News Archive

2018 Trail Update

On a decent day, about a couple hundred people use the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. They jog, walk their dogs, stroll with children, take photos by the old Humbird Mill ruins, or power walk purposefully out and back from the Sandpoint trailhead.

Since 2011, when the City of Sandpoint authorized the purchase of the first waterfront parcel from the Hall Family, the 1.5-mile trail has been open to the public. The shoreline trail has become a favorite get-away for residents, workers downtown and even out-of-town visitors.

The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail hosts an annual Bay Trail Fun Run to raise money for maintenance and improvements along the trail, and a growing nest egg to finance future trail improvements. Proposed improvements are outlined in the Master Trail and Interpretive Plan, and include projects such as increasing trailhead parking and installing steps in the rip rapped banks to make it easier and safer to access the water.

One top priority is to connect the trail to Ponderay and Kootenai with a railroad underpass in Ponderay. It’s an ambitious and expensive project, but necessary due to the high incidence of trespass across railroad property by people who are trying to get to Lake Pend Oreille.

The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail has been working with the city and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to gather information necessary to apply for federal funding, including engineering studies, cost-benefit analyses and environmental documents.  

Recently, with funding from the LOR Foundation, the Friends hired Panhandle Area Council, an economic development organization serving the communities of North Idaho, to assist with the federal grant process. The ideal funding source is the federal highway’s TIGER program, but the future of the grant program is uncertain under the Trump Administration.

In preparation for a future underpass, the City of Ponderay purchased property along U.S. Highway 200, near the Hoot Owl Restaurant. The city and the Friends hosted a community celebration at the property last fall, to help build a sense of community and to raise awareness about the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and other community projects in Ponderay.

Ponderay Neighbor Day was generously supported by the LOR Foundation, the SPOT Bus, P1FCU, Schweitzer, Kaniksu Land Trust, Kootenai-Ponderay Sewer District, Keokee Publishing, Montana Shed Center, Cygnus, Northwest Autobody, Sandpoint Furniture/Carpet One, Waste Management, Ace Septic Tank Service, Columbia Bank, Idaho Forest Group, Pend Oreille Veterinary Clinic and many other businesses and individuals.

An estimated 500 people attended the family-friendly event, and the Ponderay City Council plans to host a second Ponderay Neighbor Day – with the help of the Friends and local businesses – this fall.

Other upcoming events that support the Pend d’Oreille Bay trail include an Earth Day Work Party on April 29 and the annual Bay Trail Fun Run – a 5K and 10K timed run/walk – on June 10. Check the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Facebook Page, or check back here on our website at for more information.

Ponderay Neighbor Day featured lots of kids activities and even a celebrity or two.

Ponderay Neighbor Day featured lots of kids activities.


TIGER Grant Program – and Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail – At Risk

For the last two years, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and the City of Ponderay have been preparing to apply for a federal TIGER grant to help fund a much-needed underpass for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. Without an underpass under the railroad tracks, citizens of Ponderay and Kootenai have no access from their communities to the lakeshore and the trail. As a result, people typically trespass across the busy Montana Rail Link/ BNSF tracks to get to the lake from Ponderay or Kootenai.

Railroad underpasses are extremely expensive, and a federal grant is one of the only ways that Ponderay can afford to build one. The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and Idaho DEQ have spent thousands of dollars on studies to help support this grant application, while the city of Ponderay has purchased property in the vicinity of the proposed underpass. We are nearly ready to apply.

However, the Trump Administration’s recent budget proposal calls for eliminating the popular TIGER grant program, essentially killing our project if Trump’s budget is adopted.

Please help us convince Congress to continue to fund TIGER.


The very popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grant program has funded more than 420 multi-modal infrastructure projects across the country – including all 50 states, both in rural and urban areas since 2009. The program spent more than $5 billion and leveraged billions of dollars to accelerate key projects that drive local, regional and state economic development. These projects aren’t eligible for funding under traditional federal highway or state funding programs.

The Trump administration has suggested that local communities turn to other programs to fund their projects, but those programs are not designed to meet the same needs as TIGER, which funds multi-modal projects, including trails. Projects that have been funded through the rural TIGER program in our region include a $10 million grant to Kalispell, MT, to relocate railroad tracks from downtown and replace them with a linear park and trail. In 2013, Missoula County landed a $4.5 million TIGER grant to build the Missoula to Lolo bike path. In Idaho, TIGER has funded complete streets in American Falls and Hailey, a transit center in Moscow and U.S. Highway 95 improvements.


The budget proposal now goes to Congress and so we can still save TIGER.

Comment onlineTell Congress to fund TIGER.

