Sunday, March 16, 2014

Coeur d'Alene River and Chain Lakes - Kootenai County, Idaho

Motors Allowed (see speed restrictions at the bottom of this page)
Coeur d'Alene River... The channel you see in this picture enters Killarney Lake... one of the chain lakes
Coeur d'Alene River and Chain Lakes - In Florida there is a chain of Islands called the Florida Keys. The Inland NW has no competing chain of Islands, but there is a spectacular chain of lakes... beautiful vistas, beautiful lake channels, clear water graced with fish and surrounded by wildlife... a boaters paradise. This assortment of lakes is unlike any other place in the world and the premier jewel of the Inland NW. While on the river watch out for old broken pylons and obstacles like this little Island near the river bank.

These 10 Chain Lakes are off the slow moving and majestic Coeur d’Alene River. The lower Coeur d'Alene River flows 37 miles from the junction where the North and South Forks meet the main Coeur d'Alene River near the beginning of the Silver Valley into Lake Coeur d'Alene in the state of Idaho, USA. The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene extends some 77 miles northward into Idaho and the South Fork extends some 40 miles upriver to the Montana boarder from the junction where these two forks meet the main Coeur d’Alene River. Mining on the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River from the 1800’s through the 1960’s had affected the lower Coeur d’Alene River with lead and mercury pollution. Due to the environmental controls enacted in the 1970’s and major cleanup projects, the river is now recovering with an abundance of marine and waterfowl life (learn more in the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River section). Click here for RIVER FLOW INFO http://waterdata.usgs.gov/id/nwis/current/?type=flow

Salmon and Trout levels continue to remain strong on the river making it a popular destination for fishing. Tubing and swimming are also popular activities. Some of the chain lakes aren't popular for water skiing due to limited access, shallow water, and lots of marine vegetation; however, others of the larger and deeper Chain Lakes are popular for water skiing. There are 4 bridges over the Coeur d'Alene river, each  providing about 20-30 foot clearance below (official height not known). Seven bridges cross over the channels entering the Chain Lake with clearances as low as 3 to 10 feet. I found only one power line... running over a channel to Thompson Lake; I found none over the river. This does not mean there are none as I could have missed some and there may be power lines running under some of the bridges so be on the lookout, especially if you are taking a small sailboat up the river and into any of the Chain Lake.

Dante's Peak was filmed on the Coeur d'Alene River; the South Fork and part of its tributary; and the river city of Wallace, Idaho. The acid lake scene was filmed on Mirror Lake in Bonner County Idaho.

The boat you chose to use on your trip to the chain lakes and river will impact what you can access. For example, two of the chain lakes have low laying bridges of about 4-5’ above the water (depending on the time of year and water height). Most of the channels into the Chain Lakes are 10-20’ wide; so for the average trailer-able run about width or length should not be an issue. But the height and draft of your boat will be an issue in some of the channels and as we discuss each lakes' channel the issues will become clear. Depth in the river does not become an issue until about 2 miles before the Old Mission on some river bends. After the Old Mission the river has many shallow areas.

Three of the lake channels prohibit or limit one from entering the lakes depending on ones boats draft and height above the water line. Two other lakes have no navigate-able channels from the river. With a Canoe or Kayak you can access 8 of the lakes that have navigate-able channels from the river. There is a debate among locals regarding whether all 10 lakes should be called the Chain lakes because only 8 of the lakes can be accessed via channels directly from the river. All 10 lakes are very close to the river and all have creeks and or channels that go directly into the river. On this website all 10 lakes are called and considered the Coeur d’Alene River Chain Lakes.

Another unique feature of this area is the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene paved bike trail, which runs through the chain lakes system along the river and beyond. Click the following links for more information about this trail: http://www.idahoparks.org/parks/trailofthecoeurdalenes.aspx
http://friendsofcdatrails.org/ 

Directions: To access the river and chain lakes you can start in Harrison Idaho or at the primitive River Junction boat launch where the North and South Fork meet the main (Lower) Coeur d’Alene River. In addition there are 8 boat launches on the river, 3 launches in the Chain Lakes, and a slew of other access points. After the River Junction launch there are a few shallow areas that one has to navigate through (not suited for crafts with motors or deep draft), but once at the Old Mission the river gets deeper. Still there are some shallow areas particularly at turns in the river. One hundred foot steamboats use to navigate all the way up the river to the Old Mission. You will see pylons that are still visible from the old docks where people and freight boarded the steamboats on their travels to and from Lake Coeur d’Alene (see the steamboat history in the Lake Coeur d’Alene section… click on this link to learn more).


