It is week two of our two part series of hiking North Idaho with your dog. Last week I offered up some trails in the northern most part of Idaho’s panhandle. This week we move to the middle of the panhandle. We are still up north, but just not quite able to wave to Canada anymore.
Farragut State Park, Athol Idaho Hiking
In addition to being a fairly large state park, Farragut State Park is also a former United States Navy Training Base. There may be no access to the ocean here, but Farragut is special as it was the only inland naval base during World War II. If you have time after your hike be sure to stop by the Museum at the Brig to learn more about this base and its importance during the war.
Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail 2.1 miles / Easy / Elevation Gain 140 Feet
The Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail traces Lake Pend Oreille. It is a narrow single track trail that is shared between mountain bikers and hikers. This trail is easy and provides several opportunities to jump in the lake. If you have a swimming dog like I do, be prepared for a slight tug on the leash. Every gradual slope of the trail is an opportunity into the lake for a swim. The trail starts near Beaver Bay Beach and ends at Eagle Boat Launch, giving you a continual view of Idelwilde Bay.
To get to Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail enter into Farragut State Park’s fee area and turn onto South Road. Follow to Beaver Bay Road to the parking lot and the trail starts on the east side of the lot. The trail ends at the Farragut Boat Launch. You can add on to this trail by continuing on the Willow Lakeview Loop Trail.
Willow Lakeview Loop Trail / 0.7 mile / Easy / Elevation Gain 44 Feet
Willow Lakeview Loop Trail is another short and easy trail that can be added on to the Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail for some additional distance. The trail is not as close to the water as the Beaver Bay Trail is, but water access is still available. We were able to find a nice spot away from people and the dogs enjoyed lots of time romping around in the water. The trail does have some interesting old structures and other remnants left behind from the former United States Navy Base. Be sure to keep an eye out near the turn around point on the trail. The square pad out in the water is where the Navy does submarine testing.
To get to the Willow Lakeview Loop Trail enter into Farragut State Park Fee Area and turn onto South Road. Follow to the Farragut Boat Launch where there is a large parking area as well as picnic spots. A walking path leads down to the trail from the parking lot.
Squirrel Cache Trail / 1.5 miles / Easy/ Elevation Gain Unknown
Like a choose your own adventure book, this trail gives you lots of options to select your path as the trail splits off several times throughout the forested area. Although fun to choose, it could also leave you with a bit of wondering of what you may have missed if you are subject to fear of missing out (or FOMO as the young kids call it). The trail is shaded for the most part and offers a fairly level elevation, along with interpretive signs feeding you information on the history and trees found along the way.
To get to Squirrel Cache Trail enter into Farragut State Park Fee Area and turn onto South Road, following about 1.1 miles until the sign for the trailhead is found on the right.
Coeur D’ Alene Idaho Hiking
Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail / 2.5 miles / Moderate / Elevation Gain 695 Feet
Tagged as one of the best trails in the area the Mineral Ridge trail is a moderate trail with a WOW ending. The trail traverses back and forth up a hillside, mostly in the shade. Once you reach the top there is a small picnic shelter overlooking the lake. Here you can tack on Lost Man Trail, a moderate 1.4-mile trail with a 498-foot elevation gain. Or if you just want to stick to the Mineral Ridge Trail, follow along to the edge of the hill where you will be treated to a spectacular view of Lake Coeur D’ Alene. Time it right for a dynamic sunset and you’ll be glad that you did.
The Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail is found along the Lake Coeur D’ Alene Scenic Byway on Idaho Highway 57. Add on this quick 36-mile drive to your hike and take in all the beauty Lake Coeur D’ Alene has to offer.
You can also stop in Harrison Idaho at the Harrison Creamery and Fudge Factory (206 S Coeur D’ Alene Ave, Harrison. Noon to 7:30 pm) to pick yourself up something delectable after your hike.
Tubbs Hill / 2.4 miles / Easy / Elevation Gain 482 Feet
The well-known Tubbs Hill Trail in downtown Coeur D’ Alene is one that has alluded me for years. The fact that I have lived in the area as long as I have and never attempted Tubbs Hill is somewhat crazy. But on a warm summer day, I took the dogs to Tubbs Hill and finally completed the trail. Tubbs Hill is an easy jaunt, circling the hillside while following the Coeur D’ Alene Lake.
There are a few spots for your dog to jump in the lake, requiring following one of the many paths down the hillside to the lake. These paths can sometimes be a daunting task on the way back up to the trail depending on where you enter the lake due to steepness. The trail has markers along the way and a few opportunities to take the upper trail around the top of the hill. We stuck to the lower part of the trail because it was near the lake. A fair warning there is a suspension bridge along the trail. Although short it did freak my dogs out. Jovi slammed the breaks on and required quite a bit of coaxing to get her to cross the bridge. And hey, I get it, who likes to have the “ground” bounce underneath them as they walk?