Write a letter to our Congressional Delegation. If you only want to send one letter, send it to Sens. Jim Risch or Mike Crapo. Here are their addresses:

  • Mike Crapo – 610 Hubbard St., Ste. 209 Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814
  • Jim Risch – 610 Hubbard St., Ste. 213, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
  • Raul Labrador – 1250 Ironwood Dr., #241, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814

Or you can send an email  by going to the Senator’s website or using the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s online Take Action. 


Here are a few points to consider including in your letter/email:

  • First and foremost, ask them to fund TIGER. TIGER is an important transportation infrastructure funding source for local communities;
  • TIGER is very competitive with each project competing on its merits. As a result, the monies are spent very efficiently;
  • TIGER encourages local investment and has brought 3.5 other dollars to the table for every federal dollar awarded;
  • TIGER supports locally driven economic development opportunities. This is the kind of infrastructure program that improves the local economy and is sustainable over time;
  • There are virtually no other federal funding programs to fill the void for TIGER;
  • The TIGER program has provisions for rural areas, so communities in Idaho don’t have to compete with large urban areas for funding, but with other rural areas;
  • Mention the projects in Idaho that have been funded through TIGER;
  • Talk about the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and the need for an underpass to allow safe access to Lake Pend Oreille. Eliminating TIGER will likely put a halt to plans to one day provide access from Ponderay and Kootenai to the lake and the trail.

Master Trail Plan Finalized

After about a year of working with hired consultants, the Master Trail Plan for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail has been finalized.

Check it out here!

This plan will help guide future improvements to the trail that could include interpretive kiosks that would help tell the cultural, historic and ecological stories about the trail, as well new amenities on the trail, signage and expansions to the trail. These plans also help determine the costs for any improvements and help raise funds for those improvements. Thanks to consultants Jen Zung and Randy Blough at Harmony Engineering and Design for all their hard work and thanks to all the individuals that gave their input.


Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Update, Winter/Spring 2015

Now that Phase 1 (the purchase of the Hall waterfront property) is complete, people keep asking us – what’s next? Does this mean the gate is coming down at the end of the trail?
The answer to the second question is, not yet.

The Hall family property stopped short of the gate. Beyond the gate is private property and Black Rock, which is also private and heavily contaminated with heavy metals. The fact that the property beyond the gate is private, and that Black Rock is officially a Brownfield site that needs remediation, means that trail users need to turn around at the gate.

But here’s a few things that are happening now to help determine the future of the trail:

  • Master Trail and Interpretive Plan: We were fortunate to secure funding to hire a consultant to put together a Master Trail Plan and an Interpretive Plan for the trail. These plans will help guide any future improvements to the trail, including signage, amenities and how to tell our natural and cultural history stories along this linear outdoor classroom. The plans will also help raise funds for those improvements. The planning began in the fall of 2014, and this spring we’ll see the initial proposed designs and plans from Harmony Engineering and Design and interpretive planner, Jane Rohling. Our Ales and Trails event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at Laughing Dog Brewery, will give folks an opportunity to weigh in on the designs for the trail.
  • Brownfields cleanup: The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is working with the city of Ponderay and the Black Rock property owner to enroll contaminated properties in the state’s voluntary cleanup program. Once the properties are enrolled in the program, cleanup alternatives will be determined and funding secured to remove the contaminated materials from the site, or to safely contain those materials in an onsite repository.ponderay greenway and pathway plan
  • Lakeside Neighborhood Plan: The city of Ponderay secured funds to hire StreetPlans, a consulting firm, to come up with a “subarea” plan for the lakeshore and upland neighborhood in the vicinity of a possible underpass, or crossings, that would allow access from Ponderay to the lake and the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. The plans are conceptual in nature, but will guide a specific zoning code that allows for a certain type of development in that area. City Planner Erik Brubaker is trying to develop a plan that would allow for a gradual, organic development to occur, with multiple property owners, over time that would blend with the city’s existing neighborhoods.
  • Underpass planning: We are working with the City of Ponderay, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Trust for Public Land and URS/AECOM, an international engineering firm, to get a technical feasibility study conducted for two potential underpass/overpass locations for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. It is our hope that this feasibility study will help secure the support of the railroad and future funding for an underpass.

So, as you can see, while it may seem to be a quiet time for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, much is happening to eventually connect this trail to Ponderay and to enhance the experience of users of the trail. We will continue to need the financial support of the community to keep these efforts moving forward.

Our primary fundraiser is the annual Bay Trail Fun Run which takes place on June 7 this year.

Please consider either participating as a sponsor, a runner or a volunteer!

