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News >  Idaho

There’s solitude to be found on 13-mile loop


This photo shows Marie Creek Overlook a the 1-mile point. 
 (M.D. Kincaid/Handle Extra / The Spokesman-Review)
This photo shows Marie Creek Overlook a the 1-mile point. (M.D. Kincaid/Handle Extra / The Spokesman-Review)
M.D. Kincaid Correspondent

Whether by horseback or on foot, this little-known 13-mile trail loop offers a variety of terrain surrounded by rock cliffs, hills, wildlife and a heavily wooded forest of solitude.

Less than a half-hour drive from downtown Coeur d’Alene, the trail system is managed by the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and is open only to hikers and horseback riders.

After 14 years of planning and construction primarily by hand, this great trail was built through efforts of the Panhandle Back Country Horsemen, the Boy Scouts, Anchor House, the U.S Forest Service and many other dedicated volunteers.

Only open since 2002, it crosses Marie and Skitwish creeks and winds through the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains.

Access: From Northwest Boulevard and I-90, go east on I-90 east for approximately 10.3 miles to exit 22, then turn left (north) and go over I-90 to the stop sign. Turn right on the frontage road and go approximately one mile and turn left on Wolf Lodge Road. Travel approximately 3.5 miles on Wolf Lodge Road, then turn right on Marie Creek Road and go about 1.2 miles to a “Y” in the road. Go right and find the parking lot and trailhead within 200 yards.

Length: 13 miles, according to Dave O’Brien of the Forest Supervisor’s office in Coeur d’Alene. There are plenty of strategic places along the trail to turn around, for those not wanting to make the whole loop. The first mile presents a considerable elevation gain and a nice viewpoint.

Elevation: Begins at approximately 2,400 feet (mean sea level), with the highest spot on the trail approximately 3,200 feet.

Use: Light.

Trail condition: Mostly hard packed, with some muddy conditions in the spring.

Difficulty: Moderate, with fairly steep climbs, some slate rock and trail conditions changing with the weather.

Restrictions: Hikers and horseback riders only.

What to see: Great vistas of the forest, two creeks, big trees and wildlife.

Special features: The Panhandle Back Country Horsemen are holding a fun ride today on the trail. Visit their Web site, http://pbch.org, for more information.

Preparation: No trail guide is available at this time. Detailed topographical maps are available for purchase from the following vendors in Coeur d’Alene: Black Sheep Sporting Goods, The Yacht Club Sales and Service and North Idaho Blueprint.

Gear: Good hiking boots (or a good horse) are essential. Dress for changing conditions and carry drinking water and a first-aid kit.

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