Cool Tools had a great post on Rails to Trails the national program dedicated to turning retired rail lines into paved bike paths. Last weekend my friend Jesse and I went for a 1.5 hour ride on the Couer d’Alene Trail a 72 mile long Rails to Trails conversion that follows the Union Pacific Railroad‚Äôs right of way from the high mountains near Montana, down the Coeur d‚ÄôAlene River, along wetlands and the “chain lakes” and it was a lot of fun. I had no idea that there was such a nice and long paved bike path there so it was a pretty neat discovery for me.
Jesse and I started our ride at the little town of Harrison and followed the trail east along the Couer d’Alene River for roughly 7 miles or so before turning around. The ride was fairly scenic and definitely enjoyable, but a good portion of that particular stretch is bordered by cow pasture to the south which got a little tiresome, especially since there it was a hot day and there wasn’t much shade. There were a lot of little lakes along the way though that were much more pleasant to ride by and the shaded parts of the trail bordered by water were pure heaven. I would definitely like to go back and ride further on that trail in the future (and in both directions). I’ll bet the stretch that runs along the southern portion of Couer d’Alene Lake and continues on to Plummer, ID is pretty scenic and probably has some decent shade in spots too thanks to the many pine trees that cover the shores of Couer d’Alene lake.