Monthly Archives: July 2012

Day 5 – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Part 2 (Kellog to Mullan)

This is going to be a short post since it was not a particularly eventful ride.

To earn my completionist badge, I was determined to ride the last part of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes heading east.  This part of the trail ends in the town of Mullan Idaho after an 15 mile 1000ft ascent.  To make sure that I didn’t miss any of this climb, I started my ride from the town of Kellog Idaho at the bottom of the climb.  It had rained the night before on that part of the trail, and as I drove the 50 miles to Kellog I did get a few drops on my windshield.  Never the less, I was not going to be deterred, and was willing to ride in the rain if necessary to complete the goal.

Kellog ID trailhead

The start of my ride today. The trailhead in Kellog ID


The trail was initially very similar to what I had encountered the previous day.  Kellog is about 50 miles from Plummer on the trail, so I was starting the ride about 25 miles farther up the trail from where I had turned back yesterday.  Unlike the western part of the trail where the trail follows the due of lakes and rivers, the eastern part of the trail mostly follows interstate 90.  This is no nearly as nice of an experience since the vehicles traveling the interstate can be heard from the trail.  One of the best parts of the western part of the trail was the feeling of being in nature.  Often yesterday the only sounds I heard were from the water, local fauna, and my on bicycle.  Today I mostly heard cars.

The ride was fine, and the trail well maintained.  There are essentially two parts to the climb, the almost 1% grade from Kellog to Wallace ID, then a 2-3% grade from Wallace to the end of the trail in Mullan.  Wallace is a nice historic town, and they were having a blues festival this weekend, so I was able to stop for a short break and listen to some live music.  Mullan conversely seemed a dreary place.  The only motels that I saw were rather run down and it appeared to not be a town I would want to stay in overnight (not because of any danger, but because of the complete lack of life ).


Mullan ID Trailhead

End of the road. The trailhead in Mullan ID.

Mullan ID

Mullan ID from the trail

After I hit the Mullan trailhead, I turned back and began the ride back to my car in Kellog.  The ride down was extremely easy.  Heck, the ride up was extremely easy.  The only trouble all day was due to riding 5 days straight, and general fatigue.  As I was packing my car to leave Kellog, I met a gentleman who was visiting the servicemen Monument there.  He told me that his name was on the wall, along with his father and brother.  The monument is dedicated to all of the men and women from the area who have served in the US Armed Forces.

Servicemen Monument

Monument to the area veterans.

I arrived at my car and drove back to Couer d’Alene. As I approached CDA, the rain began coming down in earnest.  I was thankful that it had held off all week.  It stopped shortly when I got to the hotel, but hit me again while I was packing my bike into the travel bag and into the trunk for tomorrows return trip.  It was a nice rain though, big warm drops of water.  I had forgotten what that felt like since we don’tseem to get that sort of rain in San Diego.


Dinner was delicious pulled pork.

I capped the day off with some pulled pork from a local BBQ place.

I want to congratulate and thank anyone who is still reading these posts after 5 days.  I head back to San Diego tomorrow morning, and since I don’t write much when there isn’t anything that I want to write about, this may be the last post for a long time.



Day 4 – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes (Plummer to Medimont)

Today I finally hit the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s.  This trail is a paved route that runs from the town of Plummer ID on the western edge, to the town of Mullan on the East.  The Trail is 73 miles long if ridden from Plummer to Mullan.  After riding 3 days straight, and without a support car to pick me up in Mullan, I decided that the wise course here was to split the trail into 2 installments.  Today I rode the western section (26 miles of it anyway), and on Saturday I will ride the last part of the eastern end.  On the east side, there is a long ascent to Mullan that starts in the town of Kellog and passes through Wallace with the trail (but not the mountain) culminating in the trailhead at Mullan.  But enough about tomorrows planned ride.  This is about today.

I woke again at 6AM (Oddly I am on vacation and am waking up considerably earlier than I do for work), and after a quick shower headed down to the breakfast buffet.  Biscuits and Gravy alongside scrambled eggs was my fuel for today (and a small muffin).  After breaking my fast, I geared up and hit the road to Plummer.