Click on each underlined link to visit the Coeur d'Alene River NORTH FORK, LITTLE NORTH FORK, SOUTH FORK.

SPORTSMAN ACCESS, BOAT LAUNCHES, AND CHAIN LAKES
Note: Boat Launches numbered...

Click on picture to enlarge!
1. The city of Harrison is at the mouth/outlet of the Coeur d’Alene River (Southwest end of the river) on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The Launch in Harrison can handle most deeper draft boats such as trailer-able keelboats or larger cruising powerboats. The public dock facilities at the Harrison Marina are excellent and maintained by Kootenai County Parks & Water Ways with restrooms, running water (running water is only available in Harrison, Killarney Lake facility, and the Old Mission, and at the exit 34 junction gas station/restaurants), and the ONLY pump-out stations is in Harrison. Fuel may or may not be available at Harrison marina so fill up your boat and vehicle before boating on the Coeur d’Alene River. The nearest gas station is at exit 34 on I90 & HWY 3 junction or in St. Marries some 30 miles away. In addition there is a city run RV and camp ground down by the private marina. The town of Harrison during the summer particularly has several wonderful restaurants, a grocery store, and lots of festivals. Go to http://www.harrisonidaho.org to learn more about this city and its annual activities.

Directions: To get to Harrison from either the city of Coeur d’Alene or Missoula MT. take I90 and take either Exit 22 onto Hwy 97 to Harrison or take Exit 34 onto HWY 3 then turn right onto HWY 97 west to Harrison. Harrison Chamber of Commerce: http://www.harrisonidaho.org/ Maps: View Google Map above...



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2. HWY 97/Blue Lake Rd Boat Launch
Paved Boat launch right next to HWY 97 bridge and across from the Anderson Lake Channel... Includes restroom and paved parking lot. No running water. Maps: View Google Map above...

Channel limits boats the can access this lake. Motors Allowed
Channel access to Anderson Lake from the
Coeur d'Alene River
Anderson Lake (720 acres) - Starting from Harrison and going up stream (NE) on the Coeur d’Alene River the first channel and lake you will come to is Anderson Lake... the largest of the chain lakes at 720 acres. The channel is fairly easy to find because it is right after the HWY 97 bridge (the first bridge you will come to. There is also a boat launch next to this bridge) on the right (E.). This channel entrance has a small bridge with the name of the lake on it. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alene bike trail runs the full length of the river chain lake system on the east side; thus, any lake on this side of the river has a bike bridge over the channel. The channel height limit due to the bridge is about 5’ high and 10’ wide (all measurements are estimates so don’t quote me) with a depth of about 4’- 6’ (very tight fits for some mid draft boats.) When entering into a lake (from all the channels) be sure to note a physical reference, as once you leave a channel into a lake it can be hard to find again due to how the channel exit area blends in with its surroundings.

