Last but not least… Part III. This will be the last post from Idaho – at least for a while. We will be moving on, as we always do.
We made our way further north from Riggins to Heyburn State Park in Plummer, ID.
On our route to Heyburn, we spent hours simply amazed by the views and the vastness of what we believe to be wheat and rye fields. The entire process of planting, growing, harvesting and shipping grain is staggering to me, particularly based on the vast acres – no, miles of crops being grown.
Apparently, it is harvest season because just about every farm is in the process of harvesting their crops. Massive combines are separating the wheat from the chaff. And the golden views are endless and gorgeous.
I am not kidding – we saw fields as far as the eye could see as we made our trip across the central part of Idaho – from Riggins to Plummer.
We drove through Nez Perce and Coeur d’Alene Indian reservations along our route, including the Nez Perce National Historic Park for a brief visit.
We had a few lovely days at Heyburn State Park, including a little paddling and several bike rides. Several bike rides for my bride, that is: one for me. The campground was great and located right on the Chatcolet and Benewah lakes.
There were a number of places to hike as well, although it was a little toasty for that (temps in the 90’s). I did take a short hike on the lakeshore trail and came upon a cedar stand that was just so soothing – could have sat there for hours. These trees were probably several hundred years old – my guess and stood probably 100-200 feet tall. Cedar is a beautiful wood, as you can by one chuck here from a downed tree (ignore the rot).
As mentioned, Karen went several times and I went once biking on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. This trail, which formerly was a Union Pacific line from Mullan, MT to Plummer, ID, runs 73 miles in total length.
Heyburn State Park, right on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and Lake Chatcolet, was great. Between bike rides, paddling and a little hiking it was the perfect stop.
We moved on from Heyburn SP in Plummer to Coeur d’Alene, locally called CDA. Technically, we camped in Athol, but really a short drive in to CDA.
Our stay was at Ravenwood RV, which was pretty much a full-service RV resort, not that we cared a bit about the resort function. The place was swarmed by young kids as this was the week before Labor Day, and about a mile from Silverwood, self-described as the largest amusement park in the northwest. Sadly, we passed on the amusement park. But the kids tasted great, slightly roasted over the grill.
Temperatures returned to the ‘90’s on this stop, so we moderated our activities a bit. Sleeping in on one day was one of those moderations.
Coeur d’Alene is really a cool town, with about 45,000 residents. There are sections of town with neat craftsman style homes, not dissimilar from those found in some Atlanta neighborhoods. And the city park, right on Lake Coeur d’Alene is beautiful – tons of places to sit on the beach, walk around town, picnic lunch (what we did), or any number of other activities.
This was also a brief shopping and laundry stop. You probably want pictures and more details, but some things shall remain discreet.
Best yet, we all took a Segway tour – a guided 8-10-mile tour around Coeur d’Alene on Segways! Honestly, this was a hoot, and nearly as much fun (some would say more) than our ATV rides in Stanley.
During the tour, in the city park, was a beautifully restored and fully functioning carousel!
We continued from Coeur d’Alene on for a short diversion to Wallace, Idaho in order to bike the Route of the Hiawatha, a rails-to-trails 17-mile route that takes you through some pretty spectacular and interesting sights.
But wait – there’s more! We departed CDA and traveled to Wallace, ID.
We stayed in the Wallace RV Park, and everything to do in town was but a walk away.
But the reason we came to Wallace, aside from the cool vibe, was because Karen had always wanted to ride bikes on the Trail of the Hiawatha. The trail is a 15-mile rail-to-trail through the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho, riding through many tunnels and over many trestles.
In fact, you begin this ride starting at the 1.75-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel. Can you say creepy? Wet? Muddy? Cold (45 degrees)? Long and dark, as in pitch dark? If it wasn’t for Karen, I would have pitched my bike off the first slope I came to. But this is where good judgment is not conducive to a happy marriage. I may change up my meds after this ride, though.
The good news? Most (but not all) is downhill, as in a slight slope downwards. You know, the kind of slight slope that would be conducive for a heavy train trying not to careen off the face of the planet. Did I mention you have to peddle back through that 1.75-mile tunnel to get back to your vehicle? Just. Say. No.
Mind you – for as far as the eye can see, there are no signs of civilization other than the trail you are on – you are nestled in the western Montana and northern Idaho mountains.
But truthfully, this trail is a marvel to man’s abilities to carve a train track through these very intimidating and steep mountainsides.
As I mentioned, we stayed in nearby Wallace at the Wallace RV Park, We had full hookups, and at the far end of this small campground was a brew/pub (City Limits), which quite frankly was awesome – brewed their own beers and had a very credible menu of food to choose from.
We also had dinner at a small Italian restaurant, Blackboard Café, which was superb. If you chose, you could sit at the “bar”, but instead of overlooking the bar you overlook the kitchen.
From Wallace, we headed to the Riley Creek Campground in Oldtown, ID.
In all honesty, we landed at Riley Creek because we needed somewhere to camp for the Labor Day weekend, when lots of people like to camp. But it was excellent!
Riley Creek State Park sits right on the Pend Oreille (pro Pandolay) River, making for some nice kayaking on the river and in the slough. Unfortunately, due to the smoke from fires out west, views were heavily reduced.
This is not the end of our journey, but for now it is the end of our time in Idaho. Let me just say that Idaho was fabulous, perhaps one of the favorite places we have traveled to. And as always, we can thank my bride for the amazing itinerary for Idaho (and everywhere else!)
We now head… elsewhere! Stay tuned.