After you finish up at the trail there is a small dog park located east of the trailhead, if your pup still has some energy and wants to make some new friends. Parking is also located at the McEuen Park and offers free parking for 2 hours. Tubbs Hill can easily be done in 2 hours as well as a short trip to the dog park.
To get to Tubbs Hill, head to downtown Coeur D’ Alene to McEuen Park. To reach the parking lot from Sherman Ave near the Coeur D’ Alene Resort turn south (towards the water) on 4th street to find the parking lot. The hill is visible from the parking lot and the trailhead can be found near the boat launch. There are bathroom facilities located at the trailhead.
If you are looking for a frosty beverage after your hike, stop by the dog-friendly Filling Station On 5th (501 Sherman Ave, behind Collective Kitchen), or Daft Badger at 1710 N 2nd Street, who has a dog-friendly patio.
Wallace Idaho Hiking
Pulaski Tunnel Trail / 3.9 miles / Moderate / Elevation Gain 810 Feet
For the most part, this trail is an easy walk through the woods. The trail follows along Placer Creek and provides several wooden bridges to cross as the creek weaves its way down the mountain. The Pulaski Tunnel Trail is also full of historical facts and provides interpretive signs to read along the way.
During 1910 the summer was one of the driest. Due to the lack of rain a horrific fire ripped through the Panhandle of Idaho, spreading to parts of Montana. The trail is named after Edward Pulaski, a ranger in the United States Forest Service during the 1910 fire. The trail follows along part of the route Pulaski’s crew used to escape the fire. At the end of the trail, you find the Nicholson Mine. The crew of 45 used the mine as a shelter from the fire when they had become trapped on the mountain. Sadly 6 men did perish in the mine from smoke inhalation.
The entrance to the mine is still outlined by a charred wood frame. Also take notice of the interpretive signs, as they are all framed with axes. This two headed axe, called the Pulaski Axe, was invented by Pulaski in 1911 and has since been used in wild fire fighting.
To find the Pulaski Tunnel Trail take exit 61 from I-90 heading east. Turn left onto Front Street and right onto 2nd Street. 2nd Street dead ends into High Street where you will take a right. Turn left on King Street, which turns into Placer Creek Road. Follow for about 1 mile and parking will be found on the left with a pit toilet. The trailhead is on the right, across the road. My GPS got confused while trying to find the trailhead, so it may be best to rely on written directions. Once you are done hiking, be sure to head into town and stop by the dog-friendly Wallace Brewing (610 Bank Street) or the City Limits Pub, home of North Idaho Mountain Brewery (108 Nine Mile Road).
Blossom Lake Trail / 5.5 miles / Moderate / Elevation Gain 1220 Feet
This trail may cause a bit of controversy as I am listing it as an Idaho trail. And while the trailhead may start in Idaho, the trail does lead into Montana. I did not know that until I returned home that night trying to figure out why the clock on my phone was hopefully on mountain standard time, and not that I had somehow lost an hour of time.
This trial is listed as “easy” on the trail guides that I found, but I would laugh in the face of anyone calling this trail easy. I am calling it moderate. The beginning of the trail may perhaps lead you to think it will be easy as the first mile is a fairly level walk through the forest. Keep in mind however that there is a 1200 foot elevation gain, which means that last two miles are where you will be climbing up. There are also several steep sections, but luckily there is shade most of the way.
The dogs and I hiked this trail on a very hot day. Normally I would have just chucked the hike due to the heat, but we had traveled pretty far to get to the trail. So I loaded up my day pack with extra water and we muscled through. I also knew the dogs would love going for a swim. It was so hot, even I hopped in. Well up to my knees. I did not have a swimsuit with me, and there would be no stripping down to my skivvies. Oddly enough the lake was packed with people, however, I was the only girl there out of around 20 people.
We were at the end of bear grass season, which was unfortunate. This trail looked to have what would have been a spectacular showing of bear grass. But with the end of bear grass season comes huckleberry season, which is nothing to slouch at. I picked berries on the way down the trail. Bushes are easily found along the trail. The dogs did become infuriated with my persistent stopping until they figured out what I was doing, and then they happily partook in the picking of berries.
This trail does take a bit of a drive starting with taking Exit 43 off of I-90 heading east at Kingston. Follow the Coeur D’ Alene River Road (FH 9) for 23 miles. Turn right (towards Murray Idaho) on FR 208 for 15.8 miles to the top of Thompson Pass. The road is not maintained in the winter, however, it is not a difficult road to travel in the summer, even if you are pulling a trailer. The parking lot is large and has a pit toilet along the road up to Revett Lake Trail.
And that’s our two part series wrap up of some dog-friendly hikes in North Idaho. There are of course many more trails, but I didn’t want to get too crazy with the list. I mean I can’t go overboard and then claim to not like hiking after all!