#9 Fernan Lake Village, Idaho

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Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 171
Drive time to downtown Coeur d’Alene: 3 minutes
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 40 minutes

Metro Spokane Suburbs
Most people in the metro don't even know Fernan Lake exists.

Overall Character: ★★★★☆
Urban: ★★☆☆☆
Suburban: ★★★☆☆
Walkability: ★★☆☆☆
Market Activity: ★★★☆☆
Farm Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Timber Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Lake / River Town: ★★★★★

Fernan Lake is polluted.
Fernan Lake is polluted.

Fernan Lake Village Community Description

Fernan Lake would be ranked much higher on this list if the lake itself wasn’t so filthy. Nobody swims in it because there is not enough ointment in the Spokane metro that will cure the rash one gets thereafter. The water quality of Fernan Lake is quite the tragedy, really. It’s located nothing more than a half mile from Lake Coeur d’Alene, and nothing more than a linear mile, literally right down Sherman Avenue, from downtown Coeur d’Alene. Yet, those that know Fernan Lake are those that know it’s filthy. Fernan Lake is like the disfigured gentleman from The Goonies that the bad guys keep hidden in the basement. Fernan Lake is like the gimp from Pulp Fiction that Zed and the pawn shop owner keep hidden in a chest in the basement. One simile or another, Fernan Lake is stuck in the basement.

Yet, here it sits. The western part of Fernan Lake is still very much within urbanized Coeur d’Alene, like one linear mile from downtown Coeur d’Alene. And the easterly edge is very much off the beaten path and marks the assent into the northern Rockies. Fernan Lake creates a dramatic juxtaposition between urban and wilderness.

Fernan Lake also creates a juxtaposition between perfect and imperfect. Municipal incorporation must be simple pursuant to Idaho state laws because all Fernan Lake Village is, at least by laymen’s appearance, is an early 1980s suburb, with simple ranchers that have single car garages, located on a polluted lake about a mile from downtown Coeur d’Alene. Fernan Lake is out-moded, outdated, and out-classed by a number of other cities within the Spokane metro.

Yet, here it sits. On a lake. On the front door to the northern Rockies. About 100 miles from Canada. About a half mile from Lake Coeur d’Alene. About one mile from downtown Coeur d’Alene. About 1,000 parts per million in water quality standards away from making it something spectacular. Until Fernan Lake becomes swimmable and folks are able to eat its fish without catching a bad case of cramps, Fernan Lake will remain the most obscure municipality within metro Spokane.

A typical neighborhood street in Fernan Lake.
A typical neighborhood street in Fernan Lake.
Houses on Fernan Lake, Idaho
Houses on Fernan Lake. I wouldn't send my kids into that water. Neither would these scientists at the University of Idaho.
Fernan Lake Public Dock
Meet Slocum. He’s an old witch doctor that hangs around Fernan Lake's public dock. Just kidding, Slocum is actually an old drunk that hangs around Fernan Lake's public dock. Be it witch doctor or old drunk, the advice remains the same -- don’t swim in Fernan Lake and don’t eat the fish. I sure miss north Idaho. Not enough witch doctors in my life lately.
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