Few moments capture my heart quite like those spent by a pristine lake in the late summer. If you love the feel of warm sand on your toes or the wind in your hair on a boat, Priest Lake is where you want to be.
To Do List
This Idaho hideaway has everything an adventure lover could want in a day trip. When we were making our plans, we called a local friend and asked about what we couldn’t miss on our trip. She recommended stopping at the Moose Knuckle to grab any supplies for our excursions, as well as a great burger for lunch. It’s a casual atmosphere with a really lovely patio.
She also suggested a walk around Hanna Flats, an old-growth cedar forest that felt almost enchanted. The ¼ mile trail takes you through a majestic forest with giant trees and delicate plants that make up the forest community. We were in awe of the size of these silent giants, and the sheer scale of them put our troubles in perspective. The story placards placed along the trail gave even more context to how special this area is—a former homestead site from 1921, the Hanna family settled here and early loggers nearby left the trees surrounding them alone, as did powerful wildfires.
This family owned and operated resort on the edge of Priest Lake has been run by the Hill family for generations. Sporting an award-winning restaurant and panoramic views, the patio is a great spot to grab a cocktail and enjoy the sound of the waves against the shoreline. Visitors return for decades as a part of their summer tradition. Cabins fill up months in advance, and the energetic staff makes sure you have everything you need in this remote locale. Don’t forget to take home a jar of Hill’s homemade barbeque sauce or huckleberry preserves to relive your vacation.
Another great spot to stay (and eat) is Cavanaugh’s in Coolin. You can take a boat across the lake to this stunning lakeside retreat, or stay in one of their seven luxury vacation rental units. We are partial to the fire pits they have on the beach where you can watch the sun go down. We chose to have dinner at their namesake restaurant overlooking the lake, and had the best fried pickles of our lives. Their skilled cooks prepare a wide-variety of dishes every day for dozens of hungry guests of all ages. The seared ahi and sweet potato tots were particularly enjoyable lakefront fare. The dock next to the restaurant has one of the most picturesque views, and it was all too tempting to take a dip in the crystal clear water. We sat at the end of the dock as the sun dipped behind the trees and took in the seemingly unending beauty of the nearby Selkirks as the water gently lapped against our feet. The short two hour drive home to Spokane was therapeutic after a long day in the mountain sun, and the memories we took with us are still making us smile.