From majestic mountains to idyllic lakeside landscapes, Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes has it all
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes offers 73.2 miles of paved trail through nearly every kind of landscape Idaho has to offer pedestrians, on-leash dog walkers, bicycle riders, and even inline skaters. Depending on your point of origin, you can experience Idaho’s beauty in a single day, or as part of a larger itinerary.
Beginning at the southwest trailhead near Plummer, for example, experience windswept prairie, big sky and tall grasses. Head east on mostly flat trail before descending quickly into the forest where dense evergreens and abundant wildflowers feel like another land, but you’re still in Idaho!
Next is Heyburn State Park, then you’re up and over Chatcolet Lake via a former railroad bridge, a legacy of the region’s industrial past. Look down along the shoreline to spy turtles sunning themselves on logs, egrets wading in the reeds, or maybe a moose feeding on succulent greens.
Spend a little time in Harrison, originally a settlement for the Schitsu’umsh, or Coeur d’Alene Tribe, that evolved into a Western frontier town. Stretch your legs with a self-guided historic walking tour (harrisonidaho.org) and fuel up at any number of cozy eateries — Idaho restaurants are open!
If you ride the whole 73.2 miles, you’ll spend nearly half that distance in the Chain Lake area outside of Harrison for more wetlands and wildlife-watching: otter, osprey, eagles, deer, heron, countless songbirds and more.
Ride along Coeur d’Alene River, and past the historic Cataldo Mission, the oldest building in Idaho and home of the engaging Sacred Encounters exhibit (see parksandrecreation.idaho.gov for more info, including park entrance fee).
Continuing east into the Silver Valley, rich in mining history, the landscape shifts. Your ascent into the mountains is gradual at first, as you pass through Pinehurst, Smelterville, Kellogg, Osburn and Wallace, where you might want to stop and look around or grab a bite to eat.
It’s a bit of a climb into Mullan, the last stop on the trail, where you might decide to hang around a bit, overnight it, or double back to your starting point.
Parks and Recreation Park Manager Kathleen Durfee personally likes the Pine Creek to Medimont area and the chain lakes, yet the whole trail has something to enjoy, she says. “A lot of people have their favorite trailhead,” says Durfee, noting there are 20 different options along the route, including restrooms and picnic facilities.
Although Idaho’s restrictions for out-of-state visitors have loosened, Durfee wants to remind everyone to continue to practice social distancing and good trail etiquette.
The trail is 10 feet wide, yet if your party is spread out, that makes it difficult to get around you. Be aware of your surroundings and others, Durfee says.
“Pass on the left,” she says, and it’s OK to call out as you do, reminding others that you’re behind them and passing them.
“We want everybody out there to enjoy the trail,” she says.
The Route of the Hiawatha
This crown-jewel of rail to trail adventures opened May 22 for the season. It features 10 train tunnels and seven sky-high trestles. Trail passes, shuttle tickets and mountain bike rentals are now all available.
Silver Mountain’s epic bike park, offering nearly 40 single track trails, opened for the season on May 23. Bring your own bike, or rent one at the mountain. Scenic gondola rides are also open, and hikers can access an interpretive nature trail and the Kellogg Peak Fire Lookout at the top. Idaho’s largest indoor waterpark, Silver Rapids, has also reopened for all lodging guests to use.
Silverwood Theme Park
The Northwest’s largest theme park is set to open for the season May 30-31, with revised policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of all Silverwood guests and employees. Then starting June 6, Silverwood and Boulder Beach will be open daily. To read more about the proactive steps Silverwood is taking to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, visit silverwoodthemepark.com/coronavirus-update/