Gold Hill Trail parking could see expansion

Bonner County seeking funds from USFS Resource Advisory Committee

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Bonner County commissioners approved an application for funding through the U.S. Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee on Nov. 3, which would enable the Bonner County Parks and Waterways Department to expand parking at the Gold Hill trailhead on Bottle Bay Road in Sagle.

The parking lot at Gold Hill trailhead. Photo by Ben Olson.

The popular 5.6-mile trail is well used by locals and visitors alike due to its accessibility and close proximity to Sandpoint. However, limited parking at the trailhead presents traffic issues each summer.

“Gold Hill is just one of those examples, where the parking lot was made to hold maybe eight vehicles on a good day, whereas you could easily see double that on a weekend during the summer,” Bonner County Parks Director Nate Demmons told the Sandpoint Reader. “With no overflow parking at this busy trailhead, people who come to recreate and can’t get a spot in the parking lot decide to park their vehicle in the ditch alongside Bottle Bay Road.”

Demmons said this creates a safety hazard, disrupting traffic and increasing the likelihood of an accident in the area. He said that safety is a high priority for both USFS and Bonner County officials, making an overflow parking area a feasible solution to mitigate traffic congestion.

“This, in turn, would help the community by creating a safer recreational experience and help decrease local resident/visitor use conflicts,” he said.

According to grant submission documents, the county would utilize existing county right-of-way to create the new paved parking area. Demmons’ proposal would accomodate an additional eight vehicles near the Gold Hill trailhead, drawing on about $32,000 in RAC funds and a $4,000 in-kind match from Bonner County.

The deadline to apply for RAC grant money is Nov. 20 and decisions regarding accepted project proposals will be announced after. If accepted, construction on the Gold Hill overflow parking project would begin in fall 2021 and take about a week to complete.

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