A while back I mentioned we were making some travel connections in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but I haven’t yet filled you in on the fun, pet friendly things we found to do there. Well, wait no more! We had a great time seeing the sites with the dogs, doing some hiking, and checking out the nearby towns – we also found a few places you’ll want to avoid. So, fasten your seat belt and we’ll give you the tour …
The resort town of Coeur d’Alene (pronounced core de lane, and often referred to by it’s initials, CDA) is draped along the north shore of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes – Lake Coeur d’Alene. The entire focus of the city seems to be on the water – from the floating boardwalk and marina where you can stroll with your dog, to the grand Coeur d’Alene Resort, to the pet friendly hiking trails at Tubbs Hill Park.
A stroll down Sherman Avenue reveals oodles of galleries, boutiques and eateries. Unfortunately, Coeur d’Alene is one of those cities that does not allow pets to join you at the outdoor seating areas of the local restaurants. We’d encourage City Hall to re-think that policy and become a more pet friendly travel destination!
We also found a curious constraint on dogs at City Park – pets are allowed on the sidewalks that pass though the park, but are not allowed on the grass or on the beach. I guess if you’re just hoofing on through, it’s alright to take your dog along … but if your plan is to mosey along and sniff around a bit, they’d rather you go elsewhere. It’s better than banning pets from the park, I suppose – but it didn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Fortunately, Tubbs Hill Park isn’t far and dogs are more than welcome there. We even saw some swimming in the lake!
Ten miles east of town, just off Hwy 97, is the Mineral Ridge Scenic Area … and one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken. It’s not that long, has a nice mix of shade and sun, and the views are unbeatable!
The area gets it’s name from the rock mining that occurred here. Pick up a trail guide at the start of the hike and brush up on the history of the area, as well as the local flora and fauna as you go. Be sure you don’t miss the Columbus Tree!
The trail summits at Caribou Cabin with an elevation of 2,875 feet – 660 feet above the parking lot. From here you can loop around back to the parking lot or head out on a couple of dead-end trails to more viewpoints of the surrounding Coeur d’Alene Mountains.
The very best view is a treat they save for the end of the hike – when you come out to the point of the mountain and can look down the length of Lake Coeur d’Alene. I could have sat and enjoyed the scenery all day … of course the dogs had other plans.
There are more hiking trails in the area than you can shake a stick at! Stop by the Visitors Center downtown and pick up maps for the Centennial Trail, which runs for 24 miles from the Idaho/Washington state line to Higgens Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene, or the 72-mile long Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, which goes from Plummer to Mullan and has multiple trailheads near Coeur d’Alene with easy access. Either one has great out-and-back hikes to check out.
With a lake as magnificent as this one, you can’t help but want to experience it from every angle. Thankfully, there’s a route around the shore that allows you to do just that! Tell your pooch to pack a towel and prepare for a fun trip because the opportunities to get out and explore are plentiful.
Our first stop was in Harrison to check out the pet friendly beach and marina. Buster and Ty aren’t big fans of the water, so they didn’t partake, but these dogs were having a blast!
UPDATE: We’ve been made aware that dogs are no longer allowed on Harrison Beach. =(
And this sweet little fella was just getting ready to take his boat out for a spin …
As you drive around the lake, it’s fascinating how the scenery changes … from evergreens and mountains on the east side, to the St. Joe river valley, to the golden, rolling fields on the west side. And before you know it, you’re back in Coeur d’ Alene!
The entire trip is about 100 miles and you could easily do the hike at Mineral Ridge, stop for a splash at the beach in Harrison, and still make it back to town in time for dinner.
Up the road about 40 minutes, and just 50 miles from the Canadian border, is the quaint little town of Sandpoint. We’d heard such great things, and even had a guest post about it earlier in the year, so we were excited to have a look around.
Perched on the shore of the massive Lake Pend Oreille (43 miles long, six miles wide and more than 1,200 feet deep in places) much of the recreation in Sandpoint involves the water in the summer and the ski resorts in the winter. The downtown is smaller than Coeur d’Alene, but still fun to walk around, and there’s a pedestrian trail that starts here and runs 51 miles to Priest Lake.
Once again we had a ruff time finding a place to get lunch with the boys, so we picked up some sandwiches and headed to City Park … only to have that plan thwarted, too.
It’s a pretty location, but unless you’re planning to rent a boat and get out on the lake, I’m not sure it’s worth the drive for pet travelers. If you do head this way, be sure to drive up the mountain to the ski lodge and check out the view from there! Had we known about it earlier, we’s have taken our picnic up there to enjoy with Buster and Ty.
Overall, I loved the beauty of the Idaho Panhandle – but they have a little work to do on their pet friendliness. Have you been there? What was your impression?
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