Once in Anderson Lake you will find it quite large and fun to water ski and fish on. There are a few houses on the east side of the lake and a good depth in the middle. Like all the chain lakes the shore line is covered in vegetation and surrounded by wild life and full of fish. There is no public facility on this lake. To get to the lake via road, drive on HWY 97 and turn on E. Bell Rd, and the turn on S. Anderson Lake Rd and find a place along the road like the shore fishermen do and access the lake via hand launch. Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel and marina vegetation limit boats that can access this lake. Motors Allowed
3. Thompson Lake Boat Launch
The boat launch to this lake is on the Coeur d'Alene River
next to the channel into the lake
The next lake on our way up the river is Thompson Lake (260 acres). The channel to this lake is marked by a sign with the name of the lake at a boat launch (no restroom, running water, or dock), which is right at the entrance to the lake. The entrance to the lake is on the left (NE.) side of the river. The bridge clearance is about 4 feet high with width of about 6 feet, and water depth of 4 or so feet. There are also several power lines running across this channel. Again remember once you exit this channel into the lake make sure you make a visual reference as once you leave the channel its very hard to find as it blends in so well with its surroundings. I was expecting this lake to be totally un-navigate-able due to water weeds, etc. but I found the lake on the E. end where the channel enters was free of weeds in its deepest point and to the S. there is a nice defined channel along the lily pads. This is NOT a lake you should water ski/tub on. Room for water skiing or tubing would be very restricted and certainly would disturb the abundant wild life, so go to this lake to view the wild life or go fishing. I viewed the most wildlife on my trip at this lake such as wild turkey, deer, Great Blue Herons, Osprey, and fish jumping. To access this lake via road drive on HWY 97 and turn on E. Blue Lake Rd, and continue on this road until you come to the boat launch or see open water and a nice place to park along the road like the shore fishermen do and access the lake via hand launch. Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel limits boats that can access this lake, particular draft. Motors Allowed
Blue lake is our next lake to visit and is about 200 acres. The shoreline of this lake is totally
Channel entrance into Blue Lake from the
Coeur d'Alene River
private. The channel to this lake is well defined by an old rail road car used as a bridge with beefy boarded sides that go into the water with a height above the water of 8 ft or so. Overall it’s a deep channel (about 6 ft) except when you are entering the lake as it gets a bit shallower (about 3’ ft). At times the channel can become very narrow (about 6’) so when getting ready to enter or exit you will need to work with other boats in taking turns entering and leaving the channel. The exit of this channel is very close to a large hill to the NW. The shore line of this lake is totally private but of course the water is public and this lake appears to be a very nice lake to water ski/tube on and of course like all the chain lakes it’s a good fishing lake. There is no public facility on this lake. This lake has some high hills along the W, N, S side of the lake, very beautiful. To access this lake via road IF OPEN from Harrison via HWY 97, then E. Blue Lake Rd, and then right onto N. Brewster Rd. This road runs along E. shore of the lake and even though there are no boat launches you could launch your sail yak or small dinghy into the lake via this road next to or near the bridge again if the road is open.
Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel bridge extremely limits boats that can access this lake. Motors Allowed
Black Lake... Hardest channel entrance to find due to no
visible markers and it blends in well with the river bank
Our next lake is Black Lake at 308 acres with a depth of 10-30 ft. The channel to this lake can be potentially hard to find as it blends in well with its surroundings. Sorry there is just no feature that stands out to mark the channel to this lake, however when coming from Harrison you will know you have passed the channel when you start to see a ranch with a series of white fences on your right (E.) or vise versus pass the white fences. Once in the channel you will have to pass under a bike bridge (4’ high, 8’ wide, with water depth of about 4’) with a Black Lake sign on it. Very tight fit for some mid draft boats to get under this bridge. When exiting from the channel there is a telephone pole in the water which is a good feature to use to help you find the channel again on your way back out.

This lake has a deep and rocky shore line and with high hills almost all round the lake, quite stunning, and weeds on the east end. It also has the most homes around it out of all the chain lakes, yet this fact does not seem to distract from its beauty or wildlife; I saw my first beaver on this trip in the Black Lake channel. This is also an excellent fishing lake. It is also a nice lake to water ski/tube on but please stay in the middle of the lake so your boat wake does not annoy the lake side residents. 4. Black Lake Sportsman Access... There is a public dock on the east end of the lake with no boat launch, restroom, or running water so you can launch a kayak from the dock by portaging you kayak down a steep short trail. You will have to paddle some distance to get through the grass and lily pads, there is limited amount of space to park (2 vehicles without trailer). To access the lake and public dock from HWY 3, turn onto Black Lake Rd. and follow the signs to the Black Lake Boat Launch. Public Dock: http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/parkswaterways/facilities/BlackLake.asp Notice: Black Lake Marina is not longer open to the public. Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel depth extremely limits boats that can access this lake. Motors Allowed
Channel entrance into Swan Lake via the Coeur d'Alene River
Swan Lake (400 acres)... Just a few hundred feet up the river from the Black Lake channel entrance is the Swan Lake entrance, marked by two telephone poles with bird perches on each side of the channel entrance. The channel is wide (10’-15’) and deep as you enter (6’), but don’t let appearances fool you as once you begin to exit the channel into the lake you’ll find the water depth will only be about 2 feet or less deep with no well defined channel into the deep part of the lake. Due to this fact Swan Lake is not suitable for powerboats with drafts beyond this depth and you surely do no want to be sucking up weeds and mud into your motor uptakes (there’s lots of this stuff to suck up when entering the lake). However canoes, kayaks, small fishing boats, dinghy sailboats, and other shallow draft crafts are suitable for this lake. Swan Lake is 400 acres. You will have to travel several hundred feet through the shallow area of the lake before getting to the main body of the lake with an average depth of 5-20’. There is also Swan Island which is probably about an acre of land and is open to the public with no dock facility, running water, or restrooms but has two picnic tables and primitive trail. This is one of my favorite lakes for sailing as it seems to be situated in an ideal location for wind coming up from Harrison, yet also has mountains to the N which create an evening thermal wind. Plus its a popular fishing lake. There is no public boat launch on this lake. Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel to Medicine and Cave Lakes
Channel to Medicine & Cave Lakes. Only suitable for kayaks and other small crafts

