record Mackinaw (Lake) Trout and a 37-pound Kamloop Trout was pulled from Lake Pend Oreille. Boating and sailing abound on each lake. There are several Kaniksu National Forest developed camping locations strategically placed along the shores of these lakes for car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthisiasts.
What is a forest without trees? This is not a question of concern for the Kaniksu National Forest. Although some mountain-sides show a patchwork of clear cuts, a thick green cover of fir, pine, and spruce dominates. Autumn finds the green accented by the fall colors of cottonwood, beech, aspen and an occasional maple. Most of the forest's trees are second or more growth. However, there are groves that have never known the logger's axe. Perhaps the best example in the Forest is the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars. Located fourteen miles northwest of Nordman, Idaho, this grove contains 800 to 3000-year old giant cedars and is a good day trip from any of the campgrounds along Priest Lake, such as Outlet or Luby Bay. Close to these campgrounds and the Reeder Bay campground is Hanna Flats. Hanna Flats is an interpretive trail that provides insight to the forces, both natural and man-made, the forest has been dealt.
In contrast, the Copper Falls Geologic Area's nature trail, in the eastern section of the Kaniksu National Forest, gives the visitor an understanding of how the water, soil, and vegetation work together. The Water, Woods, and Wildlife trails at Robinson Lake campground provide insight to the relationship of these three elements. Robinson Lake campground also offers great birding for its campers.
The Kaniksu National Forest is a place of beauty and solitude, of activity and tranquility, and of pristine wilderness and groomed forest. It is a place for hiking, canoeing, camping, birding, fishing and many other recreational activities. It is a special place where a visitor can enjoy the smell of an ancient cedar grove, the sight of a majestic eagle soaring across a clear blue sky and the shout of a young child catching its first Trout. The Kaniksu National Forest is waiting for you to come and find your special place.
3815 Schreiber Way
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814-8363
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
Rt. 4, Box 4860
Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805
HCR 5, Box 207
Priest River, Idaho 83856
1602 Ontario St.
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864