Prescription Parks Pilot

people on benches watching a sunset over a lake

There is a growing consensus that when we increase our physical activity in parks and green spaces, we experience an escalation in health benefits while our communities experience an increase in social and economic growth.

THE CHALLENGE: Recent statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer now effect 72 million adults in the United States. Though there are numerous factors contributing to the soaring disease rate, the CDC concludes that our sedentary life style is playing a significant part.

PRESCRIPTION PARKS: Prescription Parks is a movement aiming to strengthen the connection between the healthcare system and the outdoor park and trail systems in local communities.

Studies from the Institute at the Golden Gate support that a prescription for physical activity in the outdoors and/or indoors can “help prevent or treat health problems caused by inactivity and poor diet.”  Additionally the Institute found that Prescription Parks’ patients discovered fun ways to be healthy using their local parks and trails which in return promoted stewardship.

TAKE ACTION! Kaniksu Land Trust has learned from other Prescription Parks pilots from around the country and is ready to launch a Prescription Park pilot here in our own region. Collaborating with 7 practitioners from a variety of medical fields and 70 participants, we are set to discover just how a program like this can benefit our growing community.

Beginning September 1, 2015, the Prescription Parks pilot will begin with our dedicated practitioners giving out park prescriptions to their selected pilot participants.  This 4 month Prescription Parks pilot is designed to encourage an increase in activity through either 30+ minute walks, 10,000 steps, or use of a public facility where movement is available.

This pilot will also study:

1) Overall health benefit

2) Administrative impact

3) Prescription follow-through

4) How local parks and trails can support all levels of prescriptions

If you are a practitioner interested in taking part in our Prescription Parks pilot, please call the Kaniksu Land Trust office (208) 263-9471 or email

Click here for level explanations and park locations


DOVER CITY PARK – LEVEL 1 – Comprised of 3,300 feet of public use waterfront, the park is located west of the marina and City Hall, on a sandy stretch of land next to Brown’s Bay Inlet. Along with the swimming beach, the park offers picnic tables, BBQ areas, playground equipment, public restrooms, native plant gardens with interpretative signs, and plenty of grassy areas for your enjoyment.

The park is open every day of the year, beginning one-half hour before sunrise and closing a half-hour after sunset. During the winter months, the trails will not be maintained and the public restrooms are closed. The parking lot adjacent to the park will be ploughed.

Dogs must be on a leash when in the area and no alcoholic beverages are allowed on any City property and/or park areas.


SANDCREEK PATH – LEVEL 1 & 2 – Sand Creek Path is a paved easy access walk. There is free two-hour parking directly across from the start of the path or free parking at City Beach. Map

TRAVERS PARK – LEVEL 2 – Travers Park, located on Pine Street, boasts 24.5 acres and has a wide variety of amenities, including 3 full-size softball diamonds, a medium size baseball diamond, soccer fields, football fields, and 4 tennis courts. The children play area includes a slide, swing sets, and youth climbing apparatus. Map

SANDPOINT-DOVER COMMUNITY TRAIL – LEVEL 2 – Dover-Sandpoint Community Trail connects the communities of Dover and Sandpoint along a 3.3-mile, paved, flat rail trail, providing outdoor access year-round.

Paralleling U.S. Hwy 2, the trail extends approximately three-quarters of a mile from Dover, where it connects with the Sandpoint trail at Chuck’s Slough and Creed’s Crossing, a revamped railroad trestle bridge passing over the slough. Continue to the trail’s terminus at Larch and Boyer and connect with multiple routes around the area, or access other Sandpoint sites and routes from the trail. Map

PEND d’OREILLE BAY TRAIL – LEVEL 3 – This waterfront trail grants access to the Pend d’Oreille Bay, part of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Site. Along the route, there are opportunities to educate the public about the history of this particular region. Two historic sites, the Humbird Mill site and the Panhandle Smelting and Refining Company site provide visitors with the opportunity to gain a glimpse of the life of mill workers during the early 1900s when Ponderay was considered a “Company Town.” The trail also provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn about native plants and wildlife located in this unique landscape. Map

GOLD HILL TRAIL No. 3 – LEVEL 4 – The lower trailhead is on Bottle Bay Road, with parking and an outhouse. The trail ascends steeply up the north face of Gold Hill, switching back and forth through deep timber for the first mile and a half before leveling off and trending south and west through a basin full of birch, aspen, cedar and Douglas fir.