5. Medimont Coeur d'Alene River Boat Launch... Toilets, Short paved boat ramp into river, no dock or running water, restroom, with large paved parking lot. Directions: 23 miles east of Coeur d'Alene on I-90, take exit 34 (Rose Lake), drive 13 miles on State Hwy 3, turn north/right onto S. Medimont Rd. On this road after you cross the paved "Trail of the Coeur d'Alene" bike path and when the road turns sharply left take the small road on your right down to the boat launch area. Altitude: 2100'.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alene Bike Bridge you pass under on your way to or
from the Coeur d'Alene River
Tunnel Bridge next to the Medicine Lake Boat launch on the Lake

6. Rainy Hill (Medicine Lake) Boat Launch - Toilets, short paved boat ramp with 3 foot depth at end of launch pad. There is an additional boat launch on Medimont Road 1/2 mile further west right on the river and is a launch site only with no additional facilities. Last time I checked there is no fee at these two sites. Directions: 23 miles east of Coeur d'Alene on I-90, take exit 34 (Rose Lake), drive 11 miles on State Hwy 3, turn west on to E. Rainy Hill Rd. and drive 1 mile to boat launch area. Altitude: 2100'.

Medicine Lake (340 acres) -  "Access to Cave Lake via Medicine Lake." The next channel we enter after Swan Lake is the entrance to both Medicine and Cave Lakes. The entrance to this channel is right after you pass a large independent hill right next to the river (only such hill on the river) and there is also an area next to the channel entrance that is used for camping and launching of small boats (with a paved boat launch just about a hundred feet down stream, S. called Medimont Boat Launch) with no restroom, running water, or dock. This channel is deep (6’) and wide but like Swan Lake the channel has its limitations. The first obstacle you come to is a bike bridge with a limited area of 6’ high, 6’ wide (approximate) with depth of about 6’, after this bridge there is even a smaller bridge with a tunnel under it, with an opening of only about 4’ high, 6’ wide, and 3 foot water depth (the smallest such opening of all the chain lake bridges). Just before this bridge there are two smaller channels in view of the bridge which dead end into small ponds. When I went through this second bridge with my Hobie Adventure Island sail yak I had to of course drop my mast and fold in my outriggers. There is a shallow and primitive boat launch on this lake just after exiting the bridge tunnel with restroom but no running water (Rainy Hill Boat Launch). Medicine Lake is about 400 acres and is a popular fishing lake. Cave lake (see info below in next lake section) is accessed via this lake (Medicine Lake) via another bridge and short channel.

Directions: From HWY 3 take the E. Rainy Hill Rd. for about a mile and watch the sign for Rainy Hill boat launch (http://www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/rec/yourplace/cgguide/33.html). This boat launch is on Medicine Lake and gives you boating access to Cave Lake to the west. Sometimes people will confuse Rainy Hill Boat Launch on Medicine Lake with Medimont Boat Launch. Medimont Boat launch is on the CdA River off of E. Rainy Hill Rd. http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/parkswaterways/facilities/Medimont.asp Medicine lake is next to and larger than Cave lake. Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel and boat launch at neighbor lake limit boats that can access this lake. Motors Allowed
Cave Lake (700 acres) – You enter Cave Lake via the channel from Medicine Lake
(If you are only reading about this lake you must read the Medicine Lake section to know how to get to this lake from the Coeur d’Alene River).

