Bike Tour North Idaho
TRAIL OF THE COEUR D'ALENES FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. BIKE TRAIL INFO: LODGING, CAMPING, THINGS TO DO ALONG THE TRAIL OF THE COEUR D'ALENES RAIL TRAIL
UPDATED 3:39 PM 6/22/2016
Share your pictures of the trail on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Riders Facebook Group.
Welcome to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, a paved recreational rail-trail that crosses the picturesque North Idaho panhandle between Washington and Montana. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy elevated this 72-mile trail to its biking trails Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Unofficial Guidebook is designed to help you transform a pleasant, mostly flat ride on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes into a fun-filled people-powered vacation.
Get tips on necessities like water and restrooms, lodgings, and where to rent bikes and other equipment. Read restaurant descriptions and discover shopping, entertainment, and other recreational opportunities in the area. Find out what to expect at trailheads and in trailside communities. Find handy links to trailside accommodations and restaurants menus on this page.
North Idaho's Bitterroot Loop
There's more! The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Unofficial Guidebook includes cycling tips for the entire 300k Bitteroot Loop. It tells you how to bike between the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and the Route of the Hiawatha (RoH) through national forest on the NorPac Trail; and how to get to Avery, Idaho, from the RoH Pearson Trailhead, then return to Heyburn State Park via the Old Milwaukee Rd. to St. Maries and on SR-5. Only 13 miles of the loop are on state highway. You will learn the best options for avoiding rural highways wherever possible, if you don't want to compete with vehicles or breathe exhaust fumes.
Connect with Fellow Trail Riders on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Riders Facebook Group
WHERE DOES THE TRAIL BEGIN?
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is like a string that spans the north Idaho panhandle from Plummer to Mullan. Which end of the string is the beginning?
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes guidebook starts in Plummer and works east for several reasons. Trail miles are marked on maps beginning at Hn’ya)pqi’nn, the Plummer Trailhead. It is the only trailhead accessible by free public transit from Coeur d'Alene; it is closest to Spokane (the largest city between Seattle and Chicago), and closest to an international airport. The region's history begins with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and it is their vision and hard work that sparked one of the nation's most popular biking trails.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
There are several ways to get to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. Drive, hire a shuttle service, or use a tour company that features the trail. Several lodgings providers offer courtesy shuttles. You can also travel all the way from Spokane International Airport to the Plummer Trailhead using only biking trails and public transit. (See last FAQ).
WHERE CAN I GET A MAP?
The Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails provides printed maps that can be picked up at various businesses along the trail or requested via an online form or email on their website. These are nice because they include the entire 300k Bitterroot Loop network of rail trails. Trailside businesses sometimes run out of these maps during the riding season. In that event, you may want to print one from the Idaho Parks and Recreation Dept. website onto a standard sheet of paper. They also provide links to portions of the trail that you can view, download, and print.
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe sometimes prints maps for distribution, and some may be available at the tribal Fish and Game office near the Plummer Trailhead. You can call the tribe's main switchboard at 208-686-1800 and ask for Fish and Game to inquire about their trail maps.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Riding the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is free and there is no charge for parking at trailheads with the exception of a $5 Motor Vehicle Entry Fee (MVEF) for day use in Heyburn State Park. Come without a vehicle, save gas and use the park free. Please see the next FAQ regarding group permits.
WHEN DOES MY GROUP NEED A PERMIT TO USE THE TRAIL?
Groups of 25 or more riding the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes must contact a Trail Manager for details on group use permits. Also, all commercial guide operations and tours need a special use permit
from Idaho State Parks and Recreation in addition to a license from the
Idaho Outfitters and Guide Licensing Board.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RIDE THIS RAIL TRAIL?
Some people devour the entire trail in one day. Many visitors take two or three days, but there is enough to see and do for a memorable weeklong vacation.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?
There is enough to do along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes to create a great pedal powered vacation in scenic North Idaho. Look over the bucket list to make sure you don't miss anything.Options include hiking, boating, kayaking, touring, geo-caching, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, dancing, sightseeing, wine tasting, antiquing, and shopping, to name a few. All these fun activities can be easily accessed from with a mile or less of a trailhead. Also, consider extending your stay with Connecting Trips featured in the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Unofficial Guidebook. They have been selected because of their unique offerings, and they are located within an easy ride of the trail or courtesy shuttles can be arranged with lodging providers.
See even more of this beautiful area. The Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails website provides excellent itineraries for additional rides near the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.
WHERE CAN I RENT BICYCLES?
Bicycle rentals are available along the trail at three locations:
Pedal Pushers in Harrison, Excelsior Cycles in Kellogg and Silver Mountain Sports in Kellogg. New this year, the Friends of Coeur d'Alene Trails have opened a visitor center on Sixth between Cedar and Bank Streets, where they rent Marin hybrid bikes.
