After following the Moosefish family tradition of playing hooky to go adventuring it was time to head east and get Henry into a new state. (He's now at 12 states, but he's got time.) Unfortunately, hiking in Idaho isn't an area of my expertise. In Washington, even in the remote parts of the state, I can rely on WTA to help me out. Not so in Idaho.
However, you can rely on our public lands to provide opportunities to get out. I started with the Bureau of Land Management's web site and quickly found a map of trails near Coeur d'Alene. Just look at all those sites! We chose Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail.
Mineral Ridge is a short trail of only about three miles and 600 feet of gain. Without being epic in length or gain it gets high above Lake Coeur d'Alene and gave us a view of what hiking in Northern Idaho is like. The smell of dry ponderosa pine and dust took me back to summer trips in Idaho and Montana. Henry loved checking out the prospects that give the ridge its name and spent a surprising amount of time sitting at the Caribou Cabin looking north across the lake.
The importance of keeping these lands public was reinforced when we reached the western end of the ridge. Although Mineral Ridge is federally owned and managed, much of shoreline we could see was private property. Houses line the water and access is restricted. Since becoming a state Idaho has sold 41% of its public land. That land is no longer accessible. I'd wager that if Mineral Ridge had been transferred to the state it, too, would be lined with houses and we wouldn't have been able to hike there.
Since Mineral Ridge is protected we were able to walk along sun-dappled trails, enjoy wildflowers dotting the slopes, and play leapfrog with a raven that kept its eyes on us. And Henry can check Idaho off his list, but something tells me we'll be back.
When you go, be sure to download the Mineral Ridge trail guide. It wasn't available when we visited and it contains tons of great info that will enhance the hike. And when you're driving through Coeur d'Alene make time to stop for a Huddy Burger at Hudsons Hamburgers where dessert is often a second burger.