Idaho Travels with Boomer USA Southwest Travels

Mary M. McCroskey State Park and White Pine Scenic Byway Idaho

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park

80 degrees + two black dogs + one overweight white girl = a bad combination

Last year I lost my job in May. Although it was a shock I didn’t let it slow me down too much.

After two days of digesting what had happened, I decided I should take advantage of the sunshine and explore a few nearby state parks in between my job searches.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
Jovi, always by my side

I loaded up the dogs and headed to McCroskey State Park for the day. Jovi did her part by offering up her love as well as her excellent navigation skills.

The park is named after Mary Minerva McCroskey, the mother of the park doner, who had moved to the area shortly after the Civil War.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
Skyline Drive

Although McCroskey is listed as a state park I really feel it is more of a driving tour.  The tour consists of 17 miles down a dirt road, called Skyline Drive, that would be perfect for horseback riding. Not that I’m a horseback rider or anything. But I did see many riders enjoying the sunny day as we traversed along the narrow dirt road. The road is also home to 7 different ecological zones ranging from wet to dry areas across the 17-mile drive.

Turn out spots are found along the way with hiking trails peeling off the road. We stopped at Lone Pine where we found a parking lot and a picnic pavilion about 1/2 of the way down the 17-mile road.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
Hiking on the Lone Pine Trail

I unloaded the dogs and leashed them up, finding our way to the trailhead. After a few feet onto the trail, I realized not only was it a hiking trail but also a motorbike trail as well as fat tire tracks were found about.

For the most part, the trail was in the sun and the heat was warm, even for an early May day. The dogs and I prefer cooler days for hiking.  But really, who doesn’t?  We had traveled too far to head back home for a cooler day, so we sucked it up and braved the warm day.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
A nice spot for a snack with a view

The trail ended with a nice lookout over the valley floor and mountainous terrain. There was also a picnic table for enjoying a quick snack or lunch… Neither of which Boomer or Jovi remembered to pack.

Upon our return trip, we were really starting to absorb the heat as it had warmed up significantly. When we reached the car, I was glowing like a pig and the dog’s tounges were practically touching the ground. Luckily we had more water in the car which the dogs greatly consumed and even welcomed a light dousing of water on their backs.

We were losing the light and my tires were on their last miles, so I did not feel like pushing my luck with carrying on down the Skyline Drive. Cutting a tire down and having to change it in the dark would have iced the cake for the week. So we turned around and headed back to Highway 95.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
1st bar in Benewah County

Just before getting back to the highway I stopped at the restroom facilities where I found an old building surrounded by a chain-link fence with a nearby sign, offering up the history of the old building.

As I read the sign I realized that I was like a moth drawn to a flame. There stood the very first bar in Benewah County, which happened to be the very county we were in. I imagined what sort of riff-raff would have frequented there and assumed I would have fit right in with the regulars of the establishment as I sipped on my frosty cold beer.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
The Palouse River along the White Pine Scenic Byway

We returned to Highway 95, taking the turnoff at Potlatch and followed the White Pine Scenic Byway. The Byway leads you along the prairie lands and wooded backways of the Idaho Panhandle.  The trip will take about 2 hours, depending on stops of course, with a distance of almost 83 miles.

Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park
The Trail of the Coeur d Alenes

The byway crosses through Saint Maries and traces the Saint Joe River with several opportunities to hop on the Trail of the Coeur d Alenes, a former railway turned into a paved biking and walking trail. The byway meets up with Interstate 90 near Cataldo Idaho, home to the Old Mission State Park and Idaho’s oldest standing building, the Mission of the Sacred Heart. The mission is definitely worth a side trip!

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