A few decades back, Bruce Shadduck could climb the foothills of Canfield Mountain and stare out across a scattering of small farms, patches of forest and the huge green carpet of the Rathdrum Prairie.
On Saturday, the retired teacher climbed the same slope and saw acres and acres of beige houses, winding ribbons of fresh asphalt and emerald green patches of fertilized lawn. But the land where he stood remained largely the same as when it was owned by his grandfather.
Now, the 25-acre forested parcel is owned by the city of Coeur d’Alene and will be protected as a natural hiking area. New homes cover the cow pastures and forest once owned by Shadduck’s family, but the forested slope will remain the same.
“We’re really glad this is preserved now,” he said.
Shadduck was one of about 35 people who hiked the parcel Saturday morning, testing out a proposed network of walking and mountain biking trails. The land was originally platted for development but was eventually given to the city. The city is now trying to acquire an adjoining 53-acre parcel, which would help connect the lands with a 32-mile network of trails on neighboring national forest, said Monte McCully, the city’s trail coordinator.
A local group, the Canfield Mountain Alliance, has been working to keep the west-facing slopes of Canfield covered by trees, not homes. Residents and hikers say the city stands to lose irreplaceable scenery, not to mention nearby places to recreate. Despite the abundance of public land in Kootenai County, there are few places close to town developed for hiking or mountain biking, said Lynn Smith, of Hayden. Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles are allowed on most existing U.S. Forest Service trails on Canfield, he said, adding that these machines can turn a quiet walk into the woods into a noisy, dusty experience.
“We’ve got this crying need for family walking trails here,” Smith said. “I’d like to have a place like this where I can take my grandkids.”
The proposed walking loop snakes up the hillside, passing through a ponderosa pine forest and winding around towering rock outcrops. Near the top are several open areas that allow views stretching to Stateline.
“This is an incredible resource,” said John Schwandt, a local resident and professional forester.
Lagging behind the group of walkers Saturday were local Boy Scouts, who pounded wooden stakes to mark the route. In coming weeks, brush will be cleared and trailwork will begin.
Much of the trail building work will be done by volunteers, including Brett Papineau, with Boy Scout Troop 3, who is working on the trail network as part of a service project required to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Although hiking is currently allowed on the steep parcel, which is located by following signs at the east end of Shadduck Lane, there are no developed trails yet. City Parks Director Doug Eastwood said trail work will begin soon. “We just need to make it easy for people to enjoy,” he said.
Kiantha Shadduck said her grandfather, Marvin, who died in May at the age of 93, would be pleased to see so many people being able to enjoy the land. “He would be so happy it’s turning into trails and not houses,” she said.