ARE GUIDED TOURS AVAILABLE?
Yes. ROW Adventures offers multi-day bicycle tours around the Inland Northwest. They have packages that include full logistical support for your self-guided vacation on local trails that are separate from vehicle traffic. This includes shuttles when necessary, luggage transfers, and lodging within walking distance of restaurants. You may also request a guided trip on The Trail of the Coeur d Alenes and the Route of the Hiawatha with knowledgeable, certified interpretive guides from June 1 to August 30. You will be in the best hands when you engage ROW's services, but don't take my word for it. National Geographic Adventure magazine voted ROW Adventures one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth." Call them at 866-836-9340.
DO TRAILHEADS HAVE DRINKING WATER?
The only water fountain at a trailhead is at Hn’ya)pqi’nn Trailhead (Plummer). Plan to buy plenty of water at trailside stores. Stretches between sources vary from one to 25 miles.
ARE THE RESTROOMS OPEN ALL YEAR?
Flush toilets at Hn’ya)pqi’nn Trailhead at Plummer and Heyburn State Park are shut down during cold weather to avoid damage from freezing. The
composting toilets on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation are open longer, but generally close in winter. Portable restroom at Cataldo Trailhead is removed during the off-season. Other restrooms stay open year round.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD AND LODGING?
There are many places to eat and stay along the trail but some expanses have no services. Accommodations span from spartan camping cabins, with nothing but wooden bunkbed frames (you bring the matress), to luxury condos with rooftop hot tubs. You can find some amazing deals on very nice lodgings along these trails. Explore the links to motels, inns, vacation rentals, and campgrounds in the vicinity of the trail in the left and right columns. All hospitality providers that are linked from this page support the trail guide and this Web site so when you say you saw them on southlakecda.com it helps everybody.
Explore links to online menus. Theb>The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Unofficial Guidebook highlights specialties at restaurants in each trailside community along the way, and explains how to get there.
CAN I PARK MY RV AT TRAILHEADS?
There are no designated RV parking spots at any trailheads, but several have space to park and maneuver large campers and trailers conveniently. These include: Plummer, Chatcolet, Silver Mountain, and Mullan. There are commercial RV parks at Heyburn, Harrison, Cataldo, Enaville, Elizabeth Park, Osburn, and Wallace.
WHERE CAN I PITCH A TENT?
Camping is restricted to established campgrounds, such as Harrison City Campground on Lake Coeur d'Alene, pictured here. See the bar on the right for links to other campgrounds along the trail. The webcam link above shows views of the area immediately south of the lakeside campground in Harrison, Idaho.
For detailed descriptions of trailside communities, points of interest, historical insights and connecting trips, get the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's Unofficial Guidebook.
CAN I MAKE A BONFIRE?
No bonfires are allowed along the trail right of way. Trail managers also request that people refrain from launching fireworks from the trail.
WILL I BE ABLE TO FIND ORGANIC OR VEGETARIAN FOOD?
Some restaurants offer enlightened dining selections, including wild salmon, salad bars, soups, vegie burgers, and organic ingredients. These are noted in the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's Unofficial Guidebook. Also, check the menus in the restaurant guide in the right column. Many eateries serve specialties made with huckleberries picked in the surrounding mountains, and a couple of local farmers provide a few naturally grown items to chefs and grocers. North Idaho Mountain Brewery of Wallace provides some of its spent grain to the D&G Bakery.
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's Unofficial
Guidebook includes a telephone list of trailside lodgings, bike rentals and transportation options to the trail.
CAN I BRING MY DOG?
Pets are welcome if they remain on a short leash and under your control at all times. Please clean up any ‘land mines’ they deposit.
IS THE TRAIL ADA ACCESSIBLE?
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Guidebook notes trailheads with disabled parking spaces and accessible restrooms. Much of the route is flat. Inclines at Plummer and Chatcolet Bridge are about five percent and engineered with level areas that give you a break from the uphill climb. The grade between Wallace and Mullan is about three percent. Please see related FAQ below, regarding motorized vehicles.
ARE MOTORIZED VEHICLES ALLOWED?
You may occasionally encounter an official motorized vehicle on the trail, but the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is designated for non-motorized use only. An exception is a multi-use section between Wallace and Mullan, which is open for snowmobiles in winter. Motorized wheelchairs have always been allowed on this trail.
Additionally, a new federal rule opened public non-motorized trails in the US to "Other Power Driven Mobility Devices" for disabled riders. (See section 35.137 Mobility Devices). OPDMDs are transportation devices that are not specifically designed for people with mobility disabilities, but are used by them to get around nonetheless. Examples of OPDMDs are the Segway® and electric bikes. If you want to use an OPDMD on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, you have to get a permit in person from trail managers Kathleen Durfee at the Old Mission State Park, 208.682.3814, or Jason Brown with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, 208.686.1118. Call before you go to make sure somebody will be there to process your permit. Local trail managers have the right to regulate the size, speed, and characteristics of OPDMDs and to close trails or portions of trails to them if they can prove they are harmful.