Plummer is about 48 miles south on Hwy 95, so the drive was easy, but locating the trailhead was not (for me at least). I was looking to the left of the road when I got near to Plummer for an indication of the trail since I knew it ran east.  As a result, I must have missed whatever sign there was pointing me to the actual trailhead on the right side (west side) of the road.  Shortly into Plummer, i did see a sign indicating that Hayburn State park was down a road to the left, and that there was a tourist information center there.  I headed down that road, and to the park information center.  This ended up being a great choice.  As I neared the park entrance I saw signs indicating the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes was that way, so following the signs brought me to the park office.  Once in the office I was able to purchase a day parking pass and was directed to a parking log 2.5 miles away where there was a trailhead.

Coeur d'Alene Lake

View of the Lake from my starting position.

Panning shot of the view from the trail


I parked, pulled out my gear and hit the trail.  This is where I made my second fortunate mistake.  When I hit the trail, I went right instead of left since the trail to the right had trees and a slight incline.  This turned out the be fortunate since the trail in that direction was in the direction of the Plummer trailhead.  I road the 7.5 mile 3% grade up the trail to the Plummer entrance, getting to see some beautiful flora and of course riders heading down hill from the Plummer entrance.  I hit Plummer, stopped to check out the memorial then turned back to descend the same 7.5 mile trail back to where I began.  This was an awesome way to start the day since it got the climbing out of the way at the start, and it would be less likely that if I had postponed that section to ride it at the end of my day I would have skipped it, or shortened the ride to conserve strength.  As it was, I was able to commit myself more fully and push a little farther knowing that the entire remaining ride was flat.

Rest stop on the trail between Plummer and My starting point

Rest stop on the trail between Plummer and My starting point.
See my ride for the day.

War memorial at the Plummer Trailhead

War memorial at the Plummer Trailhead

The next section of trail was to the town of Harrison on the lake.  Getting to Harrison meant riding over a bridge spanning the section of the lake where the park was located.  This was a cool bridge to ride.  It consists of a short climb up to a section high enough for the steam boats that used to ply the lake to pass under, then descend back to lake level.  The incline sections are made of short stages similar to if you took wide stairs and connected them with small curvy ramps.  The view from the top of the bridge of the lake was great.  After the bridge, the rest of the 9 mile section to Harrison hugs the lake, passing through sections where private homes exist on one side, and private docks on the lake side.  A variety of flora and fauna can be seen throughout the trail.  I this particular section I rode about 6 feet from a grazing deer on my return trip.

Bridge over the lake

In the distance you can see the bridge spanning this part of the lake.

A Family took the morning to frolic in the lake at the Harrison stop.

I got to Harrison in good time.  Since this is a tour, I kept the speed low, trying to stay under 15mph as much as possible.  Even so I ended up startling one pair of women cyclists who were cruising side by side on the trail.  They hadn’t seen another rider for awhile, and when I called out that I would like to pass on the left, they both jumped a little.  We all had a laugh at that, and I headed on to Harrison.  In Harrison there is a lille bike “shop” where if you are very desperate you could probably get a quick repair.  I didn’t stop there, but I would guess that most of their business is in tubes.  I took a break in Harrison for about 5 minutes, then continued on to the next town down trail 11 miles away.

One of the locals who frequent the trail.

Mike is one of the more colorful local who frequent the trail. If you see him say hi.

Shortly after leaving Harrison, I came across what I initially mistook to be a statue, but when I got closer found out that it was in fact Mike.  Mike is a local resident of the town of Worley ID, about 6 miles north of Plummer.  Mike was sitting pretty close to immobile watching a trio of eagles in a nest across the water.  I stopped and chatted with Mike for awhile and learned that he tries to ride the trail every day, and that his goal is to ride 500 miles of the trail this year, although most of it will be the same 10 mile stretch.  If you ride the trail, you may see Mike.