Cave lake access from Medicine Lake
After exiting the channel into Medicine Lake and as you pass the boat launch you look right (W.) you will see a bridge, this is the entrance into Medicine Lake. The channel is about 4-5 high, about 8 feet wide, and about 3-5’ deep depending on the time of year you visit. Like Anderson Lake it is one of the larger lakes and a really nice lake to enjoy the wind and open water on, a really nice sailing lake. There is no public facility on this lake but since the Medicine lake boat launch is so close to the entrance of this lake its best to access the lake from there. This lake is mostly in the open (no hills near by) with of lots lily pads and grass along its shoreline.

Directions: From HWY 3 take the E. Rainy Hill Rd. for about a mile and watch the sign for Rainy Hill boat launch. This boat launch is on Medicine Lake and gives you boating access to Cave Lake to the west via boating to the bridge channel to the West of this boat launch. Note that Rainy Hill Boat Launch (http://www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/rec/yourplace/cgguide/33.html) as indicated gives you access to both Medicine and Cave lakes, and Medimont Boat Launch gives you access to the river not the lakes http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/parkswaterways/facilities/Medimont.asp Maps: View Google Map above...


Channel and boat launch allow most boat sizes to access this lake. Motors Allowed
Killarney Lake (500 acres) is the deepest of the chain lakes at about 100 ft. The channel to this lake is marked by a boat launch on the left (E.) side of the CdA River right at the entrance to the channel with the name of the lake on a very visible sign. This channel is long, wide (20’), and deep (6-10’) and in most cases wide enough for boats to pass each other safely (largest channel of the chain lakes). This lake also has two islands, one which is private (Hidden Island) on the southwest side. This islands western most shore is connected to a large wet land. To the N. is Popcorn Island (also known as Killarney Island). You may find it hard to find when you first enter the lake as it blends in well with its background. So head N. on the lake and you will find it. It’s a wooded dome shaped Island with one campsite on top and a dock on its N. shore with a sign that says, of course, Popcorn Island. It also has a nice trail that goes around it and some picnic areas. To the E. on this lake is a boat launch with dock (nice little channel that runs from the launch into deeper part of the lake), campsites, and restroom, very nice facilities (YES it has running water). There is another camping area with dock a short distance from the boat launch with no launch facility (see more info below). This lake is great for any water sport activity.
BLM BOAT LAUNCH AND CAMP SITES (All facilities on this lake are ran by the BLM) - http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/coeur_d_alene/recreation_sites_.html



7. Killarney Lake Boat Launch - Concrete boat ramp, docks, paved parking and 12 primitive camp units are situated on the shore of the Lake (no hook ups). Drinking water is available from a hand lift pump. Camp units, water and vault toilet are accessible. Snow is plowed in the winter for ice fishing access. The last time I checked Fees for using this site is $8/site, plus $1/each additional person over 5 persons. Open year around.  Directions: About 28 miles southeast of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. US-90 east from Coeur d'Alene for 19 miles to the Rose Lake/St. Maries exit. Follow State Highway 3 south for 4 miles and take Killarney Lake Road to the right for 3.5 miles.

Killarney Lake Picnic Site - This small site on the Shore of Killarney Lake has one picnic unit and two tent camping units. Access is by boat or a short foot path from the road. There is no drinking water. A pit toilet and one boat dock are provided. There is no fee to use this site the last time I checked and is open year-round. Directions: About 29 miles southeast of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. US-90 east from Coeur d'Alene for 19 miles to the Rose Lake/St. Maries exit. Follow State Highway 3 south for 4 miles and take Killarney Lake Road to the right for 4 miles.

