On The Road Again: Inland NW Early-Season Cycling Routes

Whether your winter has been spent on the snow or a stationary trainer, in a yoga studio or gym, maybe even on the couch, the arrival of spring just might spark your inner-cyclist. But roadsides strewn with winter’s debris might dampen that spark, leading you to wonder if the open road is ready for you. Fortunately for cyclists in the Inland Northwest, most multi-use trails are relatively free of debris and waiting on you and yours. Once you are ready to ride (see sidebar), here are some options for getting on the road.

Spokane Area Rides

The Fish Lake Trail (FLT) is close to downtown Spokane with trailhead parking near the intersection of Sunset Highway and Government Way. The FLT has an imperceptible uphill grade along its nine miles, flanked by basalt outcroppings, farmland, and stands of ponderosa before ending near Queen Lucas Lake. The ride back is primarily downhill, so you’ll go and feel faster.

Washington’s Centennial Trail is largely flat from the top of Doomsday Hill to the stateline. Riding to Mission Park through Kendall Yards, Riverfront Park, and the Gonzaga campus provides an urban experience with opportunities for refreshments. From Mission Park to the stateline, the trail follows the river. To avoid traffic, use the trailheads near the Valley YMCA, Plante Ferry Park, or the stateline.

Riverside State Park offers a 15-mile loop between Seven Mile and T.J. Meenach Bridge. On the north side of the river, much of the route is through Riverside State Park with light traffic. The only city road is from T.J. Meenach to the Aubrey L.White Parkway entrance. The south side of the river is all gently undulating Centennial Trail. Riding clockwise avoids the one steep climb. Discovery Pass required if parking in the park..

North Idaho Rides

Riverstone Park in Coeur d’Alene offers opportunities for pre-and-post ride refreshments when riding Idaho’s Centennial Trail. Twelve miles east is the Spokane River at the stateline. The trail parallels the interstate to Post Falls, with potentially confusing twists and turns from Post Falls west. Less confusing and more inviting is the route west to the North Idaho College campus and then downtown to Higgins Point, about one hill and six miles east. Much of the ride is through neighborhoods and along scenic East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive.

Sandpoint is home to the Dover and Serenity Lee trails and the Sandpoint Byway. The byway trail begins near City Beach and follows Sand Creek north to Ponderay. Serenity Lee Trail starts near Long Bridge, crossing the lake toward Sagle, just over five miles south. The trail to Dover is about three miles, ending just outside Dover city limits. The Dover Bay development provides riding through meadows and lightly forested tracts with river views. The best food and drink are in Sandpoint.

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes offers incredible scenery. Avoid starting in either Plummer or Mullan to avoid sustained climbs (six miles from Heyburn to Plummer or eight miles from Wallace to Mullan). Crossing the confluence of Lake Chatcolet and Lake Coeur d’Alene provides expansive views of both lakes. Between Harrison and Wallace, trailheads are about every five miles. Food and drink is readily available at Harrison (mile 15), Rose Lake (about a mile off the trail at mile 34), Enaville (mile 47), Kellogg (mile 54), and Wallace (mile 65). //

Bradley last wrote about Zwift and indoor cycling for the January/February OutThere. When not teaching English classes at Spokane Falls, he’s spending time with family and doing what he can to prepare for the coming cycling season.


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