Leaving Mike to his bird watching, I continued on down the trail heading for the Medimont trailhead where I was planning to turn around.  the entire day on the trail I never felt crowded, but I also never felt alone.  There weren’t any instances where I was passed unless I was taking a break to photograph something or talk with another tourist, but I saw plenty of people both singly and in groups riding the opposite direction, and did overtake a few cruising groups as well.  This is a very laid back trail, where there is no posted speed limit, but the rules of the trail dictate right of way to the slower traffic.  Since the trail is very smooth, it is very easy to increase speed, but since it is so flat, you need to be almost constantly pedaling to maintain it.  One odd visual illusion of the long flat trail is that you always get the impression that it is a very gradual descent, but this is an optical lie.  If you stop pedaling, you will start to drop speed, and eventually will come to a stop.

Once I got to Medimont, I stopped to eat what was left of my Cliff Bar as a pseudo lunch.  I had ridden 34 miles by then, and fuel was definitely needed for the 20 mile trip back to my car.  Food in my belly, I turned back to see if I could make it home.

View of lake from Medimont

The view from the bench I rested on at the Medimont trailhead was pretty good too.

The ride back was hampered slightly by a slight head wind.  I hadn’t noticed a tail wind on the way out, and the head wind was probably only about 2mph, so mainly it served to keep me cool.  By this time the temperature had reached 90 and since it had rained the previous night, the humidity was noticeable.  The ride back to Harrison was uneventful.  Once in Harrison, I stopped again to stretch and while cooling off in the shade met Neal.  Neal is in his seventies, and he and his wife were staying in Idaho for a few months to escape the heat of their Phoenix summer.

Neal, a tourist up from Phoenix AZ

Neal is in his seventies, has had a heart bypass and several stents, but still rides a few miles when he can.

One of the things I have liked about this trip has been the chance to interact with new people.  There is something about cycling that creates an instant icebreaker and folks just seem to want to chat.  The other nice thing is that you have a built in excuse to break off the conversation if it gets boring.  You just say that you need to press on, and nobody has hurt feelings.

Picnic tables

Restrooms and Picnic tables are scattered across the trail. The ground around the trail contains heavy metal poisoning so eating at the tables is required.

The trip from Harrison to my car was just as flat and scenic as the rest of the trail had been, and despite having a great ride and seeing some beautiful vistas, I was happy to see my car in the lot, load it up and head for the hotel and a shower.


Day 3 – Route of the Hiawatha Trail

Today I rode the famous Route of the Hiawatha trail.  This trail has been written about in Bicycling magazine and is listed as one of the top 20 trails to ride.  It is far from a technical ride.  It is actually treated more as a tour, with the only actually physically challenging part being the optional ride back up the trail to the trail head.

The day started with breakfast of course.  I have been staying at the Amerital Inn in Couer d’Alene and have been very happy with the accommodations.  The room is large and well maintained.  The only ding would be the archaic television.  At this level of hotel I really expect a flat screen and not a standard definition CRT.  Otherwise, the hotel is pretty nice.  The room has a king size bed, couch, desk, small refrigerator and microwave.  There is a free breakfast buffet included, and the buffet changes daily, but always has some kind of eggs and meat, as well as a make your own waffle station.  Since I have been riding every day, I have partaken of the waffles as a limited fuel source.  I mention the hotel here since I have not mentioned it in any previous posts.  It is located close to the I-90 and Hwy 95, which for this trip is great as it is a short ride to the previously described Centennial Trail, and the other 3 trails are either started from an exit of the I-90, or from Hwy 95.  Since CDA is fairly small, it is only a five minute drive to the heart of the city as well.

After breakfast I drove down to the Row Adventures office in the city to pick up my bike.  Since this was going to be a long and hot day, I arranged to pick up the bike around 7:30 when Libby would be in the office, rather than wait until the rental office opened at 9:30.  Libby and David were a great help and I have nothing but good things to say about Row Adventures.