Popcorn Island
Popcorn Island - This small, one-acre Island on the northern end of Killarney Lake is developed with a boat dock, vault toilets, one primitive camp unit and one picnic unit. No fees to use this site the last time I checked. Open: May through September. Directions: About 28 miles southeast from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Boat access only, nearest launch site is Killarney Lake. From Coeur d'Alene take US-90 east for 19 miles to the Rose Lake/St. Maries exit, follow Highway 3 south for 4 miles and take Killarney Lake Road to the right for 3.5 miles. Access the Island via the boat launch and head west of the lake.


Hidden Island
Hidden Island - This small, two-acre Island on the southwest side of Killarney Lake is un developed with no developed sites for camping. There is a primitive trail on the Island and spots one could camp. Please obey any use limit signs. Directions: About 28 miles southeast from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Boat access only, nearest launch site is Killarney Lake. From Coeur d'Alene take US-90 east for 19 miles to the Rose Lake/St. Maries exit, follow Highway 3 south for 4 miles and take Killarney Lake Road to the right for 3.5 miles. Access the Island via the boat launch and head west of the lake.

There is no FOREST SERVICE sites/access on this lake.

Maps: View Google Map above... Boat Launch & Park info: http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/parkswaterways/facilities/KillarneyLaunch.asp - Popcorn (Killarney) Island info http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/parkswaterways/facilities/KillarneyIsland.asp

Lake Killarney Boat Launch - Not a very deep launch site so you really need a shallow draft boat to launch from this site.


8. BLM Boat Launch, Idaho... Paved boat launch on the river, restroom, paved parking lot. No running water. View Google Map above...


Motors Allowed
9. The next lake up the river is Rose Lake at 390 acres. Rose Lake is not accessible from the river. There is a creek that runs from the lake into the CdA River but it is totally engulfed in weeds and only runs during early spring during high run off so this creek is not accessible to even canoes or kayaks. However Rose Lake has one of the nicest boat launch facilities with dock and restroom of all the chain lakes. (No running water, but just up the road at exit 34 junction there is water at the gas station). And just up the road from the boat launch is a primitive campground you can camp at (4 campsites with dock). There are a lot of lily pads and weeds all the way around this lake but once out in the middle of the lake there is a significant amount of open water. Rose Lake is known for it good sailing conditions and great fishing, a very popular fishing lake without the negative affects of led from past mining activities further up the river. By the locals it is preferred you not water ski/tube and jet ski on this lake. To get to Rose Lake from either I90 (exit 34) or from Harrison on HWY 3 turn NW onto south toward E. Watson Rd., turn left at Rose Lake sportsman access rd. to the boat launch. Going straight on E. Watson Rd. past the sportsman access rd. takes you to a primitive campground with dock on Rose Lake. Maps: View Google Map above...



10. Old Mission State Park (the Mission was built between 1848-1853 and is the oldest standing building in Idaho. The Coeur d’Alene Indians and Jesuits considered the site for the Mission sacred) includes a boat launch, docks, and park with restrooms and running water and interpretive center. The boat launch is right at a big bend in the river, which has created a very deep pool so even in the summer you can launch from this site. However, in late summer and early fall you may be backing your trailer over a lot of rocks to get to the water so if you have a big shinny boat you may want to launch a little further down the river preferably in Harrison. Up river from the Mission is where the rapids are but there are no rapids down river from this Old Mission launch. From the this boat launch to Harrison it is about a 22 miles boat trip. Directions: To access the Old Mission boat launch take exit 39 off I-90 and follow the frontage road past the Mission entrance on (S. Mission Rd). Maps: View Google Map above.


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11. Kahnderose Campsite & Access, Coeur d'Alene River
River access suitable for manually launching a kayaks/canoes/drive boats, beach, gravel parking area, no restroom or runningwater, campsites for tents and RV's. View Google Map above...


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12. Sportsman Access, Coeur d'Alene River
River access via walking and carrying your kayak/canoe south of Trail of the Coeur d'Alene bike trail to trail down to waters edge. beach, gravel parking area, no restroom or running water. View Google Map above...


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13. Riverview Dr. Boat Launch, Coeur d'Alene River
Primitive sand/mud boat launch suitable for kayaks/canoes/drive boats, beach, gravel parking area, no restroom or running water. View Google Map above...


