Coeur d’Alene North Fork River Loop

The Coeur d’Alene River National Recreation Trail (#20) is easily one of the nicest hikes in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. It follows the playfully-meandering North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River for about 15 miles through coniferous forest and conveniently connects to area trails to create this 26 mile loop.

Location Coeur d’Alene Mountains
Rating 3.9 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (a few uphill sections; river fording)
Distance 25.4 miles
Duration 13:01 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 3,291 feet
High Point 4,451 feet (Ridge near Devil Peak)
Low Point 2,756 feet (Coeur d’Alene River at trail’s end)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed Packed dirt, forest roads
Water There is frequent access to the river and there are many tributaries
Status National Recreation Trail
Administration Coeur d’Alene National Forest
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent along the Coeur d’Alene River. There were some blowdowns on trail 309, though, and the stretch along Devil Creek was essentially a bushwhack.
Camping There are primitive campgrounds at Jordan Camp and Beaver Work Center (Marten Creek). We camped at the west end of Devil Creek and at Jordan Camp.
Maps USGS Cathedral Peak, Jordan Creeek
Trailhead Take I-90 exit #43 (Kingston) and head north on Coeur d’Alene River Road (FH9) for 23 miles. Continue straight, as the road turns into NF-208, for another over 25 miles. There is paved parking (left side of road) where Coeur d’Alene River NRT #20 meets NF-208 or park further along the road where FT 309 starts; there is a small gravel lot (right side of road) for a couple of vehicles.

Google Directions (47.882954, -116.13133)

Season May – October
Squirrel Density Fabulous
Features Riverwalk, Grove, Meadow
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 77.9 miles
  • Lewiston 193.6 miles
  • Sandpoint 63.5 miles
  • Seattle 387.2 miles
  • Spokane 109.4 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date July 5, 2016

It took a bit over a year of constant nagging, cajoling, begging, insisting, and threatening to finally get the Scribe to write up a trip report for this magnificent backpacking trip into the wilds of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains! I even went on a hunger strike, which I was able to sustain for almost 10 minutes.

Anyway, this is one of the prettiest hikes in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, and almost entirely non-motorized. We did want to turn it into a loop, which required the use of a few trails that allow motorbikes and a short section of forest service road. If you do the hike clockwise you’ll get those sections out of the way first.

Trail #309Start by parking at the trailhead to the Coeur d’Alene River National Recreation Trail #20 and hike about a mile alongside FR #208 to the trailhead to trail #309, which heads uphill at a steady incline and shortly reaches a ridge. The old route of trail #20 branched off from this point, lead downhill and across the river, but this was completely rerouted to the east side of the river. Therefore, turn left (west) and follow the ridge uphill, a nice hike among tufts of beargrass and swathes of huckleberries. The ridge is forested, but in the higher reaches it does upon up a bit for some nice views of more trees.

Views off ridge near helipadAs you approach Amethyst Peak, the path turns northwards and downhill the other side to a crossing of Cataract Creek. That crossing is a bit overgrown and it is all too easy to continue down the creek, but trail #309 heads steeply uphill almost right away, climbing a ridge towards a helipad (around the 5-mile mark) with sweeping views and ornery elk in the woods. Within less than a mile you end up on FR #3099.

Hiking on FR #3099. Met neither traffic nor hikers on this sectionFR #3099 isn’t as bad as it sounds for we didn’t meet any cars or people at all along this stretch, and it makes for easy hiking. Make sure you stay on #3099 all the way to Devil Creek. There are two forks, at the first you take a left, and at the second you take a right. Devil Creek is reached at the 10-mile mark and is good spot to set up camp. At least, it was good enough for us. There is an overgrown and buggy site south of the river, and a rather pretty one, including a small bench and nice tent pads a bit up the Devil Creek trail. We chose that one. There is also beaver activity around Devil Creek, but we didn’t see wet hombres.

Devil CreekUnfortunately, it started to rain overnight and continued to drizzle well into the morning. Adding insult to injury, Devil Creek trail #56 hasn’t seen any trail maintenance in a long, long time. It was mostly a bushwhack through wet and dripping shrubbery to the convergence with the Coeur d’Alene North Fork. Fording the Coeur d’Alene proved easier than anticipated, and our spirits lifted. The National Recreation Trail on the other side was in good conditions and we were able to pick up the speed.

