With fires raging in Washington and a cold front pushing the smoke west into Coeur d’Alene it was nice to get away this weekend. Our area of refuge was a beautiful run of pristine river famous for Blue Ribbon Trout and it’s rich history in logging, mining and Indian trails. I’m talking about the St. Joe River which starts near the Lolo National Forest and cuts through the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
A little research on VisitIdaho.org is enough to perk up any outdoor enthusiast. The “journey begins at the town of St. Maries where tug boats still ply the water. East you travel along the shadowy St. Joe River so named for the towering Cottonwoods which adorn the shore lines. Among these trees are bald eagles and osprey, which use the trees as nesting sites and perches where they launch themselves to pick up dinner from the feast provided by ‘The Joe.’” An act we got to see for ourselves on a little walkabout to find a hiking trail.
Word to the wise, scout your trailhead while you are driving along the St. Joe byway to find a campsite. We managed to find ourselves on a stretch of about 5 miles without a trailhead. Trust me, there are plenty of them you just have to know how far away and I don’t recommend walking blindly in the hopes of finding one.
Our camping spot couldn’t have been better, complete with a beach area right on the river, picnic table, fire pit and outhouse (a must have for my camping partner who has issues doing business in the woods). Anywhoo, a little more research on visit Idaho’s website revealed that the spot where we camped is a historic ford that prospectors used to cross the river and travel along an old Indian trail into Montana headed for the gold fields. Neat huh?
The trip wasn’t long enough to satisfy every adventure I could dream up. We did get to fish a little, but I will definitely return to do some hiking, biking and floating. The serenity and allure of this part of the Panhandle are both reasons why I am Stuck In North Idaho (ha, see what I did there?).