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14. River Junction Primitive Boat Launch, Coeur d'Alene River
Primitive sand/mud boat launch suitable for kayaks/canoes/drift boats, small gravel parking area, no restroom or running water. View Google Map above...



A COUPLE OF OTHER LAKES
There are two other lakes you may hear about during your trip to the Chain Lakes and so I wanted to give you quick synopses about them.

Kayaks and Canoes can access this lake at high water. Mostly a bird watching lake.
Bull Run Lake at 90 acres (when full) is right off HWY 3. From HWY 3 turn on S Bull Run Rd. (S.E.) and cross the bridge over the CdA River (next to the bridge is a boat launch with restroom, but no running water), then you go right (SW) and you will come to a park next to the Lake with restroom but no running water. This lake is mostly covered in lily pads and is shallow. I am told it will not dry up in late summer but may come close and was also told it’s a nice fishing lake and great to view wildlife at/from. There is no boat launch at the park next to this lake so you will need to walk up the gravel road (S. Bull Run Rd.) a little with you canoe or kayak to the S. and launch from this road. You will have to work your way through the weeds and then paddle through the lily pads to get to the open water. Maps: View Google Map above...


Bird watching lake, No Motors Allowed
Porter Lake/Pond (50 acres) which is really more like a pond than a lake and is immediately south of (below) Rose Lake at about 50 acres when full. It will not totally dry up in late summer early fall but will come darn close, so it’s not really good for any water sport activities. There is of course no public facility on this lake and so kayaks and canoes are the boats of choice for this pond. I guess you could access the pond from HWY 3 via pushing your way through the grass and paddling your way through the lily pads. It is almost totally covered in lily pads with some open water right in the middle. Maps: View Google Map above.


COEUR D’ALENE RIVER AND CHAIN LAKES BOATING RULES/LAWS

Power Boaters Please Be Aware! I wanted to makes a special note related to boating at unsafe speeds in any of the chain lake channels and Coeur d’Alene River because while I was kayaking in one of these channels I almost got ran over at a sharp turns in a channel. I was so surprised to see a boat going so fast (about 20 mph) in such a narrow channel and totally disregarding any level safe boating sense. Also going too fast and creating a large wake in any of the channels causes’ significant erosion. Be kind to other boats, be aware of the damage you can do via your wake related to erosion, and specially be safe. If you see a boat operator operating a boat unsafely write down their hull registration number and report it to the Sheriffs Department.

·   Speed Limit on Lakes: Day - 50 mph; Night - 20 mph.
·   Speed Limit on Rivers: Day - 35 mph; Night - 20 mph.
·   No Wake Zone (5 mph) on Lakes: Within 200' of shoreline, dock, pier, breakwater or person in the water.
·   No Wake Zone on Rivers: 100'.
·   No Wave Zone on Chain Lake Channels and tributaries
·   Adult supervision is required when an operator of a boat or other vessel is between the ages of 10 to 14 unless the motor is 15 horsepower or less.
·   Children aged 14 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when they are aboard a vessel 19' long or less when the vessel is underway or under power. This applies to manually propelled boats as well as motorboats.

Swimming on and eating fish from the Coeur d’Alene River CAUTION notice!

Up river on the Coeur d’Alene River is was known for years of mining and thus contaminants such as lead have traveled down the river for years and thus sportsmen accessing the river system and chain lakes should know about the potential health hazards.
If you are visiting the area once a year then your concerns related to lead and other contaminates impacting your health is low to no affect. Still the US Department of Health & Human Services along with other organizations have issued the following warnings and recommendation:

Official Quotes: The Frequency of exposure to containments such as lead and other negative compounds in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin would probably be low, however the potential for health concerns is generally low as well.

The Concentration of contaminants, in most locations within the Coeur d’Alene River Basin, is not at levels which could represent a human health threat. However it is not recommended that you eat fish from the Chain Lakes area.

FISH & GAME MAPS AND FISHING INFO

Fish & Game Coeur d’Alene Chain Lakes Wilderness Management Area
http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wma/cda/info.cfm
Fish and Game CdA River map and planner - http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/fishingplanner/WaterInfo.aspx?qt=1&ID=0&WID=8495 
STAY TUNED THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO COME!

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