Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Cycling Guide

Fantastic cycling on the Trail of the Couer d'Alenes in northern Idaho

One of the best cycling trails in the western US is the 73-mile-long Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in northern Idaho. It’s a fully paved, mostly flat trail located in the Idaho panhandle between Plummer and Mullan.

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes takes you over the cool-looking Chatcolet Bridge, along Coeur d’Alene Lake and Coeur D’Alene river, past numerous lakes, through wetlands, and through the historic Silver Valley. The birding is fantastic, and you might get lucky like we did and see a moose. The eastern section is often close to I-90, so it’s noisier than some of you will like.

You can cycle a section of the Coeur d’Alenes trail, use a shuttle and bike the whole thing one way in a day, or do a version of what we did and cycle it over two days from two different trailheads.

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Cycling up to the long Chatcolet Bridge
Cycling up to the long Chatcolet Bridge

Why you need to stay on the trail

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is part of an environmental remediation project. Silver was discovered around 1884 – and because of that a rail line was built. A lot of the Trail of Coeur d’Alenes follows the original rail line – which unfortunately was built with waste rock from the mine and tailings containing heavy metals.

There has been a huge amount of environmental remediation work done on and around the trail. The 15-mile section of trail in the Reservation between Plummer and Harrison has been cleaned up the most with tailings removed to a depth of 12 feet or more!

The rest of the trail has a thick layer of asphalt and gravel barriers. There are loads of signs saying don’t drink the water and don’t sit on the ground to minimize any contact with contaminants. Use common sense.

We stuck to the trail and ate at the picnic tables. All our water was either bottled or brought from home.

A lunch stop at Gap Rock on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
A lunch stop at Gap Rock on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Cycling the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes summary

Distance: 73 miles one way

Width of the trail: 10 feet

Map: This is a downloadable map that will make planning your cycling trip easier.

Number of trailheads: 20 with Plummer at the western end and Mullan at the eastern end.

Most popular trailheads: Plummer, Harrison, Bull Run, Cataldo, Enaville, Pinehurst, Silver Mountain, Wallace, and Mullan.

Types of use: Road or mountain biking, walking, in-line skating, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are permitted. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.

Drinking water: DO NOT DRINK any surface water – even if it is filtered as it is likely contaminated with heavy metals. You can get water in any of the towns you pass through.

Camping: None is permitted along the trail corridor.

Cost: Free

All trailheads have large maps, map handouts, picnic tables and a stand of bike tools
All trailheads have large maps, map handouts, picnic tables and a stand of bike tools

Map of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

What to take cycling on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

We didn’t know what to expect with regard to facilities along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, so we brought a few bike tools, snacks – especially as we did 70 miles the first day, water, rain gear along with a warm hat and gloves.

You will find 17 stops along the trail with toilets and they are all kept very clean. There are also over 35 picnic tables, including some with shelters.

I would recommend taking a lot of water though we did find a cooler full of bottled water you could take if needed. There are also some towns along the route – especially in on the eastern section of the trail where you can purchase cold drinks, coffee, snacks etc.

At the very least carry some high energy snacks so you don’t bonk, a bike pump, patch kit, and an extra inner tube.

You'll find bike tools at many of the trailheads - but we didn't know that before we showed up
You’ll find bike tools at many of the trailheads – but we didn’t know that before we showed up
Someone had left this container filled with bottled water west of the Bull Run trailhead
Someone had left this container filled with bottled water west of the Bull Run trailhead

Distances along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Plummer to Mullan73 miles
Plummer to Harrison16 miles
Harrison to Medimont11 miles
Medimont to Rose Lake7 miles
Rose Lake to Cataldo9 miles
Cataldo to Enaville5 miles
Enaville to Smelterville4 miles
Smelterville to Elizabeth Park4 miles
Elizabeth Park to Osburn5 miles
Osburn to Wallace4 miles
Wallace to Mullan 7 miles
There are maps of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes at most trailheads
There are maps of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes at most trailheads

Shuttle buses for those cycling the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Lou’s Bicycle Shuttle Service offers shuttle services between Plummer and Mullan – and all trailheads in between. All of his shuttles are private by appointment. He also offers shuttles to and from the Spokane Airport and to the Centennial bike trail.

Cycle Haus offers a shuttle service between Harrison and Mullan in both directions from May 25th – September 15th, 2024. The shuttle picks up and drops off at various trailheads along the way. The price you pay is based on the distance you travel.

We carried rain gear, a lunch, bike tools and water while cycling the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
We carried rain gear, a lunch, bike tools and water while cycling the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Where to rent a bike

Coeur d’Alene Bike Company has a storefront in Kellogg right along the trail.

The Coeur d'Alene bike company in Kellogg
The Coeur d’Alene bike company in Kellogg

Our experience cycling the Coeur d’Alenes Trail

Before we showed up at the trailhead in Plummer, I did a lot of online research about cycling the Coeur d’Alenes trail. Mostly what I tried to figure out was where to stay and how much cycling we could do and still have fun in a day.

Our group of three decided to meet in Coeur d’Alenes and spend the night. The next morning, we drove 30 minutes to a large easy-to-find trailhead in Plummer. The plan was to do a 70-mile out and back bike ride to the Bull’s Run trailhead and then drive to Wallace and spend the night. On the second day we’d do a 40 – 50 mile out and back bike ride so we would cover off most of the trail.

