Day 1: Spokane to Coeur d'Alene. Centennial Trail - Idaho Trails 2019 - CycleBlaze

September 8, 2019

Day 1: Spokane to Coeur d'Alene. Centennial Trail

I had good hot breakfast at 7 when the breakfast room opened at the Ramada Inn. Then I drove away from the hotel, across downtown, to find the parking lot where I have a monthly permit. I found the spot 1 block north of the Centennial Trail. The pedaling finally began at 8:40.

Today I spend the entire day on the Centennial Trail. First I pedaled 2 miles west (the wrong direction) just for the views. I had good views looking upstream (east) towards downtown but was disappointed that trees blocked any downstream view at the hilltop turnaround point. The Centennial Trail continues 13 miles downstream to Ninemile Falls.

The official name of the trail in Washington is Spokane River Centennial Trail. The trail from Spokane to Idaho was completed in 1991. A downstream extension from Spokane to Ninemile Falls was completed in 2015. In Idaho the trail name changes to North Idaho Centennial Trail. The Idaho portion was completed in 1996. Total length of the paved trail is 63 miles (101 km). 90% is separate paths and 10% is on-street bike lanes. It follows the Spokane river and has few cross roads but it's not wilderness. It's a recreational trail that spans the entire length of the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene metro area.

Centennial Trail and Spokane river west of downtown Spokane.
Heart 1 Comment 0

On my way back to downtown I stopped to look at Lower Spokane falls, then Upper Spokane falls. A long time ago these small water drops produced most of Spokane's electricity.

Spokane (pronounced spo-KAN) is the eastern metropolis of the state of Washington and the northern metropolis of a region known as the "inland northwest". The city population is 217,000 and the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene metro area has 722,000 people. Spokane seems to be thriving now but it grew very little in recent decades while the southern metropolis of the inland northwest, Boise, grew rapidly.

Lower Spokane falls.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Upper Spokane falls.
Heart 1 Comment 0

I followed the Centennial Trail across the Spokane river and into Riverside Park on an old road bridge that is now only open to bikes and pedestrians. Riverside Park is mostly on islands surrounded by the river, the site of a mini world's fair called Expo '74. The most prominent landmark is the former United States Pavilion which had a temporary canvas roof during the fair. The immense metal skeleton remains, and was recently updated to add LED lighting. I would like to see it at night with the light show running.

The United States pavilion in Riverside park was the focal point of Expo '74.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Riverside Park is also on the downtown side of the Spokane river, giving good views of the main island.

Riverside park and Spokane river.
Heart 0 Comment 0

On the downtown side of Riverfront Park is a sprawling metal sculpture of runners, including two runners in wheelchairs. The sculpture seems extremely popular, with most visitors stopping to take selfies there.

Inclusive runners sculpture in front of Spokane city hall.
Heart 0 Comment 0

After exploring Riverside Park I finally begin to make more progress on the Centennial Trail heading east past downtown, a convention center, a Washington State University campus, then across the river on a trail bridge and through the Gonzaga University law school. All very urban and upscale.

Wall Street in downtown Spokane.
Heart 0 Comment 0

East of Gonzaga the landscape quickly changes to industrial and working class neighborhoods. The trail stays close to the river and has few grade-level road crossings. The trail goes under the few bridges that cross the river. The trail has many side branches. Fortunately the main Centennial Trail is well marked in Spokane with both signs and paint on the trail.

Spokane has many trail branches. The painted Centennial Trail logo was helpful.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Later in the day in the Post Falls area I had to refer to my RideWithGPS route twice when I got to giant sprawling I-90 interchanges and couldn't find where the trail continues on the other side. Those places need graphical signs directing trail users where to go. The signage was excellent everywhere else.

The Centennial Trail has two notable sections of on-street bike lanes. On the first section I missed a small Centennial Trail right turn sign and went a mile off route on a busy road. 2 miles added to today's route. Fortunately it was my only accidental detour. I usually have difficulty navigating on urban and suburban bike trails.

There was a small shower while I was wandering around Riverside Park in Spokane. I waited a few minutes under a bridge. Rain started for good as I was leaving downtown Spokane. It rained nonstop from about 9:30 AM until 3 PM. The temperature was 60F (15C) all day. Yesterday it was in the 80's. This tour starts on the first cold day in months.

All of today's rest stops were under bridges to escape nonstop rain.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Thanks to the rain the trail was less crowded than it would normally be on a Sunday in September. I saw many runners who didn't seem to mind the rain. But very few cyclists.

Rainy river view from the Centennial Trail.
Heart 1 Comment 0

There are a couple of notable hills but the Centennial Trail is mostly flat along the river. Partly on a rail bed but mostly a suburban recreational trail built along the river. The trail is in great condition. Repaved in 2018 with extensive tree root remediation.

Sometimes the trail is in pine forest with no river view.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Just before crossing into Idaho I stopped under a bridge with a view of a very long trail bridge that crosses the Spokane river for the last time. A refurbished historic railroad bridge.

Long trail bridge across the Spokane river.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Trailside monument at the state line.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The worst part of the trail is in the Post Falls area. Mostly alongside I-90, sometimes on bike lanes on city streets. At a confusing mega-intersection in Post Falls I stopped for a disappointing lunch at a chain called Zip Burger. While eating lunch I warmed up a bit and looked at my RideWithGPS route to find where the Centennial Trail continues.

Spokane river in Post Falls. Post Falls dam barely visible in the distance.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The trail is much more scenic and pleasant for the last few miles to Coeur d'Alene. Along the Spokane river, then along the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The river is deep because Post Falls dam raised the water level 7 feet.

Centennial Trail and Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Coeur d'Alene is a large and upscale tourist resort town. Population 44,000. On the way into town the trail passes through two lakefront college campuses.

Centennial Trail and the city of Coeur d'Alene.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Because of the rain I only stopped for a few minutes in downtown. I parked the bike and walked a portion of the "world's longest floating boardwalk" which wraps around the marina.

Coeur d'Alene resort from the 3300 foot (1 km) long "world's longest floating boardwalk".
Heart 1 Comment 0
View of Coeur d'Alene from the bridge that allows boats to pass under the boardwalk.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Once again I had to refer to the RideWithGPS route to find where the trail continues east of downtown. A mile east of downtown I turned off the trail to go 2 blocks north to Budget Saver Motel.

It's a good value for an expensive resort town. $69, with a fridge, microwave, and breakfast. Close to a convenience store and a couple of restaurants. I arrived at 3:20 PM, spread out all the wet stuff, and cranked up the heat to encourage it to be dry by morning.

Dinner was a Cuban sandwich at the Moon Time Tavern. Overall it was a decent day despite the rain and complicated trail navigation. Flat terrain and tailwind made it easy. I crossed a sprawling metropolitan area with almost no traffic.

Distance: 49.1 mi. (78.6 km)
Average Speed: 9.9 mph (15.8 km/h)
Ascent/Descent: +1256/-980 ft. (+383/-299 m)

Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 49 miles (79 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0