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Efforts to maintain North Idaho Centennial Trail underway

Renovations include the 23 miles of paved path from the Idaho/Washington state line eastward beyond Coeur d’Alene to Higgens Point.
Credit: Coeur d'Alene Press
Walkers exchange greetings on the North Idaho Centennial Trail on Sunday.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation is forging ahead with efforts to maintain and improve what is considered one of the region's greatest assets, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

"We advocate for all things trail," said Tim Keaty, trail foundation president and board member during the organization's annual meeting Thursday night at Vantage Point Brewing Company.

That includes the 23 miles of paved path from the Idaho/Washington state line eastward beyond Coeur d’Alene to Higgens Point.

But the foundation is also a player in other plans that involve the Prairie Trail and extending to Sandpoint the U.S. 95 trail that currently ends at Athol.

"These things happen in part because a lot of people are moving here and they want alternate opportunities and good trails," Keaty said to about 100 people.

The nonprofit foundation tries to stay involved and connected with trail projects and advocates for access and location.

Keaty said there are areas where the trail goes along the Spokane River, but it could have been located farther way, with no access or view. The foundation had a role in advocating for keeping the trail closer to the waterfront.

"That’s what we’re all about. That’s what we want to do and that’s why we continue to provide and care for this wonderful thing called the Centennial Trail," Keaty said.

Foundation Executive Director Tabitha Bonner said the trail continues to attract many people.

Preliminary counts found that at mile marker 13 near Riverstone Park, for 20 days from September to October in 2021, there were nearly 20,000 users, an average of nearly 950 a day.

For 95 days from April to August in 2022, at the same site, the count was 101,607, an average of 1,070 a day.

The foundation is updating a 2019 study that estimated the trail draws 417,000 users annually, creates nearly $3 million in sales and $1.3 million in payroll that supports 54 jobs. About 62% of the trail users are bicyclists; 38% are walkers or joggers.

Other trail benefits include providing an alternative mode of transportation, reducing traffic, promoting recreation and event opportunities, the aesthetic value, recruiting and retaining businesses, and boosting property values.

The foundation has three primary fundraisers: The Coeur d'Alene Marathon on May 28, Ales for the Trail in August and Coeur d'Fondo in September.

Memberships, sponsorships, partnerships and donations also support the foundation.

Foundation leaders said their ability to sustain the North Idaho Centennial Trail has been successful due to the community support.

Board member Doug Eastwood said there are costs to maintain the trail, including sealcoating it every six years, which costs around $300,000.

The first five miles of the trail from the state line to Post Falls need to be torn out and replaced, but overall, the trail is sound.

"We have been able to stay ahead of things for a long time," Eastwood said. "And I think we'll be able to stay ahead of them in perpetuity."

In another development, lighting for the bridge near the state line is set to come on soon and the words, "North Idaho Centennial Trail" will be visible at night from Interstate 90.

Vantage Point Brewing, 208 E. Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, hosted the event. It may open around the end of February and hopes to be a central stopping point for trail users.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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