Location: Coeur d’Alene National Forest, North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River
Season: Spring – Fall
Duration: 1 Day
Distance: ~2 miles, round trip
Directions: From I-90 at Kingston, take the Kingston exit off of I-90 and follow highway 9 northeast along the river for approx. 24 miles until you meet highway 208.
The intersection of highway 9 and 208 is locally referred to as the “Y” at Prichard Idaho and there is a small general store here. Highway 208 is the left road (most northern), which will continue up the river.
Drive up 208 for approx. 18 miles, watch for Yellow Dog Creek road, this is the old access to the falls, don’t go up it, it washed out. Less than a mile up the road from Yellow Dog, you will see a sign for Fern and Shadow Falls. Turn left onto this road and follow, the signs will lead you the rest of the way.
Most cars can do this drive quite easily if you take care picking your line on the road.
Route Description: This hike is located in the mountains above the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.This Forest comprises about 2.5 million acres of beautiful mountains, clear lakes and rivers, ancient cedar groves, fish and wildlife for a host of outdoor activities.
As for this hike, it documents a trail up to a couple of waterfalls that are lush with vegetation from the cool mist of cascading water. The trail is wide and composed mostly of large sized gravel and follows Yellow Dog Creek up about ¼ mile from the parking lot.
The falls are on the same creek, the lower is Fern Falls and the upper is Shadow Falls. To get to Fern Falls (~12 feet high), the first of the two, just take an easy 1 mile hike up the trail to the wood bridge over the creek (there’s a sign, so you can’t miss it).
The second and biggest waterfall is Shadow Falls (~24 feet), which is hidden in a slot up above Fern Falls in a darker more shadowy place (hence the name). You can find it by continuing up the rocky trail past Fern Falls for another couple hundred yards, where the trail will double back and climb up to the waterfall (couple hundred yards more).
The second section is steeper, mostly smooth single track with sections of rock steps to a hidden water fall.
On a hot day these falls are great for kids to play in, you can walk behind both of them and even in August the water is still cool. There is a nice spot at Fern falls for a picnic lunch and the hike is appropriate for all ability levels. I would suggest bringing a picnic lunch on a hot day and then loose track of time.
Also while you’re up the river, there are many opportunities to camp and fish. Check out some of the campsites and find a good swimming pool, Big Hank is probably the most beautiful camp up the river.