Lake Coeur D'Alene as seen from the top of Mineral Ridge
Hiking the U.S.,  National Forest Exploration with Nerds on the Road

Mineral Ridge Trail and Beauty Creek, CDA, ID

Living back in the Pacific Northwest after not having been there since 2009 was odd. I was regularly mixed with feelings of nostalgia and belonging, which honestly made me feel even more restless. I feel more comfortable in the forests there than anywhere else in the country. However here was always the nagging feeling of “time to move on, time to see more” that I’d always had and been able to accommodate while living in an RV.

After we hiked just about every trail that we wanted to in the Spokane North Idaho area we had a hard time picking trails to do twice. Eventually we would drive further and further from town until we were driving up to 3hrs away to find a new or coveted hike. However Mineral Ridge and the Beauty Bay area around Coeur d’Alene was an area we returned to several times and would still mark it our favorite ‘hour or less’ trips from Spokane.

You get spoiled in an RV, being able to do new hikes every weekend.

A woman walking on mineral ridge trail in northeast idaho, the light is low and direct through the dark forest

The Trail

Mineral Ridge, just a few miles outside of Coeur d’Alene Idaho, is a very short hike with a pretty great view of Beauty Bay on the east side of the lake. Along the trail are little gems like a half dug mine…or cave, and an old cabin. At the top there’s a picknick table that we always use if not occupied because we always bring a lunch on our day trips. During the early days of Covid restrictions, Mineral Ridge was one of the first trails back open and being used. However the parking lot was packed, leaving people parked along the side of the highway, like everyone in the region suddenly discovered nature at the same time. So, there was a year or so where we just drove past Mineral Ridge but that’s how we discovered so much more in the Beauty Bay/Beauty Creek area.

Mineral Ridge Trail in Northern Idaho - a trail with a cut tree formerly fallen and a view of the sky in the distance
Mineral Ridge Trail in Northern Idaho

The hike is usually a great start to a full afternoon in the national forest south of it, and you can move on to Beauty Creek Trail or Trail 79 a short distance away as well as several beautiful pullouts along Beauty Creek with giant cedar trees and ferns.

Beauty Creek Trail

Beauty Creek Forest Area in Idaho - sun coming through the trees and a clear sky visible

Beauty Creek trail is a long steady climb to the top of Beauty Saddle and seems to be mostly used by horses and mountain bikes. We start about a mile or two from the top next to our favorite campsite and go up from there. Here, you can find everything from morels to huckleberries if you know what you’re doing.

Our favorite campsite is right off of a forest service road and above it about 10 feet with some makeshift stairs and a great little fire pit. There’s a big parking area if you want to bring a toy trailer and even a bathroom nearby. Bathrooms are basically unheard of outside of the few official campgrounds in the area so we think this campsite used to be part of an actual campground once. From here you can follow Beauty Creek until it splits off to the east into the forest and enjoy views like those in the photo to the left.

Beauty Creek Trail in Northern Idaho - a view of a trail and trees on either side with low groundcover plants along the side.
Beauty Creek Trail

Trail 79

Another trail in the area, if you make it up the winding roads near Beauty Saddle, is Trail 79. This hike mostly seems like an old forest service road which makes it a great Nordic ski and snowshoe area in the winter. We haven’t visited it in winter however, and the trail would have to be accessed from the bottom because the roads would be closed, but we found this amazing warming hut with a wood stove inside.

Ross hiking on trail 79 in CDA National Forest with wildflowers along side the trail

The entire area is ripe with little jeep worthy roads, campsites with amazing views, and fun maintained and unmaintained trails without any crowds whatsoever. You can also find your very own favorite berry picking area or mushroom haul if you look hard enough! Definitely my favorite area near Coeur d’Alene.

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