By Regan Plumb
If you are a Sandpoint area dog walker, trail runner, woods walker, mountain biker or all of the above, you are likely acquainted with Sherwood Forest and Pine Street Woods. Both are home to fabulous trail networks, but are uniquely distinct.
Sherwood Forest, named for the original landowners and farmers, is privately owned and, since 2012, protected by a conservation agreement with Kaniksu Land Trust. This voluntary agreement ensures that the property remains in its current undeveloped state into the future while continuing to be privately owned.
However, unlike a city park or U.S. Forest Service lands, there is no requirement to permit public use of Sherwood Forest. Access to the 130-acre trail network is permitted out of the generosity of the owners and is contingent upon respectful use of the property.
Situated directly to the north, Pine Street Woods offers a complimentary trail venue. This 180-acre parcel, including the Manning Buffer, was purchased this year by KLT to serve as a community forest. The founding principles of this community project are to provide a public experience of unspoiled nature for conservation, education and recreation. In contrast to Sherwood Forest, Pine Street Woods comes with a mandate to permit public access.
Despite differences in ownership, the allowed uses on the two properties are similar. Sherwood Forest and Pine Street Woods both allow non-motorized recreational uses. Dogs are permitted, as long as they are under leash or voice control. Pet owners are requested to clean up after their animals. Hunting is strictly prohibited because of the high degree of year-round public use. The entire boundary of Sherwood Forest is marked by metal T-posts with orange-painted tops.
Leave-no-trace principles are strongly encouraged on both properties. Construction of rogue trails or leaving behind survey flagging, unofficial trail markers, pet waste or other debris creates an undue burden on the landowners — whether of Pine Street Woods or Sherwood Forest — and diminishes the next user’s experience. As neither property is a for-profit venue, maintenance and clean-up generally falls to volunteers.
Local biking club Pend Oreille Pedalers (POP) is heavily involved in the maintenance and upkeep of the trails at Sherwood Forest. This all-volunteer group has adopted the trail maintenance in partnership with the owner. Questions or concerns regarding trail conditions or downed trees should first be directed to POP (pendoreillepedalers.org).
Pine Street Woods, on the other hand, is owned by a nonprofit entity and managed via a committee of KLT staff, board members and volunteers. This is a donor-supported amenity. No fees are charged for access to Pine Street Woods, and its management, maintenance and improvement are dependent upon volunteers and continued donations to KLT for years to come (visit kaniksu.org or call 208-263-9471 for more info on volunteering or donating).
Access and terrain also varies between the two properties. Sherwood Forest is usually accessed via a narrow, single-track trail starting from the Greta’s Segway trailhead at the 90-degree corner on Pine Street. The Greta’s trail switch-backs uphill for roughly one mile to a trail kiosk at a junction near the high point of the property. From there, several diverging trails run toward Highway 200 some 500 feet below.
An alternative access point climbs from the highway near the Dover Bridge, but this trail is difficult to find and technical in nature. In general, the terrain on the Sherwood Forest property is most appropriate for expert users.
Pine Street Woods, on the other hand, is accessible to all ages and abilities. Entry is by a road located at 11915 West Pine St., just beyond the point where the pavement turns to gravel on West Pine. The 3/4-mile road winds up a steep hillside to a parking area. From here, an all-abilities trail leads to a large open meadow with distant mountain views. Multi-use trails of varying difficulty extend beyond the Meadow Loop.
Pine Street Woods was designed with the first-time user in mind, whether mountain biker, cross-country skier or budding nature hiker. Beginning this winter, the Sandpoint Nordic Club will groom repurposed road beds for all levels of cross-country skiers, while POP will groom single-track trails for fat bike riders and snowshoers.
The Pine Street Woods trails also opened up a new, easier entrance to its more technical neighbor, Sherwood Forest. A novice mountain biker or hiker could drive to the Pine Street Woods, meander across the meadow and drop into the steep, mountainous terrain of Sherwood Forest unprepared for the difficult terrain. KLT is developing signs to warn users of the change in landscape as they cross the fence and property line.
With 310 combined acres of natural, preserved land that invite public access, there is plenty for the beginner and advanced trail lovers to enjoy in the Forest or the Woods. Please continue to recreate on these properties with respect and courtesy. We are so lucky to have them.
Regan Plumb is conservation director at the Kaniksu Land Trust.
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