Few long bicycle trails come any better than the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. The trail covers 72 entirely paved, wheelchair accessible miles through scenic mountains and valleys in Idaho's Panhandle. The area has a rich mining, railroading and Native American history, too, and there are plenty of places to stop to enjoy the scenery and visit local attractions. So take a few days and plan an outdoor adventure here, exploring the trail in segments. You won't regret it.
Between Harrison and Plummer the trail is just over 15 miles one way and skirts the shoreline of sparkling Lake Coeur d'Alene. Immerse yourself in this landscape of rolling foothills in the Palouse prairie. A few scattered confers dot the hills. Cross the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene over the Chatcolet Bridge. It has a stair-step ramp to ease the uphill climb and makes for an exhilarating ride downhill, rollercoaster-like.
At Heyburn State Park you can stop for a refreshing swim before carrying on to the western end point in Plummer.
Between Harrison and Medimont the trail passes through Idaho's chain-of-lakes region, linked by the Coeur d'Alene River. Watch for wildlife through here, including coyotes, otters, beavers, birds of prey, moose, and maybe even a black bear.
From Medimont east, the trail travels in Idaho's Silver Valley, once one of the most productive silver mining areas in the country. The Cataldo Mission State Park is nearby, and worth a visit, although you'll have a few miles of on-road riding off the trail to reach it.
From Cataldo the trail follows the Coeur d'Alene River through the Silver Valley. The mountains are more forested here as you head toward Kellogg, the largest town along the trail. There are plenty of places to eat here. Next along the way you'll reach historical Wallace, jam packed with restaurants and cool attractions. While you're here, cycle over to the intersection of 6th and Bank Streets and get your family picture taken at the Center of the Universe, your only opportunity on Earth.
You'll know when you reach the end of the trail in Mullen (2nd and River Streets): here the trail surface turns to gravel and continues east as the NorPac Trail. The NorPac Trail runs to Taft, situated only 2.5 miles from the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha, perhaps best known for the Taft Tunnel stretching more than 8,000 feet under the Bitterroot Mountains. The scenic trail was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame with the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in 2010.
Potable water is not available throughout much of the trail or at trailheads. Bike-friendly businesses along the way will happily refill your water bottles.
You can access the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from many places along its route. For more details visit Idaho Parks & Recreation.