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pebble beach in the panhandle
Overview: Trail following Maiden Creek down to the shore of Lake Pend Oreille. The shore has a pebble-covered beach, a camping area and is next to Maiden Rock--a large granite outcropping overlooking the lake. Keep in mind the entire trail is downhill; hiking back out involves a 1200' elevation gain to get back to the trailhead.
Hike: From the shared trailhead with Talache-Blacktail Trail and Little Blacktail Trail, head south following the signs for Maiden Creek 321. Initially, the trail follows an old road. After about 100' or so, the trail forks off to the left and is signed 321. The trail heads southeast, gently sloping downhill.
After less than half a mile, the trail curves slightly to the left of a marshy lake and stays on the north side of the lake at the base of a steep talus slope. The cliffy mountain above you to your left is Blacktail Mountain, and it looks quite dramatic from this angle. Footing is rocky through the base of this slope, but once you get past it, the trail is back to compact dirt.
Maiden Creek becomes more noticeable as you head downhill and more water appears from the creek bed. There is plenty of shade from the tall trees lining the trail, and wildflowers are numerous during the summer months. Given the layout of the trail, I imagine that portions of it hold snow/ice well into the spring.
After about a mile, the descent suddenly becomes much steeper, so steep in fact; you'll be happy if you brought trekking poles. The trail surface becomes looser dirt, which does nothing to help with traction in the steepest sections. There are a few switchbacks, but generally, the trail is straight downhill alongside the creek. Every so often, there is a glimpse of the lake ahead of you, but it is mostly hidden until the very end.
At the end of the steep downhill, the lake suddenly appears before you as the trail ends at a small bay on the beach. Maiden Rock is prominently on your left, as is a small campground. There are plenty of logs to sit on along the beach and enjoy the views. There is no sand on this small beach, just water-worn rocks. The hike back out is straightforward--one steep mile, followed by one easy mile, with plenty of shade along the way.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
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