Hiking Guides: Hiking Tubbs Hill in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
I know spring has finally arrived in the place where I live, a small tourist town situated on a popular lake in north Idaho. I know this because the bicyclists and runners are out and about training for the full Iron Man competition that will be held here in June. I know because when I head downtown, the streets are bustling with activity. Motorcycles line the streets while locals and tourists alike lounge on the many tables lining the streets outside busy restaurants while soaking up the warm sunshine and enjoying a meal or a drink. Classic cars cruise the streets. Dogs carry around their favorite toys in their slobbery mouths in hopes that their owners will venture to the grassy area by the boat launch to play. My family decides to take a hike. The chosen hiking spot is Tubbs Hill.
About Tubbs Hill
Tubbs Hill is a beautiful 120 acre, publicly owned park situated in downtown Coeur d'Alene next to picturesque Lake Coeur d'Alene. A well maintained, relatively easy 2 mile trail winds around the the hill. There are many sub-trails you can take that lead either down to the water or higher up the hill where you can take in scenic lake and city views. Purchased in 1884, the property was initially supposed to be part of a development by Tony Tubbs. The addition was to have straight streets and rectangular plots but the topography of the land made it unbuildable. Many different ideas to use the land were tossed around throughout the years. Some of the proposed uses were: a power plant, convention center, and condominiums. Fortunately, the people of Coeur d'Alene raised funds to purchase the property and convey it into public ownership in 1974. Tubbs Hill today is a popular hiking destination for young and old alike.
Our Hike. A Great Workout for the Entire Family.
My family began the hike like everybody else. We were lucky enough to snag a free parking spot on the street. After changing into comfortable shoes in our car, we meandered through the downtown thoroughfare. That in itself is an entertaining experience as you will find all kinds of people around town. There are motorcyclists, bicyclists, joggers, coffee sippers, musicians playing various instruments, skaters in skinny jeans that still manage to be too baggy on the bum, people in swimwear sporting a plethora of tattoos, children enjoying giant ice cream cones, hippies, preps, beatniks and any other sub-group you can imagine. People-watching in downtown Coeur d'Alene is one of my favorite things to do. I don't spend too much time people-watching on this day, though. Today is a day for hiking with the family.
Once we reach the entrance we are greeted by a series of signs. The signs tell a brief history of the land, what kind of creatures and plant life you can expect to see, information on the trail itself and, of course, there are thank you's to the many doners and volunteer caretakers that keep the park beautiful and clean. We head up. It begins with a zig zagging path that inclines and has many rocks. This area is busy because it is also the point that the trail ends. After a short distance, you see a place where you can get a nice view of the marina and the Coeur d'Alene Resort. The building is very striking and I took the opportunity to snap a photo of it.
It's not like I'm a trailblazer or anything, so, I'm happy to see the path is well marked. The cool breeze coming off the lake helps to keep us comfortable. We meander along the path, feeling the muscles in the back of our legs and bottoms working hard to manage the incline. I realize that this is ideal exercise for someone who has a tendency to put it off or cut their work outs short. Once you're on the trail, you need to go the full distance in order to return to the beginning. There's no cutting through a side street to get home when you're tired. We continue to go until we see a path that leads us down to a small, pebbly beach. There are quite a few people hanging at the beach, soaking up the sun. I think they come here because it's more private than the main city beach located by the resort and by the city park. After watching some small children mercilessly throw object after object into the lake while a confused labrador swims around trying to gather the items, we decide to continue on our hike.
Soon we are given a choice. We can head to the right and continue on to East Tubbs Hill or we can head to the left and continue up the main trail. We opt for the main trail. We know there is a suspension bridge further up the trail that the kids enjoy bouncing upon and our car is near the main trail exit. Once again, I'm happy the trail is so well marked. This is definitely a hike that even a novice could enjoy on their own. The trail is on a steeper incline, now, as we head up the hill. Finally, we reach the suspension bridge. It's not very high off the ground. I imagine the dry creek bed below can sometimes fill with water. Regardless of the height, it is very bouncy and most hikers like to leap and bound across it's slats.
Now, we are heading down the hill. Peeking through the trees and natural habitat is a view of the city. I wonder at the contrast of it all. The sounds I hear are not typically heard together. I hear two male turkeys calling out, a robin repeatedly singing the same notes, the long honk of a cruise ship's horn, voices that are carrying up from nearby homes, and the sounds of automobile traffic on the streets below. Since we are walking on a decline, I feel the muscles on the front of my legs begin to work. It's still a little rocky, so we need to take smaller steps to keep our balance. This definitely beats heading to the gym.
Fun day. Free day.
After finishing the hike we realize that we just did a really fun activity as a family and it didn't cost us a single dime. In this economy, that's definitely appreciated. We are exhausted but happy and head home for a family dinner. We're lucky that we have such a wonderful and scenic public trail accessible from our downtown.