Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail, Idaho
Scenic view trail looks
out over Coeur d'Alene Lake Recreation Area.
From the Bureau of Land Management
Mineral Ridge was the first recreation site developed by the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho. Construction began in 1963, with additions and improvements made in later years. On April 13, 1982, the trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail.
The BLM manages three recreation sites at Coeur d'Alene Lake Recreation Area, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Mineral Ridge, a day use picnic site, serves as a trailhead for the 3.3-mile Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail. This scenic trail, rising 700 feet in elevation, offers hikers a lofty overlook of the lake.
A trail guide brochure for the trail explains the forest environment and the history of mining exploration in this "classroom in the forest." Twenty-two stations along the trail are marked with corresponding narrative descriptions in the booklet, which also includes review questions and answers. Other sections are lists of both plants and animals found at Mineral Ridge and a glossary of place names that highlight the area's mining history.
Following are some selections from the Mineral Ridge Trail Guide along with photos of the trail environment:
Diverse, lush vegetation is the first thing you probably will notice about this forest habitat. The basic requirements for plant growth are mineral nutrients, water, carbon dioxide, light, a medium to grow in such as soil and a tolerable temperature range. With these requirements met, plants manufacture chlorophyll, grow, and reproduce. Trees compose the overstory and shrubs and ground cover plants such as forbs, grasses, moss and lichens compose a vegetation understory. The primary tree species you will notice are ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir.
Douglas- fir ranks first in the United States for timber production; its strong, durable wood has many uses. Common understory shrubs along the trail include ocean-spray, snow-berry, ninebark and wild rose.
The short spur trail to the west leads to an abandoned mine. Prior to 1920, the United States mining laws provided that mineral deposits on federal land were open to exploration and purchase to the person who found them.
Mining laws became more complex as uses for a wider variety of types of minerals developed. Today, claims can still be staked out or located for "hard rock" minerals such as gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. Other minerals such as oil, natural gas and phosphate can be leased and the resources extracted.
Only hard rock mining occurred at Mineral Ridge. Miners came from the East and from the California gold fields when gold was discovered at Prichard, north of Wallace, in 1881. The first recorded claims were filed on Mineral Ridge in 1891.
The scenic point honoring this company is located 1,850 feet northwesterly from Caribou Cabin and is situated at an elevation of 2,824 feet, about 700 feet above lake level. A commanding view of Wolf Lodge Bay and vicinity is offered. Several other viewpoints along the trail corridor provide views of Coeur d'Alene Lake.
Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail is located 11 miles east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Drive I-90 east from CoeurĘd'Alene for 8 miles to the Wolf Lodge Bay exit (exit 22), then south on State Highway 97 for 3 miles. The trailhead is at Mineral Ridge Scenic Area. No overnight camping is allowed at this location.
The popular fishing access site on the east end of Coeur d'Alene Lake has a concrete launching ramp, floating mooring, fishing docks and gravel surfaced parking area. Each winter from November through February a migrating population of 30 to 50 bald eagles visits the area to feed on spawning kokanee salmon. During the peak of the migration from Christmas through the New Year, the BLM conducts interpretive viewing programs.
For More Information: Bureau of Land Management, Coeur d'Alene Field Office, 1808 N. Third Street, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814 - (208) 769-5000
Download the 38-page Mineral Ridge Trail Guide (pdf 863 kb)
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Updated June 28, 2007