Monday, June 24, 2013

The Coeur d’Alene Trail


After several days and nights of rain, the sky finally cleared on Saturday, June 22nd.

Terry, one of the RV Resort’s owners organized a 21 mile bike trip on the Coeur d’Alene Tail.

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 71 miles of paved path takes one from high mountain splendor, through the historic Silver Valley, into the chain of 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. It was created through a unique partnership between the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Union Pacific Railroad, the U. S. Government, and the State of Idaho.

Coeur d’Alene Trail

The trail is not only a recreational facility, but also a solution to environmental problems left behind by Idaho's mining industry. Silver was discovered in the valley around 1884, and a rail line was built to access the mines around 1888. Much of the rock in the railbed was either waste rock from mines, or tailings containing heavy metals. The railbed was also contaminated with spillage from passing trains. To remedy these environmental problems, the Union Pacific Railroad, U.S. Government, the State of Idaho, and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe partnered to build a trail. The thick asphalt and the gravel barriers on the sides of the trail serve as a permanent cap to isolate contaminants from the surrounding environment.

We started at the trailhead in Plummer, ID to Harrison, ID, 15 miles. In Harrison we treated ourselves to large waffle ice cream cones at the Creamery. I had my favorite, Huckleberry.

Downtown Harrison

Downtown Harrison

We then made our way back, seven miles, to the Heyburn State Park boat launch where we were picked up and returned to the RV Park.

Along the trail04

Trail Alongside Coeur d’Alene Lake

Along the trail05

Asphalt now covers the old railroad bed

It was somewhat of an overcast day so the pictures and video did not turn out all that well.

Raija did not feel that she was up to a 21 mile trip and remained in the RV Park with Strider. The trail from the boat ramp to Harrison is fairly flat, except for the bridge over the lake, so we will be practicing on that part of the trail to build up our stamina for longer rides.

The bridge is the original railroad bridge. It was a swinging bridge to allow boat passage. When the railroad bed was converted to the bike trail, the ramps were added to raise the swinging portion of the bridge to a height high enough for boats passage. The bridge no longer swings open.

Riders coming off the bridge

Old Railroad Swinging Bridge

Bridge 02
Ramp leading to bridge is stair stepped

Along the trail03
Looking across the lake from the trail

Along the trail02
Homes along the lakeshore

I will need to come up with a way to rig the video camera to the bike so I can capture the view as seen from the bike.

The forecast for today and tomorrow is overcast skies, rain and possible thundershowers. Today’s low was 49. The forecasted high is 65. By the weekend we should be back to clear skies and into the low 80s.




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