North Idaho Weekend: Traverse the CdA, Conquer the Hiawatha
Want to traverse an entire state in one ride? It can be done in northern Idaho on the paved, scenic Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.
Named for the Native American tribe that used this route before it was a railroad and now a rail-trail, the “CdA” is a 72-mile-long asphalt path with plenty of nature and a few creature comforts. It’s pretty far between espresso stands, so come prepared.
Read my Seattle Times story for my full report on the CdA.
In the Times story, I didn’t have the space to discuss another of the area’s cycling treats: The Route of the Hiawatha. This 15-mile rail-trail is stunning in many ways, starting with the 1.6-mile tunnel. Bundle up and power the lights, because it’s dark and cool in there.
After bursting out into sunlight, you traverse a number of high wooden trestles (all quite sturdy and safe) and six other, shorter tunnels. At the bottom end of the trail, you can turn around and slog your way back up the long grade, or you can do what most people do: hop on the shuttle bus that transports you and your bike back to the top.
Skinny-tire road bikes might have a problem with the long tunnel’s slippery rock path, or with the gravel sections of the downhill ride that follows. But a touring bike with wider tires or, of course, a mountain bike, would do just fine. If you have the wrong kind of bike, they will be glad to rent you the perfect ride at the start. Buy your trail pass at the Lookout Pass ski area.
Here are photos and resources to whet your appetite for a north Idaho cycling excursion.
Idaho Parks & Recreation trail information
Nonprofit group Friends of the Coeur d’Alene Trails
Amazon page for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Unofficial Guidebook by Estar Holmes
Information on the Route of the Hiawatha