You can also give your input by completing this quick and easy survey! It’s actually very interesting with lots of wonderful archival photos and new design illustrations. Give us a hand and complete the survey before May 1!

Community Celebrates Trail’s Creation

Local elected officials and supporters marked the official opening of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail with a dedication ceremony. The afternoon events included short speeches by elected officials, the unveiling of the “Cairn of Thanks” (a stacked rock monument honoring supporters of the trail) and a toast to the trail. The City of Ponderay’s final land purchase in the trail corridor brought the first phase of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail project to a  successful close and gives the public access to 1.5 miles of waterfront trail. Read more…

Weigh-in on trails and open space in Bonner County

We know you are a Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail supporter. Now tell us what you think about trails, parks and open space in all of Bonner County by completing this survey.

Your feedback will support collaborative efforts by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), Idaho Conservation League and county and city entities to identify promising trail connections and fill gaps in our existing trail system and to expand our network of trails across Bonner County.

Additionally a Greenprint will be created that will identify community priorities for protecting important landscapes in and around Sandpoint and surrounding towns. The Greenprint will also guide efforts for protecting important land and water resources.

So, please fill out the survey today and we’ll help keep you posted on the results in the future!

Ponderay Buys Waterfront for Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail

SANDPOINT – A three-year campaign to raise funds to purchase nearly a mile of waterfront along the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail culminated this week with the second purchase of shoreline property by the City of Ponderay.
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, which raised $400,000 to help with the property purchases, applauded the cities of both Ponderay and Sandpoint for investing in what’s becoming a favorite lakefront destination for residents and visitors alike.
“We are gratified by the way our community stepped up to make this shoreline trail something the public as a whole can enjoy for all time,” said Larry Davidson, president of the non-profit Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.
While the shoreline trail can now only be accessed through a trailhead in Sandpoint, north of City Beach, the city officials in Ponderay dream of one day connecting the trail to their community with a safe railroad crossing.
“For Ponderay and Kootenai families, proximity to the lake has long been clouded by the lack of access,” said Erik Brubaker, Planning, Parks and Development Director for the City of Ponderay. “Completing the connection to the lake, having now extended that access along the lakeshore, would add value to our great neighborhoods and helps protect our outdoor-loving, small-town traditions.”
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay is a non-profit organization working with the cities of Ponderay, Sandpoint and Kootenai to create a non-motorized shoreline trail that will connect these communities and provide safe, public access to Lake Pend Oreille.
In order to permanently protect the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, the cities and the Friends agreed to collectively purchase the waterfront corridor from the Hall family over a period of four years. According to the agreement, the City of Sandpoint purchased the first two parcels in 2011 and 2012, the City of Ponderay purchased the third and fourth parcels in 2013 and 2014, with the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail raising sufficient funds for the fourth parcel.
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail conducted a campaign to raise $400,000 to complete the purchase of the final parcel by this week’s deadline. The group raised the money over two years from private foundations, individuals and fundraising events.
The vision for the trail began many years ago with Ross and Hazel Hall, who owned the property and saw the potential for a public pathway along the trail corridor, known to many locals as “bum jungle.” North Idaho Bikeways president Bob Carlson was the first to promote the trail and put it on a planning map for the region. Carlson also served on the original bay trail planning committee launched by the City of Sandpoint nearly 10 years ago.
“This trail has always been the highest priority for Sandpoint trails,” Carlson said. “But Ponderay’s concerns over drawing kids across the tracks and private ownership by the Hall family and the railroad put that off until five years ago.”
“An almost impossible set of obstacles has finally been overcome to bring this linear beach park into the public domain,” he said.
The Friends are planning a formal dedication next month, followed by a party at the Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint on Nov. 13.

Porta-potty at the trail!

The porta-potty has arrived! Thanks to Bob Carlson for making the arrangements. The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail are paying for the monthly fee. If you’d like to contribute to help with maintaining the porta-potty and also purchasing mutt mitts and garbage bags, please make a donation!

Be parking-aware at the trailhead, please!

noparkingOur friends at the Seasons at Sandpoint, just adjacent to the bay trail trailhead, have given a reminder that parking in front of the furthest north building at Seasons – the one with only the foundation – is not allowed. There are signs that say No Parking/Tow Away Zone and vehicles will be towed. The street in front of that building is also painted red at the edge of the road to bring even more attention to the no parking zone.

“We just want to avoid as much potential consternation and inconvenience as possible for visitors to the beautiful trail in case a vehicle is towed that is parked in this no parking zone,” said Scott Olpin of Seasons.

Trail users, if the trailhead parking is full, please park at City Beach or other public parking. We want to be good neighbors; thank you!

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