Photo of David and Libby from Row Adventures

David and Libby from Row Adventures in Coeur d’Alene

I drove from CDA to Lookout Pass Ski Area (Exit 0 in Montana) to buy my trail pass, then pass and directions in hand, I drove to the East Portal trail head (the top) of the trail.

East Portal Trailhead of the Route of the Hiawatha

East Portal Trailhead

I easily found a parking spot.  Despite what I thought was an early start, there were a fair number of vehicles already in the lot, as well as many others getting ready for their ride.  I proceeded to remove the bike from my car and prepare it for the ride.  The bike I rented was a Hybrid, rather than a Mountain bike.  I chose this option since if I were to use one of the organized tours, I would likely want a hybrid for the flat paved trails, and from my research, this trail was expected to be fine.  (spoiler, it was fine, but there were stretches where the knobby tires of a mountain bike may have been nice).  In total honesty, I did have one issue with the rental bike.  When I checked the tire pressure, they were both a little low, and when I pumped up the front tire, the stem broke off in the tube.  Conveniently though, I had my tools with me and Row had provided me 2 spare tubes, so I could fix the one I had, and still have a backup if anything occurred on the trail.

While I was prepping my bike, I ended up assisting a few others with theirs (the danger of breaking out a tool box), but this is par for the course in the cycling community.  You never pass someone by without determining if they need assistance or not.

Bike ready, sun screen applied and water topped off, I started for the entrance to the trail.  The trail starts off at the mouth of an almost 2 mile long tunnel that has no lighting.  I had prepared for this (or so I thought) by bringing with me two different lights.  I quickly found upon entering the tunnel that these were far from adequate to the task.  I cashed out some Karma though, as one of the groups I had assisted in the parking lot came up ready to go through the tunnel themselves, and they had bright head lights and helmet lights.  I trailed along after them through the tunnel and found it to be an interesting (although wet and dirty) experience.  I vowed internally to make sure that I look for a group to go through with on the way back.

Tunnel Mouth at the East Portal

Mouth of the tunnel at the East Portal trail entry.

Friendly fellow trail riders

The source of my light in the Taft Tunnel

Once through the tunnel, I emerged back into the sunlit world to some of the most beautiful scenery I had seen yet.

Waterfall at the exit of the Taft Tunnel

Waterfall at the exit of the Taft Tunnel

Once outside the tunnel, I proceeded down the trail.  At this point the trail is actually a fire road, shared with the shuttle buses that ferry riders up from the bottom of the trail, as well as limited parking for trail riders who want to bypass the Taft tunnel.  It isn’t the best scenery of the ride, but just looking around, you are surrounded by mountains on all sides, and looking down from the edge you can’t help but be impressed by the views.

Vistas near the East Portal

Purple Mountains Majesty

The trail itself goes on for 15 miles.  From the East Portal, the trail is almost always descending, with a few places where it ascends slightly before descending again as it bypasses a sealed off tunnel (Closed due to instability from being on a fault line).  There are numerous short tunnels on the trail, and several trestle bridges that the riders traverse.

Me standing on a trestle bridge

Our intrepid adventurer on a trestle bridge.

Smarter rider on Trestle Bridge

A rider smarter than me. She started her ride from the bottom of the trail.

Although I started out riding the trail alone, and in fact rode alone the majority of the time, I did encounter several other riders throughout the ride.  This is a slow ride by design, with the emphasis being on viewing the scenery, so the same faces kept appearing at the various stops.  I didn’t mention the stops yet.  The trail is a ride through the history of the Milwaukee Road between Illinois and Washington.  This train route was one of the important early railways, and throughout the trail there are stop points (about 3 per mile) with information about the trains that ran on the tracks, and the building and history of that particular spur.

2 Riders from Florida

Riders came from as far away as Florida.

Picture of an information kiosk

Information kiosks dot the trail.

The trip toward the Pearson trailhead (at the bottom) was as easy as you could ask for.  The gravel presented more of a psychological challenge for some riders on the way down, but also serves to provide a crude speed control and a sense of connection that would be lost if the trail were paved. I’m sure that if they thought about it, the families riding with small children would appreciate that a 3% slope if it were paved could result in out of control children careening over the side.

