Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Bike Path
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.
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.