Local news

Gem of a trail has its own appeal

MONDAY, JULY 7, 2008

Dedicated just four years ago, the 72-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes has become a North Idaho icon. This ribbon of parkway is a prize that’s getting the Silver Valley attention around the world.

The paved trail, closed to motorized vehicles, follows the old Union Pacific railway from Plummer to Mullan. More importantly, it follows the wildlife-rich Coeur d’Alene River and its associated lakes almost all the way.

With 18 trailheads, hikers, bikers and inline skaters can customize their distance from a jaunt to a marathon.

About 18 miles of the trail, from Bull Run Lake to Harrison, has been closed for flood repairs. Work on the eight miles from Bull Run to Medimont may be complete this week, but a big washout between Medimont and Harrison may not be fixed until the end of July.

No problem. Although I’ve pedaled every mile of this trail, two of my favorite biking stretches are in great shape.

Enaville to Bull Run – About 12 miles, flat, mostly along the flowing portion of the river. Riders who start in Enaville and bring a fishing rod and license may find tempting reasons to spend all day on this stretch.

Plummer to Harrison – This 15-mile stretch includes some of the trail’s standout features. From the trail terminus at Plummer, the trip heads downhill 5.5 miles on the only significant grade (1 to 2 percent) on the entire trail.

The route passes through Heyburn State Park and over the whoop-dee-do ripples via the historic Chatcolet swing bridge. Then the route chills with six flat miles along Lake Coeur d’Alene toward ice cream and sandwich shops, a lake swimming area and grassy park at Harrison. Leave a shuttle car here or head back for a satisfying 30-mile round trip.

Riders with small bladders note: This western 15 miles of trail has easy access to seven restrooms, while only eight easy-access potties are found along the remaining 57 miles of trail.

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