eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Bike Path

with 6 comments


The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Bike Path may be the longest bike path in the US, over 72 miles and is located in the Panhandle on Idaho.

I had read about this trail and in July as part of our Northwest Tour we made it a destination. Here’s how the Friends of Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Bike Path describe it:

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes bike path follows the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Mullan, a mountain mining town near the Montana border, to Plummer, a town on the prairie near the Washington border. More than 72 miles of paved path takes you from high mountain splendor, through the historic Silver Valley, into the chain lakes region, along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, over the Chatcolet Bridge to Heyburn State Park, and finally climbs to the Palouse prairie.

You can get more infomation about the trail at: Friends of the Coeur d’Alenes Trails and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Bike Path (includes map).

After over a week of being pounded by truck traffic a 72 mile ride on a bike path sounded wonderful.

The scenery was impressive and a bike path of that size in Northern Idaho is amazing. As I have said before the bicyclists in the Northwest need all the bike paths they can get.


But the reality of riding the bike path was a bit of a surprise. It was a midweek day in July and there were not many other people around so we had a quiet path to enjoy. The day was claer and pleasant in the mid-80’s. We had good views of distant hills. But we were bored. After about an hour of riding we looked at each other and said “Are you bored?” We both had the same reaction. Yes, it was pretty and there were bridges that took us along and over the water, but we were bored.


I have been trying to understand why we had such a strong negative reaction to the trail. I would love to say it was a great ride and we need many more of these, but I can’t. What was it we didn’t like?


Public Telephone for Boats?

The waring signs do put you off a bit. You are warned about the water and the soil, that you should wash after riding the trail and not stop along the way. Apparently the trail was built on a major ecological disaster. The old railroad bed was filled with tailing from the mines in the area.

The other thing that strikes you as you ride along the railroad bed is that the trail doesn’t turn much and is quite flat. It is essentially one long trail with few branches. This may be great for taking the kids on a ride but not a lot of fun for most serious riders.

Sorry, I wanted to say this was a great ride but I can’t. There is a lesson to be learned here about what makes a great bike path.


Written by Roland

August 23, 2006 at 9:06 am

Posted in Rides

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the honesty. I was thinking about doing this ride, but may reconsider.


    September 29, 2006 at 8:52 pm

  2. I don’t mean to knock this trail. It is a great achievement to have a trail of this length.

    The warning signs are a little scary, don’t stop along trail, don’t eat along trail, and make sure to shower off any dirt from trail after riding.

    But the bottom line is that it is a little boring for an experienced rider.


    September 30, 2006 at 7:57 am

  3. I totally disagree with the “boring” assessment.
    My Father my son and I have ridden the trail each of the last 3 years in late june. You can really open up on the trail because there is almost no traffic.
    Of coarse some people prefer something like the Burke gilman trail in Seattle, with its teeming masses and speed limit.
    As for the “experienced rider” qualifier that is mentioned, I will point out that there are many different types of rides and riders. An “experienced” downhill rider would probably pass on a trip through Spain and portugal because it sounds boring. I, would not.

    Chip Hutchinson

    January 27, 2007 at 3:07 am

  4. Chip, it is great that you love the trail.

    Yes, I have bicycled quite a bit in Europe and have passed over Spain as a bicyling destination prefering France, Italy, Croatia, Corsica, Slovenia, Portugal and Sardinia.

    I prefer long self contained bicycling trips but that isn’t what most riders do so my opinions probably don’t agree with those of most other riders. As they say, my opinions are my opinions and nothing else.

    Bicycling is like most things in life, the best is what you enjoy. The riders in the Northwest dearly need safe and enjoyable cycling routes. I hope they all enjoy riding the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes bike path and I am glad you and your Father enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing a differnt view.


    January 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

  5. Hi
    I came over from Olympia , Wa and did a bike ride on that trail in June (or was it early July?)

    Could you give me some information
    date of ride , website where I can get info

    enjoyed the ride last year, and no I did not glow in the dark after the ride, even though my wife may disagree depending on the night

    Tom Dickinson
    (born and raised in Cd’A 1955 to 1995)


    February 19, 2007 at 6:14 pm

  6. I live in the Northwest where the riding is good but windy (I live in Ellensburg, WA where 30-40 mph winds are normal.) Wanting to get away from the winds for a few days, I went with a friend to explore the Couer d’Alene trail from Plummer to Mullan and back. In a sense I understand what Roland is talking about. The route is flat as a pancake so you have to remind yourself about standing up every now and then. But the scenery is beautiful and in our out and back we saw bear, a deer with its fawn, bald eagles, egrets, blue harens, and lots of waterfoul I couldn’t name. The wildflowers were in blossom along the route. There was little traffic so you can really move if you want to. I found the experienc worth repeating.

    Ruth Ann Stacy

    June 22, 2007 at 5:18 pm

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