Small towns and National Forests offer great places to explore, relax and breathe in the fresh air. We try to go on a family hike or an off-road ride at least a few times a month. Especially when the weather is sunny but not blazing hot, everyone wants to get out of the house. On this particular day, we took the kids in our RZR to some nearby off-roading trails in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest and stopped for lunch at Gold Creek Lodge.
An ordinary afternoon is often the perfect time for a casual family adventure! At least our family thinks so. We love going off the beaten path and exploring the beautiful forest near our home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We all climbed into our RZR and headed to our local forest trails just north of our house. Our kids especially enjoyed stopping for lunch and going on a scenic walk at Gold Creek Lodge. If you enjoy the outdoors, an off-road vehicle is definitely a great way to see lots of nature and beautiful views up close.
A few years ago, my husband Andy modified our RZR with a lightweight back seat to accommodate our kids. Two of our kids can sit back there with helmets and safety harnesses. A third child can strap in between me and Andy in the front. The modification works well for our off-road vehicle, especially since we don’t do anything too intense with our three kids.
Bunco Off-Road Riding Area
Equipped with helmets, hiking shoes and snacks, we all strapped in the RZR and headed north on one of the side roads towards Silverwood Theme Park. At the start of the Bunco off-road trails near Athol, Idaho, you will find a parking lot with a small bathroom and pit toilet.
The Bunco off-road riding area leads to lots of trails for ATVs, RZRs and dirt bikes. Some of my favorite areas are the trails that overlook steep slopes on one side. The trails are decently wide and two off-road vehicles can easily pass. However, there are no guard rails to keep a careless driver from tipping over the edge.
Lake Pend Oreille Overlook
A bit further down the trail, you can stop at a scenic overlook of Lake Pend Oreille. This is a great spot for enjoying a snack or a drink. My kids especially like climbing around the rocks and exploring the smaller foot paths near the main trail. Of course, it’s very important for us to always supervise our kids. We remind them of safety precautions, so they don’t go near a drop-off. Last time we visited, I took my kids on a short hike and stayed very close. I would not advise allowing kids to explore at this lake overlook by themselves.
Lunch at Gold Creek Lodge
Just when everyone was starting to get hungry, we pulled into Gold Creek Lodge for lunch. This rustic lodge and restaurant near the Coeur d’Alene National Forest is a peaceful place to stop and rest. Visitors can rent a room for the night, reserve a Yurt, or go camping with a tent or RV.
Lunch was tasty and filling for our group of hungry explorers. We ordered hot wings, french fries and a Caesar salad from the menu, as well as sodas, root beer and waters. While we waited for the food, our kids enjoyed walking around the Gold Creek Lodge camping loop and checking out a nearby pond.
The Gold Creek Lodge restaurant is small with a dozen or so tables inside and a few tables outside. Two or three staff members were working at the time of our visit. We sat outside at one of the two outdoor tables. It took about 25 minutes to receive our food, and once we ate we were ready to hit the trail again!
The off-road trails in this area overlook valleys and slopes, providing many beautiful views. Locals come here regularly to explore and even cut firewood. We don’t often see wildlife such as deer or moose, probably because of all the off-road vehicle noise. However, there are always squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around near the trails.
Mud Puddles, Whoops and Pot Holes
We found plenty of interesting terrain to navigate along the Bunco off-roading trails, even for our young family. My kids love it when Andy drives through mud puddles and slightly accelerates over “whoops”, which are small hills in succession. We keep it mild because the kids feel any bouncing more in the back than we do in the front. We’re bound to find pot holes around every turn and sometimes the trail is muddier than we expected.
A big perk of living in the Coeur d’Alene Idaho area is that we can go exploring, hiking, kayaking and adventuring so close to home. My husband drove our RZR from our driveway, down side roads to the off-road trails, and back again. Especially since we got our vehicle licensed, we have a lot of flexibility for exploring close to home. We often go on half-day adventures on a nice afternoon with our kiddos, which is a great reason to get out of the house.
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, creative projects, taking photos and traveling. I’ve previously worked as a web designer, journalist and barista. I hope you enjoy our creative projects and family adventures!