Day 3: Harrison to Wallace. Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes - Idaho Trails 2019 - CycleBlaze

September 10, 2019

Day 3: Harrison to Wallace. Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Osprey Inn served a gourmet hot breakfast at 8:30 AM. Kinda late for touring cyclists, but I noticed that few cyclists are on the trail before 10 AM. I enjoyed the conversation with the other guests, all cyclists. One woman from Seattle, plus 6 of her friends visiting all the way from Florida. Finally on the road at 10 AM after a stop at the store in town. 58F (14C) and sunny, very nice.

I dropped down from ID 62 to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes which is close to the water. I will stay on the trail all the way to Wallace.

A mile from Harrison I detoured 100 yards on a cross road to see an interesting bridge across the Coeur d'Alene river. I always wonder why builders put a wood deck on a steel bridge.

Wood deck road bridge near Harrison. A rare road that crosses the trail.
Heart 0 Comment 0

As expected the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is flat as can be for many miles, passing through wetlands on a raised railroad bed. The Bitterroot mountains seem far away at first.

The trail uses an old Union Pacific rail grade built in the 1880's. One of many branch lines built by the company that completed the first transcontinental railroad in Utah in 1869. The rail grade was abandoned in 1992. A major environmental cleanup ensued, bridges were modified for trail use, and many recreational facilities were built.

The 57 mile segment from Harrison to Mullan opened in 2002. The 16 mile segment from Harrison to Plummer opened in 2004. Total cost of the 73.2 mile paved trail was $49 million. The trail is open to the public with no user fee. Pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed but all other motorized vehicles are prohibited.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in flat wetlands but heading towards mountains.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The wetland area has no roads. The trail goes for many miles without crossing a road.

Miles and miles of wetlands. Flat as can be.
Heart 0 Comment 0

It was a beautiful morning, mostly sunny. The temperature climbed to 70F (21C) by noon, but then clouds formed and the temperature dropped. The trail was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday in September. Most of the cyclists were day-trippers but I did see a few cyclists with loaded panniers who were presumably doing the Bitterroot 300k route.

Busy trailhead even on a Tuesday in September.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The rail grade blasts through rocks for no apparent reason.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The trail mostly passes through unfenced private land. Instead of fences the trail has about two signs per mile reminding users to stay on the trail.

Damn, I was hoping to shoot a grebe for lunch. ;-)
Heart 0 Comment 0
Coeur d'Alene river and Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.
Heart 0 Comment 0
I saw many good reflections today. This was the best.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The trail stays close to the river but most of the time trees obstruct the view of the river. I often had a filtered view of the river through the trees, but seldom had a clear river view.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes has a table and interpretive sign about every 2 miles.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Still more wetlands, even as the mountains close in.
Heart 1 Comment 0

The trail crosses the Coeur d'Alene river 4 times on old railroad truss bridges. 3 of the bridges are very long. The bridges are narrow, barely wider than a train.

Truss bridge #1. On the left is a flow gage which is online at
Heart 1 Comment 0

As the valley gets steadily narrower the trail starts to go parallel to I-90. The highway is across the river, usually out of sight but not out of earshot.

Truss bridge #2. The plaque on the bridge portal says 1924.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The trail also starts to go gradually uphill at maybe 1/2 percent grade. Barely noticeable. Finally starting the long, gentle climb to the Bitterroot mountains.

Sometimes the trail only has a view of the forest.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Truss bridge #3 is shorter than the others. Unusual "double cross" truss with pieces passing through each other.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Base of Silver Mountain ski area.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The sky was increasingly gloomy and it finally rained for about 10 minutes starting at 4 PM. I didn't stop. I just pedaled harder to stay warm.

Former train depot in Kellogg. Somehow saved at low resolution.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The route from Kellogg to Wallace is through a string of small mining towns (or former towns). Kellogg is the site of the huge Bunker Hill mine which was the world's largest producer of zinc and lead. The mine produced 6.2 billion pounds of lead and 2.5 billion pounds of zinc.

I-90 is faintly visible across the river.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The mining district isn't especially beautiful. I saw only a few piles of mine tailings but I saw a lot of abandoned buildings and industrial equipment.

Truss bridge #4. I-90 on the right. Another "double cross" truss.
Heart 0 Comment 0

I arrived in Wallace at 5:10 PM and got my $67 reserved room at Brooks Hotel. It was built in 1905 but is neither fancy nor historic looking on the inside. The hotel is quite basic but the room does have a microwave, fridge, and A/C. No free breakfast but the hotel has a restaurant.

Entering Wallace. On the left is the Northern Pacific railroad office/depot.
Heart 0 Comment 0

My hotel is not very charming but the town is bursting with historic charm. I enjoyed wandering around downtown. Downtown is MUCH bigger than what I would expect for a town of only 759 residents. The population was several thousand in the early 1900's during the silver boom.

The 1905 Brooks Hotel is my home tonight. Not fancy at all.
Heart 0 Comment 0

It's obvious that Wallace was extremely prosperous in the early 1900's. This area produced more silver than any place else in the world. Nevada is known as the "Silver State" but the Sunshine mine alone produced more silver than the entire state of Nevada. And there were many other successful mines.

Shoshone Covnty Covrt Hovse.
Heart 0 Comment 0

One appealing aspect of Wallace is the absence of chain stores. The only corporate business in town is U.S. Bank which is required by state banking laws to use that name. Wallace has no McDonald's, Subway, 7-11, or any other chain businesses. They proudly claim that every business is locally or family-owned. The city is able to discriminate against chain businesses because the entire town is a Historic District. It's the only historic district in the nation that encompasses an entire town.

Wallace was an incredibly successful silver mining town in the early 1900's. Many buildings claim to be former brothels.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Another unique aspect of Wallace's history is that it decriminalized prostitution in the early 1900's and celebrates that history. Madams were respected community leaders and philanthropists. Wallace has a sex worker museum and at least one Bed & Breakfast in a former bordello.

Downtown Wallace, Idaho.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The downtown area is relatively flat but is surrounded by steep hills. Nearly all the town's houses are on steep hills connected to downtown by big stairways. Like a green version of Bisbee, Arizona.

Public stairways connect downtown to houses on steep slopes.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Dinner was a bit of a problem because most of the restaurants are closed on Monday and Tuesday. I finally found Cogs Eatery was open and participated in their Taco Tuesday.

Today was a good touring day. The trail was very easy with flat terrain and a gentle tailwind. I intentionally pedaled slowly to avoid getting tired or sore. The weather was an improvement over the previous two days, with only 10 minutes of rain.

Distance: 51.5 mi. (82.4 km)
Average Speed: 9.6 mph (15.4 km/h)
Ascent/Descent: +598/-107 ft. (+182/-33 m)

Today's ride: 52 miles (84 km)
Total: 142 miles (229 km)

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