Monday, March 30, 2009

Places to Paddle: Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


Harrison RV Park in the town of Harrison on the South East side of the lake, about an hour drive south from the town of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Harrison RV Park is on the waterfront, next to the town’s public marina. The Rails-to-Trails bike path called Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes borders the east side of the RV park. Lake Coeur d'Alene is 30 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide.

RV Park info: The park isn’t big, so contact them regarding availability before making the drive. First come, first served “free” boat mooring for RV park campers. 208-689-3212 or 208-689-3393,

SUP-Harrison-BikeTrail.jpgBike trail info: Coeur d’Alene Tribe Trail Manager, 208-686-7045. The trail is 73 miles of 10 foot wide asphalt that is perfect for the cyclist, walker or in-line skater. Certified handicap wheelchairs are allowed.

Bike Rental and Repair: Pedal Pushers, 208-689-3436. Open in the summer and some Spring and Fall hours. Call first.

This place is great! The town of Harrison numbers 267 citizens. The Harrison Trading Co. general store rents DVD’s and Ruby’s ice cream shop sells bathing suits. Founded in 1891 and past its heyday by the 1930’s the tiny town is filled with historic buildings, many of them shuttered. The RV Park is a minute walk into town where you can get an espresso, a banana split or a pub dinner in a town filled with friendly people.

Rent a bike or bring your own and ride on the paved Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. It's part of the Rails to Trails cycling complex. Travel south towards Plummer and you’ll ride along the river before crossing the only bridge over the lake, a 3,100 foot long railroad steel trestle bridge built in 1921. From the RV park it’s about 8 miles to the end of the bridge to Heyburn State Park, the Northwest’s oldest state park.

The lake is surrounded with low mountains and a forested shoreline that ranges from steep to shallow and marshy. We launched in the marina and headed north into the shallow marshlands. We turned into the wide mouth of the south fork of the Coeur d’Alene river and paddled upriver for 20 minutes. Head high bamboo-like grasses and shorter aquatic plants thickly trim the rivers edge. We saw turtles, bald eagles, bear sign, deer, rabbits and fish. The lake water is clear, though because of past land use practices the lake has heavy metal contaminants. Placards in the marina advise showers after being immersed in the lake. This doesn't put a damper on the locals as they seem to swim and boat regularly.

Photos: Isabella Barna riding the bridge trestle on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene. The view of the town of Harrison and including the RV Park (on right) & the boat dock on left. (From the jetty.)

1 comment:

  1. Great job on the blog. Really like what you are doing! Found you and your blog while surfing for SUP stuff. Great find here. I'm stuck in Madison, WI. waiting for the latest snowstorm to blow through. Still months away from comfortable SUPing on the water (which we have a ton of) around here.