Idaho’s Silver Valley is known for its rich mining history and rugged landscape. With 87% of Shoshone County classified as “forest uplands” and less than 1% as urban or developed, the Silver Valley is an ideal place for the outdoor enthusiast to explore.
The Route of the Hiawatha
The Route of the Hiawatha is a fifteen-mile long, non-motorized rail trail with ten train tunnels and seven sky-high trestles. The most famous of which is the 1.6 mile Taft Tunnel, which travels underneath the Bitterroot Mountains. This family-friendly trail offers stunning scenery and an easy downhill ride with shuttle access back uphill. Trail passes and mountain bike rentals are available at the Lookout Pass Ski Area located off of I-90 at the Idaho-Montana state line. The Route of the Hiawatha is open daily through September 24. For more information visit http://www.ridethehiawatha.com/.
Ride the Gondola
Silver Mountain’s scenic 3.1 mile gondola ride is the longest in North America. Cabins comfortably fit six and travel over the town of Wardner before gaining 3,400 feet to Kellogg Peak. From the gondola bay you can hike to the Kellogg Peak Fire Lookout, a replica of the original 1934 fire tower built by the Forest Service. This 1.85-mile one way trail offers spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. http://www.silvermt.com/Summer/Scenic-Gondola-Rides.
Downhill Mountain Biking at Silver Mountain
Silver Mountain’s bike park is rated the best in the Northwest three years running and offers trails for everyone with wide doubletrack, mellow singletrack, and plenty of jumps for the bold. Choose between 800 feet of lift-served biking or bike the 3,400 feet to the base of the mountain. Bike rentals are available through the Sport’s Shop located in the Gondola Village. After spending the day on the trails, stop by Kellogg’s newest brewery, Radio Brewing. Combing beer and old-time radio, this brewery has received high praise from locals. http://www.silvermt.com/Summer/Mountain-Biking.
Unsurprisingly, the Silver Valley gets its name from the mining industry the town was built upon. Experience this history first-hand with a tour through a hard rock mine. Choose between the Sierra Silver Mine, downtown Wallace, or the Crystal Gold Mine, just east of Kellogg. Learn the difference between hard rock mines, coal mines and shaft, drift and slope mining. Mines are a cool 64 degrees, so be sure to wear appropriate clothing. After visiting the mines consider taking a trip to the nearby Sunshine Mine Memorial. The memorial commemorates the 91 miners who lost their lives in the 1972 Sunshine Mine disaster that devastated the Silver Valley’s mining industry.
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a 73-mile paved bike trail between Mullan and Plummer. The trail passes by Silver Mountain Resort and Lake Coeur d’Alene before heading south through farmland. There are twenty trailheads and plenty of areas to stop and picnic, making this trail ideal for families. https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/trail-coeur-d-alenes.
Fishing the North Fork of the CDA
The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River offers easy access, stunning emerald green water and a healthy population of cutthroat trout from Memorial Day weekend through October. In addition to trout, moose, elk and hawks are frequently seen in the area. http://www.outtheremonthly.com/a-small-slice-of-fly-fishing-heaven-the-north-fork-of-the-cda-river/.
Because the majority of the Silver Valley is comprised of forested land, there are plenty of great hikes in the area. Local favorites include the Shadow Falls Trail, Crystal Lake and the historic Pulaski Tunnel Trail. Shadow Falls is a 20-25 foot waterfall near Kingston. A rustic, split log footbridge provides hikers access behind the waterfall. At only 1.2 miles roundtrip, this out-and-back trail sees heavy foot traffic. On the other hand, the lesser-known 3-mile round-trip hike to Crystal Lake provides stunning views of the valley and nearby mountains. The trail begins at the Sheep Springs camping area near St Maries, south of Cataldo, and looses approximately 200 feet in elevation. Located in Wallace, the four-mile roundtrip Pulaski Tunnel Trail follows the escape route taken by Pulaski and his men during the 1910 fires. The trail ends at an overlook across from the Nicholson mine adit, also known as the Pulaski Tunnel.
Downtown Wallace is the self-described “center of the universe,” and is known for its museums, which include the Northern Pacific Depot Museum, Oasis Bordello Museum and Wallace District Mining Museum. Visit the museums before grabbing a bite to eat or a beer from the Wallace Brewing Company or City Limits Grill.
Scenic drive over Moon Pass
Moon Pass connects Wallace to the small town of Avery and follows the original Route of the Hiawatha. The road is narrow and passes through a number of old railroad tunnels. While the road is open to vehicular traffic, it is a popular cycling route, so if you’re driving, keep please be aware of bikers.
Silver Streak Zipline Tours
Set in the mountains above Wallace, Silver Streak Zipline Tours offers a thrilling ride with ten zips ranging from 325 feet to 1,800 feet in length. Experience the adrenaline rush while watching nature speed by at up to 60 miles per hour. http://www.silverstreakziplinetours.com. //