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 www.pobtrail.org 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.