Enjoy these outdoor activities to make your visit to Coeur d’Alene one to remember.
The sun pierces wispy clouds high above the rippling Lake Coeur d’Alene, a vast expanse of water which bathes the mountains’ foothills in a cerulean blue. This charming small town nestled in north Idaho is a hidden gem where waterfalls bathe dark rocks in snow-white foam and towering peaks scrape the sapphire sky. From parasailing and whitewater rafting in the summer to skiing down snowy hills in the winter, here are the best outdoor activities in Coeur d’Alene.
ON THE WATER
For my cousin, longtime Coeur d’Alene resident Audrey Langsev, the lake is one of the best parts of the city. Langsev recommended renting a boat or kayak to take out on the water and see the town from a different vantage point. From luxury pontoons to double-decker boats with float tubes and waterslides, Coeur d’Alene Boat Rentals provides a variety of ways to enjoy your time on the lake.
If you dare to brave Idaho’s ice-cold rivers, Langsev suggested heading to the ROW Adventure Center to try your hand at white-water rafting. Before beginning your thrilling ride down the rapids, strap on a bright yellow life jacket and helmet and hop into a flaming red raft. Then, navigate the choppy waters with a team of five or six fellow rowers.
To get a bird’s-eye view of the lake and surrounding city, Langsev recommended flying high above the water with Coeur d’Alene Parasail. During this epic escapade, the rider hangs suspended in the air, attached to a canopy almost 500 feet above the sparkling blue water. Soar over the lake in a secure harness as a boat guides your flight from below. While in the air, you will be treated to stunning views of the forested hills and cloud-wreathed mountains which frame the stately lakeside city of Coeur d’Alene.
More adventures await after your parasailing excursion. Coeur d’Alene is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise where wakesurfers defy gravity, hovering over frothing foam on a narrow board as the boat roiling the waters plunges ahead. Daredevils skim over the lake’s surface on water skis, juking their way through ripples and waves. At Timberline Adventures, risk-takers fly over the lake on a zipline, cruising past mountains with the wind in their face.
Langsev suggested rollercoaster enthusiasts visit Silverwood Theme Park, the largest park of its kind in the Northwest. After hanging upside down on Stunt Pilot, head to Tremors, a wooden coaster which ferries riders 100 feet into the air before plunging them into an underground tunnel. Buckle up on the Spincycle, a dizzying ride which whirls visitors around 104 feet in the air. Only the bravest will attempt Aftershock, a 191-foot giant which hurls riders forwards and backwards through heart stopping rolls and loops.
Coeur d’Alene caters to the contemplative hiker as well as the thrill seeker. If you prefer walking in the woods to wakeboarding on the water, head to some local trails to experience the beauty of the rugged landscape which surrounds the lake. Langsev pointed to three premier hiking options, each with unique views of the tree-lined lake. Start at the Canfield Mountain trails, where over 25 miles of dirt paths wind through lush meadows and dark green trees. Hikers choose their own routes depending on how far they wish to walk and how strenuous a path they want to take.
After roaming the slopes of Canfield Mountain, make your way to the 3.3-mile Mineral Ridge Trail loop and soak in the sight of Beauty Bay and Wolf Lodge Bay. Visit the trail in December to see bald eagles descend on the ridge and shoreline in their hunt for the kokanee salmon which spawns during that time of year.
Finally, head to Tubbs Hill, a sprawling 120-acre slope bordered on three sides by the glistening lake. Miles of hiking trails crisscross Tubbs Hill, so take your time wandering down a variety of these dirt lanes which invite you to further explore the emerald forest.
HIKING AND BIKING
For visitors on the lookout for a strenuous hike, Coeur d’Alene resident Pace Hartfield suggested the Scotchman Peak Trail, a popular trek which winds uphill to the tallest point in the Idaho Panhandle. Once you reach the summit of Scotchman Peak, gaze out over the magnificent Clark Fork Valley. Before heading out on the trail, pack plenty of water, grab your hiking poles and stash a trash bag in your backpack so no garbage ruins the trail’s delicate ecosystem.
If you prefer to pedal your way through Idaho’s rugged beauty, head to the Hiawatha Trail, a 15-mile bike path along an old railroad track. Ride underground through the long Taft Tunnel and over the weathered trestles that dot the evergreen landscape along this secluded path which ushers you into the heart of the forested northwest.
THE FINAL STOP
Both Langsev and Hartfield recommended visiting the local coffee shops and restaurants scattered throughout the city. Hartfield pointed to Panhandle Cone and Coffee as a neighborhood favorite. This niche shop boasts a variety of ice cream flavors, such as roasted strawberry, peach mango habanero and wildflower honey. Other off-the-wall entrees to try include a scoop of sour cream lime pie and a snowy eggnog latte with house-made honey whip.
Enjoy the best of what Coeur d’Alene has to offer when you visit these must-see attractions.