Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows of our fondness for national parks. But we are not always fond of their pet rules. So we more often opt for state parks as their pet rules are a little more lenient.
Which brings us to Heyburn State Park in Idaho. Hayburn is unique as it was once slated to be a national park but it was later decided to make it Idaho’s first state park.
Heyburn State Park is located in the middle park of Idaho’s panhandle. The area is hugged by green lush trees and winding back road highways leading to the park’s many entrances.
We entered the park through the main entrance and found ourselves at the visitor center. Although closed during our visit there were many informative signs outside, highlighting the history and wildlife in the area. It was here that we learned that Heyburn was at one time slated to be a National Park, even having the Congressional Act signed in 1908 in order to start the process of making Heyburn into a National Park. By 1909 the Federal Government had decided not to make Heyburn a National Park and the state of Idaho ended up purchasing the land and making it into its first state park.
The dogs and I carried on to the first stop, the Marsh area, where we followed a wooden boardwalk out onto the Chatcolet lake. Waterfowl floated about in the water during the sunny day of our visit. There was even a blind to watch the birds from without disturbing them. I did receive some side-eyes from other visitors when I took the dogs into the blind, but the dogs kept their manners in check and no birds were disturbed by the dogs while I viewed the birds from the blind.
The Marsh Stop was outfitted with picnic tables, which granted us a nice spot to enjoy our lunch before taking a short, shoreline hike, rounding the Chatcolet Lake.
Heading further down the Chatcolet Road led us to the most recognizable spot of the park, the iron bridge that crosses over Chatcolet Lake. A small boat launch and marina are found nearby along with the Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes State Park trail system. The area is popular with bike riders who are following the trail along the former railroad line. The trail is about 72 miles long and leads from Plummer Idaho to Mullan Idaho.
While crossing the bridge be sure to keep an eye out for the resident osprey. The Osprey has made its home located on top of the bridge. You will most likely disturb her by walking by, but it does allow you to see this bird of prey up close.
The Trail of the Coeur d’ Alene traces the shoreline of the lake giving you stellar views of the area. There are several spots for your pups to hop in the water. Although keep an eye out for Heyburn’s own version of the lock ness monster (or more likely it was a beaver) that startled Boomer while he was swimming. Regardless, it is still worth keeping an eye out for wildlife as dogs can sometimes upset the wildlife… You know if they aren’t terrified of wildlife and run in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.
It’s always a gift to own an animal who should protect you but ends up looking to you for protection. But I guess sometimes it is ok to be a delicate flower.
There are a few hiking trails found in the park. The Indian Cliffs Trail is one of the more popular spots. The trail is 3 miles in length with a 564-foot elevation gain. The trail is also dog and family-friendly. There will be moderate to heavy traffic on the trail depending on the time of year due to its popularity. It is recommended to keep your pets on a leash as there is wildlife in the area. There are also several equestrian trails at Heyburn State Park, found to the east of the visitor center, if you bring your horse friend, instead of your dog friend to the park.
We rounded out our trip to Heyburn State Park, surviving the lake monster, taking in some leisurely strolls and admiring the avian wildlife. Although our next visit may include an overnight stay at the campground located near the park’s visitor center as the dogs are becoming quite the avid campers!
Heyburn State Park is located at 57 Chatcolet Road near Plummer Idaho. The park is open year-round and park fees are in effect year round as well. A fee of $5 USD per vehicle or the annual $10 park pass is accepted. Camping pricing ranges from $12 to $34 USD with cabins and cottages available from $50 to $132 USD (pricing current as of March 2018).