There’s a bench at the one-mile mark that provides a panorama of Kootenai and Oden bays and the Cabinet Mountains, west of Pack River. From there the track continues through forest another three miles to a wide-open vista on a rock point looking down the Pend Oreille River and northwest toward Sandpoint and the Selkirk Mountains. Continue on from there another quarter of a mile to a bench on the hillside, and just past that, to Contest Mountain Road No. 2642 and the upper trailhead.

Gold Hill has a relatively steady grade interspersed with easy-walking sections. A strong hiker can make it to the rocky point in just over an hour. Mountain bikers use this trail extensively and can access it from Road No. 2642, which is not necessarily an easy climb, but it’s easier than pumping up the single-track. The Gold Hill Trail is a good trail for kids who are ready for something a bit more adventurous, and because of its shady north-facing terrain, it’s great on a summer day. Map

SHERWOOD FOREST TRAILS – LEVEL 4 – Also known as “Syringa Trails” by the locals, Sherwood Forest offers year-round access to hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing throughout this 143-acre conservation easement. In addition to offering an exceptional outdoor recreation, this area is an important habitat for whitetail deer wintering, and glimpses of moose and elk are not uncommon.

The trails twist and turn, climb up and over, offer forested sections and spectacular views of the Pend Oreille River and beyond. If you look real carefully, you will find art treasures along the trails, donated by a local sculptor.

To access Sherwood Forest, travel west on Pine Street, 1.5 miles from the N. Division Street/Pine Street intersection. The dirt trailhead parking ahead is located directly in front of you, at the sharp right hand corner. Map

MICKINNICK TRAIL HEAD – LEVEL 5 – Mickinnick Trail is a 3.5 mile trail (one-way) that “switchbacks” through 160 acres of huge rock outcroppings, grassy meadows, and old growth timber. It is also graced with spectacular vistas of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, the Cabinet Mountains and the Pend Oreille River.  The top boasts an elevation of 4300′ for a total elevation gain of 2150′.

Directions: From Sandpoint point your car North on Boyer, turn Left on Baldy Mtn. Rd, turn Right on Great Northern, turn Left on Woodland Drive, cross the tracks, and the trail head is just up the road on your Left.

The parking lot and outhouse are a little more than three miles from town on Woodland Drive. From trailhead to trail’s end is four miles, and it is no pushover. A quarter-mile from the parking lot, it begins up and keeps climbing, rising more than 2,000 feet in its length; roughly 500 feet per mile of trail. That’s a workout, especially on a warm summer day. The east-facing aspect of the trail makes it more user-friendly in the afternoon.

The trail leads through open forest on a rocky hillside with big ponderosa pine, larch and Douglas fir trees and shady groves of cedar and white pine interspersed along rock benches where water gathers. There is a viewpoint with benches at the half-mile point, a good goal for folks with small kids or cardiovascular challenges. Beyond this, the trail dips briefly into a dark swale before beginning an unrelenting climb.

Halfway to the top is Cougar Rock, offering a tremendous view of the Purcell Trench, the lake and the Cabinets. From there, the trail trends along a magnificent rock bench full of big timber before beginning up through one shelf after another to the ridge with filtered views of the ridgetops at Schweitzer. Then, it trends southwest through deeper forest and a little swamp before ending on a rocky knob commanding a view of Sandpoint, the Long Bridge, the lake and a long arm of river stretching off toward Washington. Map