ARE HORSES ALLOWED?
Horses are not allowed on the trail.
WHAT WILDLIFE IS THERE?
Much of the trail is rural and one of its charms is the presence of wild animals. Eagles, osprey, blue heron, deer, beaver, snakes, turtles, turkeys, moose, coyote, bear, elk, and cougar all inhabit the region. Cougars have been sighted at several locations along the trail in fall of 2011. Enjoy these animals but don’t feed or approach them. If you see a cute little baby assume a protective mother is nearby. Watch for bear, deer, elk and coyote sign that announces the presence of these animals. Please report bear, cougar or moose sightings on or near the trail within the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation to the tribe’s wildlife program by calling 208-686-6603.
Habitat along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes supports more than 200 varieties of birds. Here is a Bird List compiled by
Coeur d'Alene Audobon.
ARE HELMETS REQUIRED?
Helmets are not legally required on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.
CAN I GET THERE WITHOUT DRIVING?
Yes, but take a deep breath! If you are coming from other parts of the world and don’t want to drive, you can still reach the trail without riding in traffic, except for a few short portions of the Spokane Centennial Trail. There are several options – some more convenient than others.
Here are a couple of quick and easy ways: If you stay at the Coeur d'Alene Casino, you can catch one of the free casino buses from Spokane. You need to call to find out where they will pick you up. Make sure to mention you have cycles.
You can also hire a private shuttle service, or a tour company that handles logistics, such as ROW Adventures .
Spokane Airport Express, based in Spokane, Washington, is a regional shuttle service that wants to help solve your transport needs. Despite the name, they shuttle throughout the area and the owner sounds very willing to find solutions for any size cycle group. You can also call SAE to meet you at a trailhead if you find yourself stranded with a broken bike. 509-413-7986.
Guests staying at the Wallace Inn may inquire about pre-arranged shuttles from the Spokane International Airport when making reservations. Arrangements must be made at least two weeks in advance.
If you have more time than money, or want to travel in a heroically sustainable manner, there are three public bus companies that serve various trailheads, and travelers with bikes are allowed, but it will require great planning and patience.
Getting Here from the Airport
Board Spokane Transit Authority bus #60 from Spokane Airport to downtown Spokane. At the Bus Plaza, transfer to the #174 at Riverside and Post. Stay on the bus to the end of the line (16 miles) at Liberty Lake. STA buses carry bikes on a first-come-first served basis. You can cycle the rest of the way to Idaho on the Centennial trails. Harvard Trailhead is an easy 1.3 miles north of the bus stop on Harvard Rd.
In Idaho catch a free
Citylink bus at Spokane St. and Seltice Way. You can reach Plummer Trailhead from there by bus, but it will take three of them: Blue Route, Link Route, and Rural Route. You can eliminate one of the buses by staying on the Centennial Trail to the Riverpoint Transfer Station, then board the southbound CityLink Link Route to the Coeur d'Alene Casino. From there, a Rural Route bus will drop you off at the Plummer Trailhead. See the
CityLink Web site for schedules, route updates, and advice on traveling with a cycle.
Cyclists can ride all the way from Spokane, WA, to Coeur d'Alene, ID, on the Centennial Trails. The Spokane Centennial Trail friends website has details about what to expect along this 20-mile stretch, including trail maps, and gaps where you will have to ride in traffic. Mileage counts on the Centennial Trail go from east to west, but you'll be heading east.
Here is how to get to the trail from the Bus Plaza in Spokane. Go east one block on Riverside, then north four blocks on Howard. Find the trail next to the carousel in Riverfront Park. Helmets are required in Spokane. Don’t wander over to Division St., where bicycles are illegal.
When you cross the state line, the Spokane Centennial Trail becomes the North Idaho Centennial Trail. You can take it all the way to downtown Coeur d’Alene.
Once in Coeur d'Alene, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is still about thirty miles away, no matter which trailhead you are bound for. If you don't want to ride in traffic you will have to take the CityLink, call a private shuttle, or hire a boat and captain to zip you and your gear down to the south end of Lake Coeur d'Alene. See the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Guidebook for shuttle service information.
Northwest Trailways buses no longer come through this part of Idaho.
WHO OVERSEES THE TRAIL?
A six-member Trail Commission sets policy for the trail. Seats are filled by members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, the State of Idaho, and the public. Trail policies are officially adopted at commissioner meetings, which are open to the public and scheduled for April and October, but may occur more often if necessary.