Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, Idaho State Park, Northern Idaho
Length: 73 miles
Width: 10 ft.
Surface type: Asphalt
Typical grade: <1 % along lakeshore and lower river, 3 % on Plummer grade
Maximum grade: 8 % at the bridge over Lake Coeur d’Alene
Typical cross slope: <1 %
Maximum cross slope: <2%
Obstacles: The bridge may be an obstacle for anyone uncomfortable with heights or long sections of 8% grade.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a rail trail that almost crosses the Idaho panhandle. It runs on Plummer, Idaho, on the west end through the town of Harrison, to Mullen, high in the mountains along I-90. This report refers only to the western 48 miles from Plummer to Pine Creek trailhead near I-90.
Paved its entire length with asphalt, the generally low gradient trail passes through miles of remote scenery skirting Coeur d’Alene Lake, and paralleling the Coeur d’Alene River and adjacent wetlands and forests or miles. Sitings of moose and eagles are not uncommon.
The trail is managed by Idaho State Parks and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. There are vault restrooms with handrails and picnic tables spaced about every three miles in scenic locations. There are 20 trailheads with accessible parking, most with toilets. The trailheads provide access to out-and-back hikes or rides in either direction.
An iconic feature of the trial is the old railroad bridge across Coeur d’Alene Lake at Heyburn State Park. The bridge trail bed has been built with 8% grade slopes and horizontal rest areas every 30 feet, all the way across the bridge inclines. The bridge and trail span 3,100 feet across the lake.
The trail grade from Heyburn State Park to Plummer is mostly through pine forest and has a typical grade of 3%. From the bridge, along the lakeshore, through Harrison, and on to Cataldo at I-90, the trail is essentially flat with grade <1%. from Cataldo to Pine Creek grades increase slightly ot 1-2%.
The trail passes through the town of Harrison where there is a marina on Coeur d’Alene Lake. Harrison can serve as a base for accessing the trail there or by driving to other trailheads. There is one accessible parking spot and vault toilet adjacent to the trail at Harrison. The town offers a motel, a couple of restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a bike shop. However, there is a steep grade for one short block from the trail up to the businesses.
The Idaho State Parks website for this park has a series of excellent downloadable maps of the entire trail.
Submitted by Ed Price
Assessed August, 2019
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