At the half-way point of the trail, there is a fresh water cooler (ice water!) before entering a short tunnel, and a bathroom on the far end of the tunnel.  The second half of the trail has many of the same views seen previously, but now if you look back and up, you can see people riding across some of the same trestle bridges that you just passed over.  The gravel is much looser and the going a bit harder as a result on this half.  I spoke with one of the Trail Marshals and learned that when they went to open the trail at the beginning of the year, there were several 20ft. sink holes on the lower part of the trail that had to be filled in.  As a result, the gravel and rock used had not yet been ridden over enough to pack it down.  For folks descending, this isn’t too much of a bother.  During the ascent, it did present a bit of a challenge, making the riding similar to running in sand.  I continued down trail to the end at the Pearson trailhead, where another bathroom awaited, as well as the shuttle buses to ride back to the Taft Tunnel (riders must ride through the tunnel after exiting the buses).  Being a he-man stud, I had committed myself to riding back up the 15 miles 1000ft ascent rather than take the easy way.  The descent had taken me almost 2 hours, but I had ridden slowly and stopped at most of the information kiosks.  I anticipated that the ascent on the loose gravel surface would take me about 2 hours (and I was right).

The ascent was mostly uneventful.  One thing to be aware of on this trail is that many (most?) of the people riding down the trail do not ride bikes normally.  Add to that the presence of children, and many (I think 8) dark tunnels (all but the taft are fairly short, but one of them does have a turn in it, so the light at the end is not visible) and you have a recipe for possible collisions.  By keeping alert, and hollering occasionally when a descender was too occupied looking around at the trees and valleys to notice that they were about to run into you make the ascent mostly uneventful.  Unlike on the descent, those who ascend mainly will ascend with the group they came with, so if you came alone, you will ascend alone.  There is an advantage to ascending alone.  A single rider is much quieter than a group, and by being quiet, I was able to see a large doe at one point but she bolted off when she noticed me.  Otherwise, the fauna most seen is a small squirrel looking animal (not a squirrel or chipmunk but similar).  If you ride this trail, be especially careful when riding through the tunnels if you ride the trail from Pearson to Taft.  Children will steer their bikes right at you when they see your light.  Inattentive adults will just not see you.

I made it to the top of the trail at about 3PM ( I forgot when I left that Montana was in Mountain Time, so for me it was 2PM).  As I approached the Taft Tunnel, I was planning to wait for the next shuttle bus of riders to arrive so that I could navigate the tunnel in a group.  As it turned out, one of the Trail Marshals offered to loan me another light, and even better, as I was waiting in the mouth of the tunnel, another Trail Marshal came up who was riding through himself.  His light was dead, so I gave him the light I had borrowed and together we rode through the 2 miles of stygian blackness to the East Portal and my car.

The rest of the day was uneventful.  I wiped down the bike before putting it in my car (it was completely mud splattered), drove back to CDA and returned the bike.  A shower at the hotel later, and I headed out to Capone’s again for dinner. Normally I would avoid eating at the same place 2 days in a row on travel, but the food was good, the beer cold, and there was still one item on the menu that had been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, and I was determined to complete that achievement.

Capone's Restaurant CDA

Capone’s Restaurant. Beer is good!

Tour of the Couer d’Alene’s Day 2

The Ride

After the 55 mile west bound trek on Day 1, I planned for a shorter recovery ride on Day 2 before hitting the Hiawatha Trail on Day 3.  Day 2 would pick up the Northern Idaho Centennial trail at the trail head where I exited the previous day, and head east until the trail ended.  This leg of the trail is a mix of Class 1 trail, Class 2 (bike lane) trail, and a “mixed trail” involving sidewalks.

The trail picked up at River Run Park

Statue of woman biking

From the park, the trail follows the Spokane River east to the Coeur d’Alene Lake in the heart of the city.  Once into the city center, the trail presents an option to follow the path along the lake, or divert around the park for more distance.  I chose to take the more direct path along the lake, which at 8:30AM was lightly populated.

