They pulled out the old railroad tracks, laid down some asphalt and suddenly the area came to life. The new Prairie Trail is full of activity.
Old folks walking, young couples pushing strollers, bicycles of all sizes, shapes and configurations, in-line skaters and of course the runners...all enjoying the moment. The impressive thing, in my neighborly opinion, is the terrific variety of people using the trail.
If I go out in the morning, the trail carries focused, motivated people running fast, riding faster and walking with a purpose. If I go out at midday, there are far fewer folks and they are less urgent: Grandmas pushing carriages, Moms multitasking, juggling toddlers and cell phones, and older couples on bikes pulling little doggie trailers.
My favorite time is the evening. Before dinner or after, the trail is lively but not crowded. It's perfect. People are out for a stroll or meander, enjoying our spectacular autumn weather.
The Prairie trail is five miles long. It runs from Huetter Road on the north, down to Riverstone, on the route formerly held by the Union Pacific Railway. It is the product of brilliant cooperation by the Centennial Trail Foundation, the City of Coeur d'Alene and, yes, the LCDC.
The trail's personality changes as it saunters along. Some sections are quiet forest experiences, with only distant traffic sounds to remind that civilization is nearby. Other parts are buzzing, like passing Ramsey Park in the evening, with intense junior football practices, priceless micro-soccer games or raucous adult league baseball.
Continuing south, the trail passes under the freeway and quickly crests the small rise into Riverstone. It is beautiful. The stunning view of the river and its forested fringe bring to mind the mill operation that occupied the land for so much of our history. We can now enjoy the views while honoring the hard work and commitment that built our town.
In many ways, the Prairie Trail reminds me of Italy. It's not the look that is similar, it's the people walking, riding and enjoying. Lucca is an ancient town in Tuscany, Italy. Dating back before Roman times, Lucca is a charming, walled city. The wall surrounds the old town and is topped by a wide, graceful parkway which people use to stroll, ride and run on every day. The Italian culture is big on walking. In Rome, every Sunday evening they shut down the main streets of the city and people come out to promenade; they walk. Often arm-in-arm. They stop and talk with neighbors and friends, and then they walk.
Perhaps our Prairie Trail will do the same; perhaps it will inspire greater connection in our community. It's an asset for tourists and locals alike but I see the people of Coeur d'Alene enjoying the opportunity and greeting each other along the way.
So if you haven't yet discovered the new Prairie Trail, bring a bike, load up a stroller or just take a walk and try it out. You can start from the Riverstone park and go north, or jump on anywhere along the trail. But don't miss these beautiful autumn days, and Happy Trails to us all.