If you visit Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in the summertime and are looking for a place away from the crowds, head to Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park. You will find a lakeside trail with lovely views and few people.

Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park sign in front of the lake at dusk
Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park sign.

State Park Overview

Rating: 2 out of 5.

About 15 minutes south of Coeur d’Alene (CDA) is a paved trail known as Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park. This trail is one of three trails in the Idaho State Parks system. At 5.7 miles, it is the shortest. However, it is part of the North Idaho Centennial Trail, which consists of 24 miles between Higgens Point and the Idaho-Washington border. This trail then joins the Liberty Lake Stateline Trail. So really, Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park is the beginning (or end) of a long, scenic trail through CDA and along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the Spokane River. This trail is also part of the Millennium Legacy trail system.

Wood trail sign for Coeur d’Alene Parkway and Centennial Trail.
Two trails in one.

Pros:

  • Close to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Access to and views of Lake Coeur d’Alene
  • Great sunsets
  • Small crowd situation

Cons:

  • Located right alongside a busy highway (noisy)
  • Short for a bike trail
Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park.

What To Do

  • Ride a bike. It won’t take you long to see the whole trail, but you can always continue on the North Idaho Centennial trail for a longer ride.
  • Take a walk. Be sure to watch out for the bikers. 
  • Get fit using the exercise course.
  • Enjoy a picnic at one of the picnic tables nears Higgens Point.
  • Take in a sunset. Not much beats a sunset over the lake.
  • Get out on Lake Coeur d’Alene. There is a boat launch facility at Higgens Point.
  • Visit the half-mile beach and take a swim.
  • Look for bald eagles.
Lake Coeur d’Alene at sunset.
Pretty views of the lake.

Amenities

There is a fair amount of parking. However, it may fill up on busy summer days. They have restroom facilities and the usual picnic tables and such. For all of the specifics, check out the parks and rec’s website for Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park.

Crowd situation

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We visited the Parkway right at sunset. There were a couple of other people enjoying the beautiful sight, but we had plenty of room to maneuver. I am sure it gets busier during a warm summer day. But everything I have read says this is a good place to avoid the usual CDA crowds.

Empty Parkway State Park trail at dusk.
An empty trail at dusk.

Unique to Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park

This park is an excellent place to spot bald eagles. Note: this is a wintertime activity. From November to February, bald eagles descend on the area. Why? Well, Kokanee, a landlocked small sockeye salmon, come to the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene to spawn and die. The eagles come to feast. Apparently, it is not uncommon to count 200+ eagles. Wow.

A little history about Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park

We can thank Washington State for this little trail and state park. It was their state parks system that started planning a trail along the Spokane River. They wanted to create a trail to celebrate Washington state’s centennial in 1989. As neighbors sometimes do, they started coordinating with Idaho to extend the trail in celebration of Idaho’s centennial in 1990. 

Sunset over Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Explore nearby

  • CDA is a wonderful place to explore and is just 15 minutes away from the park. Here are some ideas for killing time in Coeur d’Alene.
  • Heyburn State Park is located less than an hour away, also on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
  • Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes State Park, another trail managed by the Idaho State Park system, can be accessed just 30 minutes to the east.
  • Biking the Route of the Hiawatha Trail should be on your Idaho bucket list. It’s about one hour away and an activity we highly recommend.
  • The rest of the North Idaho Centennial Trail.
  • Farragut State Park is 45 minutes away. It is on Lake Pend Oreille, which is also worth checking out.
  • Old Mission State Park is 30 minutes away.
  • 40 minutes away is Spokane, Washington, which has a decent size airport.

Our experience at Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park

A picnic and a sunset at Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park

Before heading to the park, we swung by Pilgrim’s Market in CDA to pick up some food. That ended up being a really good choice and we arrived at the park just as the sun was beginning to set. There were plenty of parking spaces so we grabbed one and made our way to one of the empty picnic tables. We then enjoyed our food while watching the sun set on Lake Coeur d’Alene. It really was lovely and very peaceful.

Picnic at dusk over Lake Coeur d’Alene
Picnic with a view.

Strolling the Parkway

After dinner, we took a stroll on the Parkway. We walked a mile or so before it started to get dark and we decided to turn around. It was fun to see the houses along the water as well as the private docks. It was not so fun hearing the traffic. The trail runs alongside a busy road and it made for a less-than-peaceful experience. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a stroll, but be prepared for your stroll to be a little noisy.

To be honest, we were a little let down by this park. It didn’t feel like it had as much to offer as some of the other parks and trails. Plus, the noise from the traffic was not enjoyable. However, that being said, we did not experience everything this park has to offer. Perhaps we will give it another shot the next time we are in town.

Conclusion

Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park is an interesting addition to the Idaho State Parks system. As a trail, it pales in comparison to its neighbors. However, its connection to the North Idaho Centennial Trail makes it worthy of a ride. It is not a big park, but it does provide access to Lake Coeur d’Alene and is a good place to get away from CDA’s summertime crowds.

Sunset Lake Coeur d’Alene
Great views from Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park.

Note: we visited Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park as part of our Idaho State Parks Challenge. The challenge consists of visiting all of Idaho’s state parks in one year. We made up this challenge to see a bit more of our beautiful state and help alleviate the restlessness caused by Covid-19 travel restrictions. Feel free to join the challenge!

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