If you choose to tour the International Selkirk Loop by road, the main 280 mile/450 kilometer route follows glacially carved river valleys, lake shorelines and historic waterways. The roadway itself is of a two lane nature with shoulders adequate in some places and narrow in others. The difficulty rating for this ride is considered intermediate to challenging. Traffic is generally light, with the busiest time of year being July and August. Cycling in September to mid-October will provide you with warm days, crisp nights and beautiful fall colors. Spring means late April through mid-June in the northern latitudes; this time of year is beautiful with snow capped peaks, spring flowers and lush green fields, but has a higher chance of rain and blustery weather.
Add to that the International Selkirk Loop’s six Super Side Trips which provide you with an additional 450 miles/725 kilometers of unique riding enjoyment, and you're in for some amazing cycling adventures.
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Blog Posts from other cyclists
Notes for cycling the Loop
New! A 10-day 400 mile cycling/camping itinerary that gives you camping information for each night. The route takes in the main Loop and the spectacular "North Kootenay Lake-Silvery Slocan" Super Side Trip. Click here to download the itinerary.
A 5-day cycling itinerary utilizing, when possible, safe secondary roadways posted with a map of each days ride that can be downloaded. Click here for the five maps. **NOTE: Please disregard the elevations stated on the maps, there is an error in the "Map My Ride's" program. The ride follows glacially carved river valleys and lake shores. The two super side trips that offer the most challenge are the "North Kootenay Lake-Silvery Slocan" & the "Flowery Trail-Little Pend Oreille" Super Side Trips. However, even these are considered only moderate climbs.
When cycling the Washington leg of the Selkirk Loop route, consider taking the LeClerc road which paralells Hwy 20
|Order Route & Elevation Map Book of the Selkirk Loop
on the east side of the Pend Oreille (pronounced pon-duh-ray) River. Access is at the state line between Idaho and Washington, just east of Newport, or south of Ione off of Hwy 31. This paved farm-to-market road allows you to have a safer ride with less traffic. Click here for a map of this segment.
"We would highly recommend cycling this route - it's very scenic and made for very enjoyable cycling. Traffic wasn't a big problem and we got lots of honks and waves of encouragement along the way."
- M. Danbrook in "A Traveler's Tale" at www.byways.org
Although not a through road, cycling to Priest Lake on Hwy 57 is certainly worth the extra time. Best views of the lake from the paved roadway are along the east shore. There are a few resorts, but mostly Idaho State Park Campgrounds.
When leaving Newport traveling east, for an alternate to Hwy 2, follow Hwy 41 south to Old Priest River Rd., turn left and follow to Priest River. Here you have the option to go to Priest Lake on Hwy 57 by recrossing the Pend Oreille River or continuing east on Dufort Rd which will intersect Hwy 95 south of Sandpoint, turn left (north).
Follow Hwy 95 to Sagle where you pick up another paved bike path at Sagle which will lead you into Sandpoint. When leaving Sandpoint, follow this safe route north out of Sandpoint. This will minimise your exposure on busy Hwy 95 to 10.5 miles out of the 32 miles. It will also miss the road construction north of Sandpoint. Click here for directions.
An alternate route to highway 95 is located seven miles south of Bonners Ferry. Turn off at Naples (west) onto Schoolhouse Rd, then right (north) on Deep Creek Rd. and follow north. This route takes you along Deep Creek and through lovely farm valleys. The route brings you back to highway 95, 2 miles south of downtown Bonners Ferry.
This alternate will save you climbing a long grade.
There are two International Border Crossings, so be sure to bring your passport. There are six nice day rides in the Creston Valley area including through the orchards south of Creston. Click here to view details of these routes and download maps. The route north of Creston, BC on Hwy 3A follows the shoreline of Kootenay Lake. It has limited services until you reach Crawford Bay where there are accommodations, an artisan colony, small café’s and a general store at Gray Creek. The roadway received a new asphalt surface in 2009. Shoulders are narrow, but traffic is light with numerous turnouts.
You’ll be riding North America’s longest free ferry across Kootenay Lake (45 min.) and offloading in Balfour. If time allows the North Kootenay Lake – Silvery Slocan Super Side Trip is a pristine ride with unparalleled scenery. Either way you’ll end up in Nelson, with a fun, hip counter culture downtown. There are lots of B&B’s and fun boutique hotels as well as a hostel in Nelson.
The International Selkirk Loop has elevation maps specifically designed for cyclists divided into manageable 50-70 mile segments. This ring bound, water resistant 56 page booklet is a must have for those considering cycling the Selkirk Loop. It will include all of the main route as well as every Super Side Trip. To order a copy of A Cyclists' Guide To The International Selkirk Loop click here.
Want to travel the Loop as part of a fun, supported ride? Join us in September 17-22, 2012 for the fourth annual WaCanId Ride. The WaCanId is a 355-mile intermediate ride over five days, with one lay-over day mid-ride, around the Loop, with one side trip thrown in. Registration is limited to 100 riders, fifty start at two separate locations (your choice) and ride concurrently. There's terrific support along the route by members of Rotary International, the opportunity to stay at fine lodging and sample the neat towns en route. Click on the logo to the right and follow the link for sign up information. Proceeds will benefit local Rotary Clubs around the Loop.
Click to see an interactive route map for each day of the WaCanId Ride.
Other regional bike trails of note while in the area:
The Route of the Hiawatha trail is the pearl of all rail-to-trail projects in the country. Over 15 miles of railroad track has been converted into a beautiful compacted gravel biking and walking trail with a downhill grade. There are ten tunnels and seven trestle bridges up to 230 feet high. The 1.7 mile long St. Paul Pass tunnel is a best part of the trail. Start your ride at Lookout Pass Ski Area where mountain bike rentals, including helmets and lights, and an optional return shuttle service are available. Fees go toward maintaining the trail, constructed as part of the "Rails to Trails" program, which converts unused railways to trails.
Nearest City: Wallace in northern Idaho
Location: North Idaho, 12 miles East of Wallace- I-90 Exit 0
Directions: Lookout Pass Ski Area, I-90 at the Idaho/Montana state line
Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
– This is anothe rail-to-trail path, south of the Selkirk Loop in northern Idaho. It winds 72 miles from Mullan to Plummer through the historic Silver Valley, into the Chain Lake region, then along the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene, through Heyburn State Park, and finally the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. Start at the head of the trail at Interstate 90 Exit 68, for the Mullan business district; see map
. But you don't have to start only at Exit 68, as there are 20 trailheads along I-90 between Mullan and Plummer for access to this outstanding 72-mile trail.
Centennial Trail – The Centennial Trail runs from the Washington State line to Higgins Point on Lake Coeur d'Alene for 24 miles. This beautiful trail is primarily of Class I separated and paved trail with some segments of Class II trail. The trail has numerous rest areas, scenic views and historical interpretative signs to add to the satisfaction of one of the most scenic biking trail systems in North Idaho country. The North Idaho Centennial Trail continues across the Washington border as the Spokane River Centennial Trail. Under separate jurisdiction the Spokane River Centennial Trail continues for 37 miles through Spokane west to 9 Mile. In total the two trails combined provide over 60 miles of continuous trail for safe recreation and alternative transportation.