Biking the Panhandle of Idaho























During the second and third weeks of September, 2007, my brother, Sophus, and I biked four trails in the Idaho Panhandle and one in Eastern Washington. Below are photos of our journey with commentary about the trails for those who might be interested in doing something similar.




Route of the Hiawatha

This route follows the 14.5 mile stretch of The Milwaukee Road that the "Hiawatha" passenger train ran. It cuts across a section of the Bitteroot Mountains using 10 tunnels and seven trestles. The trail runs down a gentle slope from the East to the West. The surface is dirt and gravel and is easily traversed using a hybrid bike - that is, you do not need a mountain bike; however, a road bike would not be advised. Most important is the need for bike lights. I would suggest two on your handlebar and one on your forehead. The first tunnel is 1.6 miles long and you would be left in a dangerous situation if you had only one light and it were to fail midway through the tunnel. The trail makes one switch-back; hence, on the first segment you can look down on the trail and trestles you will bike over on the second segment and then, when there, you can look up at the trestles you crossed earlier. At the end of the trail, a bus will shuttle you back.


Click on any figure to enlarge






The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

The second trail we biked begins in Mullan on the East side of the Idaho panhandle and ends at Plummer, Idaho, near the South end of Lake Coeur d'Alenes. It consists of 71.4 miles of paved pathway that follows the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alenes River until it joins the North Fork. The trail then follows the Coeur d'Alenes River until Lake Coeur d'Alenes, and then follows the East shore until it crosses the lake over an impressive bridge. At that point, it passes through woods up a slight grade for 7.5 miles to Plummer. Be sure to bring plenty of water while biking the Western segment because there are few places where you can fill an empty bottle.





The Centennial Trails
Idaho - Washington

We next biked the two connecting Centennial Trails that run from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to Spokane, Washington (or vice versa). We started on the West side of Coeur d'Alene and biked to the center of Spokane, a total of 40 miles. The trail is paved, but is not a rail-trail; hence, there are a few steep grades. It also passes through several residential areas in both states where it is necessary to share the road with local traffic. How to weave in and out of these neighborhoods is not always obvious, but after stopping a couple of times for directions, we made it. Fairly long stretches are beside I90, but there are some magnificent views along the Spokane River.




Lake Pend Oreille

Our final bike ride was along and across Lake Pend Oreille. Although the shortest ride, it was perhaps the most beautiful.