Coeur dAlene River. We only forded it once.The trail parallels the river, sometimes moving up the flanks of the hills for a bit, then approaching the water again. Vegetation usually is very thick near the river and the trail sometimes boggy. All said, these next 5 miles are some of the prettiest. Then you get to an elbow where Deer Creek creates a swampy delta that is difficult to navigate. You’re going to have to follow the Coeur d’Alene River one way or another, and it will involve a bit of bushwhacking and likely some wet feet.

View of CdA River elbowThe river continues eastwards for a bit longer, with the trail climbing the hillside to the Alden Creek fork. Stay on #20, which now changes direction due south. You’ll spot sprawling campsites on the other side of the river, but there is no need to ford it. Soon you’ll hit on Jordan Creek Road #412 and a convenient bridge makes crossing the river at the 18-mile marker a piece of pie. There are lots of campsites at Jordan Camp, but you may have to share with car campers. We found a nice site at the south end and our only neighbors were far away at the north end (we couldn’t even see them, but heard the popping of guns…).

Castle RockFrom Jordan Camp it is just 7 miles back to the trailhead, past magnificent rock formations (Castle Rock), and those miles had seen some very recent trail maintenance. Mostly the trail stays in the forest above the river, with frequent viewpoints, but there are a few locations where you can go down to the river for a cooling swim. 

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Trail #309
Trail #309
Naughty on trail #309
Naughty on trail #309
Views off ridge from helipad near FR #3099
Views off ridge from helipad near FR #3099
Views off ridge near helipad
Views off ridge near helipad
Hiking on FR #3099. Met neither traffic nor hikers on this section
Hiking on FR #3099. Met neither traffic nor hikers on this section
Our first campsite on Devil Creek
Our first campsite on Devil Creek
A tributary of Devil Creek
A tributary of Devil Creek
Devil Creek
Devil Creek
First views of the Coeur dAlene River
First views of the Coeur d’Alene River
Rock formations along CdA River
Rock formations along CdA River
Marshy area near river
Marshy area near river
Coeur dAlene River. We only forded it once.
Coeur d’Alene River. We only forded it once.
Rapids in Coeur dAlene River
Rapids in Coeur d’Alene River
Coeur dAlene River
Coeur d’Alene River
Coeur dAlene River valley
Coeur d’Alene River valley
Lots of pretty flowers
Lots of pretty flowers
Many of the stepping stones were overgrown
Many of the stepping stones were overgrown
Lush groves of trees close to the river
Lush groves of trees close to the river
There are many tributaries to cross and most are easy
There are many tributaries to cross and most are easy
Looking down on CdA River
Looking down on CdA River
The obligatory carcass, buried in an ant hill
The obligatory carcass, buried in an ant hill
A waterfall in a tributary to the Coeur dAlene River
A waterfall in a tributary to the Coeur d’Alene River
Looking backwards along Coeur dAlene River
Looking backwards along Coeur d’Alene River
Coeur dAlene River flood plain
Coeur d’Alene River flood plain
View of CdA River elbow
View of CdA River elbow
There are many marshy areas where the river frequently changes course
There are many marshy areas where the river frequently changes course
Marsh
Marsh
Island in CdA River
Island in CdA River
CdA River near Jordan Camp
CdA River near Jordan Camp
Yours truly, taking a break
Yours truly, taking a break
Freshly groomed trail
Freshly groomed trail
Castle Rock
Castle Rock
More Castle Rock
More Castle Rock
CdA River shortly past Castle Rock
CdA River shortly past Castle Rock
The trail ebbs and flows along the river
The trail ebbs and flows along the river
Rock formations along the river
Rock formations along the river
View across the river
View across the river
Naughty
Naughty
Pretty single track. Easy hiking
Pretty single track. Easy hiking
Naughty hiking
Naughty hiking
Looking back upriver
Looking back upriver
Looking back upriver
Looking back upriver
Snake
Snake
Looking downriver
Looking downriver
View of the CdA River flood plain
View of the CdA River flood plain
That would make a great campsite!
That would make a great campsite!
Whos ready for a swim?
Who’s ready for a swim?
The water was icy cold
The water was icy cold
Near trails end
Near trail’s end
Naughty is not deterred by cold water
Naughty is not deterred by cold water
Trails end
Trail’s end
Alternate Routes

  • Do an out-and-back as far as you want on the Coeur d’Alene River trail (#20). It’ll go all the way to Big Meadows (Marten Creek). The trail is very well maintained, at least to the Alden Creek Trail.
  • Connect to the Alden Creek or Blacktail Creek trails in the elbow of the Coeur d’Alene River

© 2016 – 2017 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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