Lake Coeur d'AleneCoeur d'Alene City Park

Following the path/sidewalk, eventually it picks up again as a class 1 path and continues along the lake.  The scenery on this ride is great, with the lake on the right, and mountains in the distance.  The path is well maintained and populated with other cyclists and hikers.  There is a climb 9 miles into the ride, but easily managed and over with in less than a mile.  The trail winds around the lake and eventually terminates at Higgen’s Point where a there is a small park.

The trail along the lake presents many opportunities beyond cycling.  There are many locations to descend to the lake itself for fishing, and during one stretch of the trail there are fitness stations provided creating an exercise course.

The return trip was pleasant and uneventful, and on the whole the day was a great recovery ride following the Day 1 exertion.

After returning to the hotel and hitting the gym, I showered and went to Row Adventure Center ( to finalize my bike rental for Day 3.

I topped off the day with a trip to Capone’s for dinner.  Featured in the show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, I found this place using yelp and satisfied my hunger with a Widmer Hefeweizen, their “Ultimate Cheeseburger” and garlic fries.  The beer and food were awesome and the day well spent.

Tomorrow I will tackle the famous Hiawatha Trail, where I get to ride through a 1.5 mile tunnel.


Tour of the Coeur d’Alene’s Day 1

The Ride
Today I rode my 2008 Trek Madone Road bike 55 miles from Coeur d’Alene ID to about 8 miles into Washington.
The ride was along the Northern Idaho Centenial Trail on the Idaho side, and onto the Spokane River Centenial Trail in WA.
The ride from the trail entry to Post Falls ID was very pleasant.  The trail is well maintained and the abundance of trees provides a nice amount of shade.
It helped that this part of the ride was early in the day (around 8AM) as the temperatures had not yet risen to the 97F they would reach by mid afternoon.
The trail entry can be confusing to find since they are not readily marked on google maps.  There is a misleading adjacent trail near the Centenial, but whereas the Centenial trail is paved, the nearby trail is a mix of dirt and gravel.  I met a gentleman as I rode from my Hotel to the trail entry who was kind enough to direct me toward the entry. The best tip I can give here is to remember that the trail is on the North side of the river in Coeur d’Alene.
Map and Rules for the Centennial Trail
I encountered Post Falls (The town immediately to the west of Coeur d’Alene) after about 11 miles and was dismayed to see the nice separate paved trail dump out onto common roads at a major intersection.  A sign at the intersection directed that the trail continued across the intersection, picking up in 1850 ft.  I rode across the intersection using the cross walks as directed, and started down the indicated road.  After not seeing a trail head entry after about a mile, I tried experimenting with some of the residential side streets, hoping to find a local resident who may be able to direct me to the trail entry like the earlier gentleman had.  Eventually I was able to query a driver who stopped and ended up turning back to reacquire the trail at the last point I was sure that I was on it.  trying again, and paying very close attention to spot the small trail marker signs, I realized that on this side of the freeway I had crossed, the “trail” is actually a bike path on the common road.  (I later learned from reading one of the signs on the trail that they designate both class 1 and class 2 trails, with class 1 being the completely separate trail and a class 2 being a bike path painted on the common road).
I attempted to follow the “trail” through Post Falls, but missed the class 1 trail entry just past the Post Office.  Assuming that eventually the trail had to pick up again near the interstate to the west, I followed a frontage road for awhile.  Eventually I was able to reacquire the trail near the west end of Post Falls.  On that section of trail I met a very nice older woman named Shirley who was walking the trail (or at least part of it).  After a brief conversation with her, I learned that the remainder of the trail would be mainly class 1, with a few inconvenient transitions at intersections.  The inconvenient transitions were sometimes very nerve racking as the trail would end at a sidewalk and the rider forced to ride a way on the pedestrian sidewalk until reaching the intersection.  Despite this, I must say that although at the time, in comparison to the Class 1 trail prior to Post Falls, this is a nice and pretty safe route, using for the most part lightly utilized residential roads and routing around the heavy traffic areas.  For an urban trail
it is not bad.
