Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Idaho

At a Glance

Name: Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
Length: 71.8 Miles
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing
Counties: Benewah, Kootenai, Shoshone
Surfaces: Asphalt
State: Idaho

About this Itinerary

Looking for a great Western history adventure? The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is one of the West’s gems, traversing nearly the breadth of Idaho’s Panhandle along 72 entirely paved, wheelchair accessible miles through scenic mountains and valleys. The area has a rich mining, railroading and Native American history, and includes plenty of quirky sites, historical attractions and outdoor adventure for a multi-day exploration.

Fly into Spokane, Washington, and drive about 86 miles to Wallace, Idaho (Missoula, Montana, airport is 113 miles). History buffs will agree that Wallace has the most concentrated historical attractions in the area. Stay at the Wallace Inn, which offers optional services to pick you up at the airport in Spokane. They’ll also customize a trail biking trip.

Our proposed itinerary includes three trips: two full-day rides plus a short morning ride with time to explore Wallace’s historical attractions. You can either ride out and back—for a much longer bike journey—or arrange a one-way shuttle with the Inn.

Important: Bring water because 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.

Day 1

Rent bikes in Kellogg, 11 miles west of Wallace, at Excelsior Cycle (21 Railroad Ave), where you can select from a full line of bikes. Call to reserve yours (208-786-3751). Start your day with a hearty breakfast at the Inn’s full-service restaurant before heading west along the trail to Medimont, on the north shore of Cave Lake (about 49 miles one way).

On the return trip, you can ride all the way back to Wallace (daily total 100 miles); arrange a shuttle to pick you up at Medimont (daily total 49 miles); or ride back toward Wallace and hop on the Silver Express Bus in Kingston (daily total 71 miles; bus is Mon–Fri only; see schedule for times and pick-up places). Or the Wallace Inn shuttle can pick you up from another trailhead.

The trail is rooted in the homeland of the native Coeur d’Alene Peoples and began as a path traveled by their early ancestors as they hunted and gathered food. When European settlers discovered silver and lead ore in the 1880s, the route evolved into a rail line, which operated until 1992.

Ride through Idaho’s Silver Valley, stopping for lunch in Cataldo at the Mission Inn for traditional American cuisine, seafood platters and steaks. After lunch, take a side trip to Old Mission State Park (requires about 3.5 miles of road riding one way). The park features the oldest building in Idaho, constructed in the 1850s, and a small visitor center.

The rest of your journey follows the Coeur d’Alene River through a lake-studded valley below forested mountains.

Day 2

Arrange for the Inn’s shuttle to take you Medimont, then ride the 27 miles (one way) to trail’s end in Plummer. Absorb the beautiful scenery of this chain-of-lakes region, linked by the Coeur d’Alene River. Watch for wildlife, including coyotes, otters, beavers, birds of prey, moose and maybe even a shy black bear!

At its west end the trail hugs the southern shoreline of spectacular Lake Coeur d’Alene. Cross the lake over Chatcolet Bridge, once a swing trestle that revolved to accommodate both trains and allow passage for boats navigating the St. Joe River.

Turn around at trail’s end in Plummer then return to Harrison (16 miles) for lunch at One Shot Charlie’s Tavern and Café. Follow your lunch with a tasting of local wines at Sheppard Fruit Wines. The shuttle can pick you up in Harrison then drop you off in Kellogg, where you take a guided tour of the old Crystal Gold Mine. Colorful stalactite crystals of smithonite coat the walls.

1313 Club Saloon & Restaurant

Ride 11 miles back to Wallace. Tonight, check out the 1313 Club, a historical saloon and grill, serving wraps, burgers, steaks and a selection of microbrews.

Day 3

You can’t travel to the Northwest without having huckleberry pancakes for breakfast. Ride your bike to the Red Light Garage before heading out on the trail today and order a stack. On show at the funky restaurant is a Korean weather satellite that plunged to Earth nearby.

Take a short ride to trail’s end in Mullan, heading east. You’ll know when you reach the end (2nd and River Streets): here the trail surface turns to gravel and continues east as the Nor Pac Trail. Return to Wallace (14.5 miles round trip) and explore the town’s many historical sites.

Housed in a restored depot, the Northern Pacific Railroad Museum features exhibits on the railroad companies that operated in the region. The Wallace District Mining Museum captures Northern Idaho’s mining industry, from the early gold rush to later silver production. And what mining town is complete without a bordello? Tour the upper rooms of Oasis Bordello, which allegedly operated until 1988!

6th Street Theatre

To cap off your Western history adventure, see a show at the 6th Street Theatre, featuring old-time melodrama.

Looking for more adventure? Try out kayaking, boating and fishing excursions in Harrison, offered by Harrison Idaho Water Adventures. Or, from Kellogg explore mountain biking and hiking adventures in the Silver Mountain Recreation Area. For more rail-trail experiences, don’t miss the nearby—and spectacular—Route of the Hiawatha!

Attractions and Amenities

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