We cycled the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in the third week of April, before any shuttles are offered. Ideally a one-way shuttle between Plummer and Mullan would be the way to go if you wanted to knock off the whole trail in a day and have a car waiting for you.

Me at the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes trailhead in Plummer
Me at the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes trailhead in Plummer

Day one cycling the Coeur d’Alenes Trail

We didn’t get going until about 10 AM. But that was okay as it was cool at the start of the day. I particularly liked the bike ride from Plummer through to Harrison. There were cliffs, wildflowers, the bridge, and lots of cycling along Coeur d’Alene Lake. We also had three wild turkeys cross the trail in front of us.

After Harrison the cycling was still fantastic as we rode beside the river and then through miles of wetlands. The bird life was exceptional with great flocks of white pelicans, American coots, great blue herons, cormorants, and ducks galore.

Our turn around point was at Bull Run. By the time we turned around, we could cycle in shorts and t-shirts. We found the final 5 miles with it’s supposed 3% grade, slower going than anticipated – but all in all we had a great day. We finished about 5:30 PM with loads of stops for photos.

Photos from the first day of cycling – Plummer to Bull Run Lake

A monument at the start of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Plummer, Idaho
A monument at the start of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Plummer, Idaho
The start of the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes by the parking lot at Plummer
The start of the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes by the parking lot at Plummer
There is an osprey nest on the Chatcolet Bridge
There is an osprey nest on the Chatcolet Bridge
Lots of interpretive signage along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
Lots of interpretive signage along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
Cycling through a cliff area with loads of early blooming wildflowers just a few miles from the parking lot in Plummer
Cycling through a cliff area with loads of early blooming wildflowers just a few miles from the parking lot in Plummer

Day 2 cycling the Coeur d’Alenes Trail

It was drizzling as we prepared to start off – this time in full rain gear. We found free parking beside the Northern Pacific Railroad Museum.

From there you simply cycle one block to get on the Trail of Coeur d’Alenes under I-90. If you go east, you’ll reach Mullan in 7 miles though it’s almost all uphill. We did not do that part of the trail – and I’m not sorry we missed it, as you don’t get away from I-90 or the noise.

Instead, we cycled west towards Kellogg. It wasn’t a pretty start to the day, but it was a window into the historic mining communities. In Kellogg we stopped just off the trail at The Beanery for a latte to warm us up as we all had numb feet.

About four miles after passing Kellogg, we got back into the woods and spent most of the rest of the cycling day along the peaceful Coeur d’Alene River. We did pass one large open gravel pit where we were mesmerized to see the rock being thrown over the cliff to break up by a large excavator.

On this section of trail, we saw a moose and a lot of people fishing. Our turn around point was just after Gap Rock – where we enjoyed a scenic lunch overlooking the river.

Leaving Wallace in the rain
Leaving Wallace in the rain
In Wallace the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes starts under I-90
In Wallace the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes starts under I-90
I was dressed warmly all day
I was dressed warmly all day
Latte warmup stop just 100 feet off the trail
Latte warmup stop just 100 feet off the trail at the Beanery in Kellogg
We only saw a handful of cyclists on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
We only saw a handful of cyclists on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
I loved the cliff sections we passed along the trail
I loved the cliff sections we passed along the trail
In the mining area the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes also goes by the name Silver Valley Trail Route
In the mining area the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes also goes by the name Silver Valley Trail Route
The start of the trail in Mullan
The start of the trail in Mullan

There are two sections of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene that are popular for families cycling with kids.

The 8-mile one way section from Harrison to Chatcolet Bridge is an excellent one as the trail parallels Lake Coeur d’Alene and the bridge is great fun to cycle.

Another favourite is the 5-mile one way section between Cataldo and Enaville. It’s flat as it meanders along the river in the trees. On this section we saw a moose! Note that there are restaurants at both ends of this section of trail.

We saw numerous fisherman along the river near Enaville
We saw numerous fisherman along the river near Enaville

Where to stay along the trail

Coeur d’Alene

We stayed at theGreenbriar Innand had a very comfortable evening and a good dinner onsite.

TheRoosevelt Innis rated fabulous.

TheComfort Inn & Suites in Coeur d’Alenecomes with breakfast.

Harrison

Check out theSelby Knoll Guesthouse,- a holiday home rated exceptional.

Lakeview Lodge in Harrison is another option. There is also a lakefront RV park with 19 sites.

Wallace

We quite liked the historic town of Wallace with all of its restaurants and cute shops, just a short walk away from anywhere you stay.

In Wallace we spent the night at theBrooks Hotel– rated good.

TheRyan Hotelis another option – rated fabulous.

Kellogg

There are lots of places in Kellogg as it’s the home of the longest gondola in North America – that also provides access to the local ski hill – Silver Mountain Resort.

Check outSilver Mountain Lodgingor FairBridge Inn & Suites.

Our friend Scot biking underneath the gondola in Kellogg
Our friend Scot biking underneath the gondola in Kellogg

Interested in more amazing bike rides?

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A guide to cycling the trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho

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