Escaping the Washington Smoke on the Tubbs Hill Trail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The day after the fire broke out north of Spokane, we (not surprisingly) woke up to the absolute worst smoke we had experienced yet. It was so thick in the campground, and there was a thin layer of ash over everything. We had already planned a daytrip to Coeur d’Alene, so we packed up in the hopes that the air would be a little clearer just across the border.

My family visited Coeur d’Alene when I was about 10 years old, and I have always remembered how beautiful the lake was, so I was incredibly excited for our visit and to get my feet back in the water.

As we made the drive east, the skies gradually cleared, so we could eventually even see some blue sky—quite an improvement from the previous few days. It was a huge relief to get a little reprieve from the smoke, as even before the fire started the day before, it had been nearly unbearable. As someone with asthma, I had been keeping my inhaler close, though thankfully had not needed it. A trip to the hospital was not really something I wanted to add to our itinerary.

Even though we visited Coeur d’Alene on a Monday, we knew it would still be pretty busy with the end of summer vacationers, so we opted to head straight to a trailhead that would take us on a hike with views of the lake and eventually lead us to a beach where we could play in the water and relax. We hoped that the mile or so hike would deter some folks from going to the beach and that we could avoid some crowds. (We also had Daisy with us and had to be mindful of where she was allowed to go, especially on the beach.)

We actually passed quite a few people on the trails, but when we turned off to go toward the beach, we found a secluded little stretch of shoreline that was even in the shade. We quickly laid out our blankets, claimed our piece of the beach, and enjoyed our picnic lunch. As we ate, another family joined us nearby, but they were the only ones who even ventured our way.

Unfortunately, the waves crashing up along the shoreline were a little intense with all the boat traffic, so it was hard to get Bird in the water in a way she was comfortable, so she ended up playing mostly in the rocks along the shore.

While it was hard to not be able to go very far into the water, it was even more disappointing seeing the garbage and debris along the shore. There were several times when I quickly grabbed something out of the rocks before Bird saw it or she would hand me things she found (she is really good at that). There were even a few pieces of glass where the edges were not super sharp, but the glass was there nonetheless.

The beach was overall enjoyable, but the real treat was the hike back to the truck. The hike to the beach had taken us by the marina and the really busy area of the lake right near town, but the hike back was along the rocky cliffs that overlooked the rest of the lake. We saw people cliff jumping and loved the gorgeous scenery that seemed to get better with every turn.

Our trip to Coeur d’Alene was a quick one, but we had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The Tubbs Hill trail offers amazing vantage points and access to quiet, secluded areas of the lake that cannot be found on the public beaches in town. I was so excited to share this destination with Will and Bird, and it made it even sweeter that we escaped the smoke and had our first haze-free day in some time. If you ask Bird, any day is a good day when it involves a lake.

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