The Centennial Trail - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

May 24, 2020

The Centennial Trail

It was beautiful when we woke up this morning - warm, sunny, calm.  A welcome change to the generally chilly and grey weather we’ve experienced here for most of the past week.  Looking in the road below the cabin, it’s surprising how crowded it looks.  Until yesterday we’ve practically had the place to ourselves, but almost overnight it filled up with Memorial Day weekenders.  It’s startling to hear dogs barking and voices of children on the deck next door.  We were so lucky to be able to experience this place, and doubly lucky to be here when it was all so quiet.

Another spot we’re going to miss.
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It’s Sunday evening now, and we’ve just finished packing the Jetta for the long drive back to Portland.  There won’t be time or energy to write up today’s ride tomorrow, and I don’t want it hanging over me after we get there either.  So, you’re getting a slap dash, hasty accounting of today’s ride.  Better than nothing, hopefully.  If not, tough.

We ended out our stay in the Palouse with a ride along the Centennial Trail.  Like the Bill Chapman trail that links Pullman and Moscow, the Centennial is another excellent interstate route that connects Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.  Wide, smooth, paved the whole way, it’s a very attractive ride that I imagine in normal times is very heavily used.

Like the Pullman/Moscow linkage, this is actually two different, integrated trails.  The 37 mile long Spokane River Centennial Trail extends from Nine Mile Falls to the Idaho Border, and is the responsibility of Washington State.  The North Idaho Centennial Trail continues further east for another 24 miles, ending at Higgens Point on Coeur d’Alene Lake.

The whole 61 mile trail is too long for us to take in as an out and back in one bite.  We’ve only got time for one bite though, so we took ours out of the middle - starting in Coeur d’Alene, we biked west to the state line and beyond, time boxing ourselves so that we’d make it back to the car in time for dinner.  We didn’t want to be out too late, because we still had to drive south back to the cabin and then get packed.

The trail is a fine ride, but the highlight was our lunch stop at Post Falls Park.  The river was dammed here over a century ago to generate electricity for the region.  It’s a very interesting spot - the Spokane River splits into thirds here, each third coursing through a different rocky channel.  All three of them are dammed, although only the northern one is visible from the park.

There is actually a lot to be said about the dams, the river, the geologic history of the area, the Rathdrum Aquifer, ice dams, cataclysmic flooding events.  It goes on and on and is all interesting, but I’m not going to tell you about it because I’m tired and I want to go to bed.  You’re all big boys and girls.  Do your own research if you want to know more.

There has also been plenty written about this great trail too, so I won’t add much about that here either.  I can’t say I was too enthusiastic about the first five or six miles, which are pretty much just a ride through suburbs alongside I-90.  Easy and pleasant riding, but not really exceptional.  Beyond Post Falls though the trail really starts to shine.  It separates from I-90 and becomes much more peaceful; but best of all, it closely follows the south bank of the Spokane River.  The trail seemed to get better with every mile, and I was sorry when I saw Rachael coming back at me and it was time to turn back.  Sometime I’d like to see it again, and maybe base ourselves near here for a longer stay some day.  

Starting out on the Centennial Trail. It looks a bit busy here, but it was generally very quiet. We had our bandanas along, but never felt the need to wear them while we were biking.
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There’s a large, colorful mural (“It’s a cutthroat world”) that covers both walls of the I-90 underpass.
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It’s a cutthroat world!
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The miles just west of Coeur d’Alene parallel the river, but you can seldom see it. You can however usually see and hear I-90.
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The ride gets much more enjoyable near Post Falls, when the trail separates from the highway.
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This dam at Post Falls is quite impressive. Surprisingly, it’s one of three at this point in the river. The Spokane River splits into three channels here, and all three of them are dammed.
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The north channel, below the dam.
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Looking back up the north channel, toward the dam.
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Approaching the state line. The trail gets more attractive with every mile.
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Another interesting plant, new to me. Likes sun.
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The blossoms have a spiked shape that reminds me of a larkspur. Too big though. More like an hawkspur.
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Bill ShaneyfeltImage matches well with Balkan toadflax.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linaria_dalmatica
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltFrom the Balkans! A world traveler, a plant I can relate to. Also an unwanted noxious weed.
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1 month ago
Crossing the Spokane River, just a few yards east of the state line.
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The Spokane River.
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The Washington-Idaho border.
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Looking back at the Spokane River bridge. Pretty impressive investment, given that it’s just for us bikers and pedestrians. Would have been much cheaper to toss us onto the shoulder of I-90 for a few yards.
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In Washington now. The Spokane River is just visible to the right.
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Looking across the river from the Centennial Trail.
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She looks like she’s opening up a fortune cookie to me. Seems to be good news.
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I wasted a few minutes trying to get a decent shot of this catbird. It wasn’t until I was biking away that it occurred to me that I should have taken a video so you could hear its remarkable song.
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Jen GrumbyHad to look it up. They're chatty birds!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes they are, and their dialog is so varied. They’re one of our best singers, rather like a mockingbird.
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1 month ago
We’ve seen plenty of osprey shots here, but I like the way that it’s perched on this snag.
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We were surprised to return to the car and see that we were just across the lake from Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery. Might as well walk over and see if they have an open table.
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Video sound track: Conviction of the Heart, by Kenny Loggins

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Ride stats today: Scott: 39 miles, 900’; Rachael: 47 miles, 1,200’

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Jen GrumbyNice to see some other people out riding in the video!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, a nice warmup to returning to the WV. I think we saw more bikers today than the whole last two months put together.
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1 month ago