Since 1998, The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have jointly managed the Cougar Bay Nature Preserve, protecting the area while offering visitors recreational opportunities to explore it. The preserve encompasses 88 acres of marshland and forested land, with two miles of trails just a few miles from downtown Coeur d'Alene.
Osprey, bald eagles, and other birds of prey are regularly seen at Cougar Bay, and the area provides habitat for 27 rare bird species, as well as beavers, otters, deer and the occasional moose. The trails into Cougar Bay's preserve start at a marsh area and run alongside it before climbing through fir trees to a high observation post. There are limited views along the trail, but visitors should take their time walking slowly and enjoying the various songbirds and other flora and fauna that will be found along the way.
Unlike many other conservation projects managed by The Nature Conservancy that are off limits to visitors, Cougar Bay is set up to encourage recreation. The hiking trails are well maintained, birdwatching is encouraged, and canoes and kayaks can put in at the parking area and paddle around the marshlands at Cougar Bay.
The area is open year round and is free to explore. Trail maps are provided at the parking area. There are no restrooms at the preserve. Also, dogs are permitted at Cougar Bay and must be kept on-leash at all times.