Sometimes I fear that we take for granted how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful area. We have so many outdoor recreational opportunities to explore, but often get in the trap of being too busy to enjoy them. I am midway through a 66 day challenge to add more physical activity to what has become a rather sedentary lifestyle. Instead of getting bored with the daily offerings at my home gym, my family and I decided it is time to start being tourists in our own community.
Our first adventure was a rather easy trail hike at the Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail. This trail is located at the intersection of Wolf Lodge Bay and Beauty Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene. What makes this trail so accessible is how close it is to town and its parking lot right off of Hwy 97. Situated around the trail head are picnic areas, restrooms and a beautiful view of the lake.
The trail is a loop that takes you to the top of Mineral Ridge and features incredible views of the surrounding mountains and a huge westerly view on Lake Coeur d’Alene. It is a relatively simple hike with a well-marked trail of around 3.3 miles.
The initial portion of the hike winds up the southern side of the ridge and gains around 800 feet of elevation. About midway up the climb there are points of interest worth checking out. The first one is a short side trail that takes you to a nice viewing point. Here, you can see some evidence of past mining operations and hard rock tunneling attempts. You see, Mineral Ridge is just that – it was the site of a variety of historic prospecting efforts.
As you reach the summit of the ridge there is a nice little picnic shelter called “Caribou Cabin”. The views to the north here are simply awesome as you are looking down on Wolf Lodge Bay. From here, the trail levels off and heads due west. Along the way you will still notice shallow pits dug by early prospectors. You will want to take a short break at the far western point of the ridge called “Silver Tip”. The views here are the best of the journey. While it was a crisp morning day in Mid-November on our visit and the skies were overcast, the imagery remained breathtaking.
From this point on, the hike takes you back downhill to the parking area. We would recommend this hike to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time and is looking for an easier trail. It is a good trail for kids, and it is also dog friendly.
We particularly love this hike towards the end of November, because that’s when the Bald Eagles start their annual migration to the area. They come to feed on the salmon spawning in Wolf Lodge Bay, adding a dynamic element to the scenery.