Explore all six of the trails of the Coeur d’Alenes
Labor Day ushers in moderate temps and clear skies. Deciduous trees flare with color. Our bike trails are more easily traversed. And our unique eateries are over the summer rush. These are a few reasons why it’s a great time to bike and play in the Idaho Panhandle’s Silver Valley.
The varied trails of the Coeur d’Alenes—the Hiawatha, Nor-Pac (Northern Pacific), Milwaukee Road, Olympian, Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, and the Centennial—remain open and ready for your fall visit with fall colors and local history along the way.
The incredible, downhill Route of the Hiawatha rail trail with its 10 tunnels and seven trestles takes riders from Interstate 90 smack dab into the Idaho backcountry via the St. Paul Pass tunnel (Taft Tunnel). Coursing through the Bitterroot Mountains, the “hardly have to pedal,” user-friendly path drops 1,000 vertical feet over its 15-mile length. Take the leisurely one-way downhill cycle and then a timely, on-the-trail shuttle back to the top. Or, make it an even bigger day with a round-trip pedal. The last day of the season is September 17 so don’t delay. Contact Lookout Pass for trail and shuttle passes and rental gear.
The Northern Pacific Trail (Nor-Pac) rail trail connects the Hiawatha with the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes on its non-paved, multi-use track over Lookout Pass. The Nor-Pac runs 21 miles from Taft, Mont., to Mullan, Idaho, offering more recreational seclusion and fun. Along its route, the trail passes left-behind railroad structures. Take the easy detour around the closed Borax tunnel.
Rail-trail extensions of the Hiawatha through the East Portal (Olympian) east to St. Regis, Mont., and from Pearson (Milwaukee Road) west all the way to St. Maries, Idaho, via Avery offer more miles of backcountry biking. Uncrowded trails, primitive USFS and private campsites, and other varied lodging venues exist where deer and elk outnumber people. The Milwaukee Road is part of the Bitterroot 300 (B300), a 185-mile route that includes the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, Nor-Pac, and Hiawatha trails as well as other connectors for an unparalleled loop ride. To make the most of your B300 ride, start in historic Wallace, going clockwise to get the primary climb over Lookout Pass out of the way. Also, be sure to acquire a shuttle from St. Maries to Heyburn State Park (Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes) to avoid a precarious pedal on Idaho State Rt. 5.
The 73-mile paved, non-motorized Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, part of the Great American Rail Trail system, crosses the Idaho Panhandle with multiple trailheads, allowing cyclists, rollerbladers and trekkers to enjoy untamed flora and fauna and small-town charm in Wallace, Harrison, Kellogg, Mullan, and Cataldo. History of our storied mining heritage—inclusive of mining wars, union uprisings, fortunes gained and lost, the Buffalo Soldiers, and the Big Burn (aka the 1910 Fire)—abounds along the trail.
Further west, the paved Centennial Trail explores Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene along its 23-mile length. Along the east end of the trail from Higgins Point, ride this recreational delight with super lake views and many historical markers, benches, and restrooms. Heading west into Coeur d’Alene, Tubbs Hill and City Park are gateways to the city’s eateries, breweries, shopping, carousel, museums, and more. Farther west the trail follows along the Spokane River into the Riverstone complex with more urban amenities before continuing on to Post Falls and the state-line junction with the Spokane River Centennial Trail.
Our North Idaho trails offer great opportunity for families, individuals and friends to experience a short visit on foot or bicycle or a multi-day cycling excursion. Take time to explore the local lodging, eateries, watering holes, and historic and cultural attractions. For fall trip ideas, inquiries, or free trail maps, contact Prime Minister Rick at Friendsofthecdatrails.org.
(Provided by Wallace, Idaho’s official Prime Minister and local trail advocate Rick Schafer.)