After returning to the full class 1 trail, I began to feel quite relaxed.  The ability to ride on a trail completely away from cars is awesome. The trail is far from unused.  I encountered many groups of families riding, individuals riding and folks walking the trail.  Since the speed limit on the trail is 15mph, and I was going essentially the speed limit, I only saw people heading the opposite direction, but the mainly flat trail, with short staggered inclines where necessary make this ride very friendly for riders of pretty much any level (adjust distance to your cycling fitness level).  The ride from Post Falls to the Washington/Idaho border is not very picturesque.
There isn’t much tree coverage on that stretch, and most of the trail hugs the interstate, so the views are rather bland.  This would be a bigger problem later in the day during my return ride when the temperatures had risen into the mid nineties and the lack of shade on the trail along with the general fatigue really took its tool.
Crossing into Washington, things got interesting. Shortly after the border, the trail appeared to split off, one path continuing straight, and the other bearing off to the right and back.  Again this is completely my fault for over thinking since had I just followed the path to the right, where a sign indicated that there was a trail information area, I would have saved myself about 4 miles. Instead, I continued forward and after crossing a small bridge, saw markings on the pavement that told me I was now entering the Liberty Lake Stateline Trail.  I followed this trail for 1.8 miles until it ended at Appleway Rd.  At this point I turned back, and could see off in the distance a small family riding what appeared to be another trail on the other side of the interstate.  I rode back to the branch point, and made the decision that I was here to ride, so rather than head back to the hotel, I took the other path and was glad to have done it.
The Washington side of the Centenial trail is called the Spokane River Centenial Trail.  The start of the trail for me was at the state line where it took over for the Northern Idaho Centenial Trail.  About 2 miles in, after crossing a road, and riding on the “wrong” side of another road where a very wide section is marked (look close, the markings are quite worn) as the bike trail, you get to one of the many rest areas.  This rest area has a large parking lot (well large enough), some shade trees and picnic tables, and bathrooms.  I stopped for a break at this rest area since I had ridden 25 miles by then, and took advantage of the situation to adjust my shoe cleat.  One of these days I will get that adjusted right and my rides will be much more pleasant.
I continued the westward trek on what first was a repurposed frontage road (restricted to non-motorized vehicles) and then quickly became a very nice class 1 trail.  The first few miles into WA have just as little cover as the last 5 in Idaho, but eventually that changes for the better.  About 3 miles in, I encountered another trail head, and almost immediately after, the trails begins to become incredible.  The Spokane River Centenial Trail hugs the Spokane River.  There is plenty of tree cover, and great views of the river.
The trail is pretty well maintained, and in the places where tree roots have made incursions and pushed up the pavement, someone has taken the effort to outline them with orange paint.  If I had not already been running hot getting to this stretch of trail, I may have tried to push through to Spokane.  As it was, I had started the ride with 1 gallon of water between my camelback and 2 bottles (the bottles were an electrolyte mix), so I had to turn back after I reached 30 miles on my odometer to make sure that I would have enough fuel for the return trip.
The return trip was at times painful, mainly from the heat that had been rising throughout the day.  By the time I turned back, it was around noon, and the temperature was well into the nineties.  I followed the same route back (without the 4 mile boondoggle) and had a much easier time following the various trail parts through Post Falls.
Rest Areas
The trail, both the Idaho and Washington sides are well served with rest areas.  In Idaho the trail connects with one of the I-90 rest stops, while in WA there are restrooms at the various trail entry points.
Bike Selection
For this trip, I chose to bring my Road Bike.  This will be supplemented with a Hybrid bike rental on the day that I ride the Hiawatha Trail since it is gravel and not paved.  Since the speed limit on the Centenial trail is 15 mph (violated by a few riders, but they seemed the exception), there is no real advantage to using a road bike, and the more comfortable upright position of a Hybrid probably makes it a better choice for this trail.