At just over 3000 feet altitude, snow-sufficiency can be hit or miss at the Fourth of July Recreation area. When there’s enough, this is a convenient and popular cross-country skiing and snowshoeing area, located just minutes from I-90. The trail system south of the freeway is entirely reserved for non-motorized recreation, and some of the trails are groomed for tracked cross-country skiing.
|Location||Coeur d’Alene Mountains|
|Rating||2.5 out of 5|
|Duration||1:28 hours moving time (cross-country skiing)|
|Elevation Gain||383 feet|
|High Point||3,290 feet|
|Low Point||2,943 feet|
|Trailbed||Decommissioned fire road|
|Administration||Coeur d’Alene National Forest|
|Permits||Park n Ski permit required for parking during winter months|
|Camping||There is a warming hut near the trailhead and a shelter at the halfway point. There are pit toilets at the trailhead and at the halfway-point shelter|
|Trailhead||Take I-90 exit #28 (Fourth of July Recreation Area) and head south for half a mile. Follow the lower road to the ski trailhead. The ski trail starts at the back of the parking lot, to the right.
Google Directions (47.621046, -116.531369)
|Squirrel Density||Out in droves because Naughty wasn’t there… (dogs are not allowed on the groomed triails)|
|Date||December 23, 2016|
The first part of the trail is called Havin’ Fun and follows an old logging road past a warming hut, meanders uphill, past snowmobile sheds, and levels off among filtered views of the surrounding hillsides. The trail then declines slightly towards the intersection with Loose Moose.
Bear right, staying on Havin’ Fun, as the trail drops further, skirting a large clearing (which it will cross again higher up later). The trail bottoms out around the 2-mile mark, then rises and curves around in a large sweeping bend called The Swoop and comes to a T-intersection with Elderberry and High Road. Here you will find the Peaceful View shelter and pit toilets, at roughly the same altitude as the trailhead.
Take a right and follow Elderberry for a quarter-mile, then take the short spur to the right that leads to an outlook over the surrounding hills. The trail isn’t exactly blessed with views, so this is a worthwhile detour!
Return to Peaceful View and take the High Road, which contours uphill towards the clearing. It emerges onto the clearing at the upper edge and offers what are likely the best views. Moose also favor this spot, so watch out. The trail continues up at a manageable incline to an intersection with Loose Moose (around the 4-mile mark). Take a left onto Loose Moose and follow it back to Havin’ Fun. From there it’s about a mile back to the trailhead.
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- Continue on Elderberry and return via Eagle Run and Skywalker
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