Nestled just off the forest service roads of the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, Shadow Falls is easily one of the most popular spectacles along the Coeur d’Alene River.
Back in May 2015, we attempted to hike to Shadow Falls for a story I was working on (you can read about that trip here). While driving along the river, we encountered snowy conditions that only worsened once we turned onto Trail 513. My little Subie could barely handle the conditions, and a downed tree confirmed we’d be walking the rest of the way to the trailhead, making our trip much longer, and colder, than expected. Because of the conditions, and Kyle’s chilly feet, we only made it to Fern Falls and put off Shadow Falls for another day.
Earlier this summer, while Kyle was away for a bachelor party, Juneau and I decided to give it another go. It was a hot, 90-degree day and we were ready for some shade and cool water.
The trail was busy, and dusty, much different from out initial visit. Trucks and ATV’s passed as we walked toward the trailhead and Yellow Dog Creek. Campers and sightseers tailgated in the parking lot, eating sandwiches and drinking beer. Camera and tripod in hand, Juneau and I made our way up the short trail to the falls.
Fern Falls is an easy quater-mile up the trail. I stopped on the same bridge overlooking the small waterfall, taking in the green moss-covered rocks that were once covered in ice and snow. It was one of those deja vu moments where everything was so similar, but just different enough to question if it really was the same place. Juneau drank some water from the creek and we moseyed on ahead, passing families with small children and dogs, and a few people who were packed for a much more challenging hike than what was provided.
Not too far after Fern Falls, the trail takes a sharp turn to the right and the incline increases. For about another quarter-to-half mile, we climbed through the forest of pine, cedar and ferns. This section of the trail was much quieter, allowing the sounds of the birds to trickle through the tree branches. We could hear the falls before we could see them, the air cooling as we approached.
Shadow Falls, while beautiful, isn’t large – about 25 feet tall. The rocks and trees surrounding the falls are draped in moss, feeding off the mist. The cold, white water pops against the dark greens and grays of its surroundings, a veil of water fueling the creek below. It’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to the falls each year, it’s truly a sight worth seeing.