Drifting down the clear water, along the timbered shores of this stretch, a paddler might find it hard to imagine the dichotomies that history has brought together in the Coeur d’Alene River: native cutthroat trout against insensitive logging and mining; the long-gone Snakepit brothel at Enaville, Idaho, against the still-standing Jesuit Indian mission near Cataldo. Legacies good and bad live here. Be sure to visit Old Mission State Park, but don’t swim or play in the dirt at the Mission Flats take-out. The area is contaminated with heavy metals from a century of Silver Valley mining.
Normally, however, the river gets a Class 1 rating, with no serious rapids. The river from Enaville to Cataldo generally parallels roads, but swings away for stretches of solitude. The paved Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes also parallels this stretch, offering bike shuttle options. The river holds splashy riffles for play, plus a few tight turns to test paddling skills.
© Verne Huser, Rich Landers, Dan Hansen, and Doug North/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.