Route of the Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail Adventure - The Last Continental Railroad Stretched from Milwaukee to Washington.
I had Relatives visiting from Southern California for the 4th of July week and needed to keep them busy with more than just Boating, Swimming, Golf, floating the river, Shopping and Eating. We had already done all the usual "Worlds Only's," Theme Parks, Water Parks, regular Tourist stuff, etc., etc, during their previous visits.
My Cousin Amy is really cute, thin and fit. So, she of course, decided the 46 mile "Route of the Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail" was just the thing for us all to do. And I mean ALL. She was not about to let anyone stay behind. So, with her very strong forceful encouragement we filled up 2 Suburbans and headed out on the 45-minute drive to the Montana / Idaho border to conquer The Hiawatha Trail.
Our ages ranged from 8 to 53 and we were a group of 12. We didn't need our own bikes; helmets or lights (for the pitch black tunnels). The Lookout Pass Ski Area provided us with all of that plus our Trail & Shuttle Passes for a very reasonable fee. The equipment was all in good order. You can use your own Mountain Bikes and just purchase the Trail and Shuttle passes. DO NOT forget to bring really good flash lights that fix to your bike or helmet. The tunnels are totally dark as dark can be! If you don't have a light (they are required) you can rent one for $4.00.
Check out the 2nd photo, Tim is displaying "The Hiawatha Stripe." When you are done with this fabulous ride that takes you through many long dark (Very Very DARK) and damp tunnels with water dripping down the tunnel's walls and from talactite looking fingers along the ceiling ... Your backside should look like the PHOTO .... It's actually a Badge of Honor, and proof you completed your mission.
Depending on your enthusiasm, it is either a 30 mile round trip with 2000 feet of elevation change, or 17 miles of level and downhill dirt track with a shuttle bus ride to regain your 1000 foot elevation loss.
Route of the Hiawatha has been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. Winding through eleven tunnels and over nine high steel trestles, past waterfalls, ridge top vistas, wildlife and numerous interpretive signs. These detailed signs provide information about the rich mining and railroading history in this scenic passage way through the spectacular Bitterroot Mountains, famous between 1911 and 1961 as the "Route of the Hiawatha" on the Milwaukee Road between Illinois and Washington.
The 46-mile route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The route of the Hiawatha is best known for the long, dark St. Paul Pass or "Taft" Tunnel which burrows for 1.8 miles under, yes UNDER the state line. The tunnel, which had been closed for repairs, reopened for use by mountain bikers, hikers, and wheelchair users the end of May 2001.
This is not a trail you'd want to bike in the winter. The snow in these rugged Bitterroot Mountains over the Idaho and Montana border would be tough enough, even without the bears that are rumored to hibernate in some of the tunnels. Some bears like to get started even before the biking season ends - October 2, 2005 - and the trail rangers have to scoot them out in the morning before they open the trail to riders at 8:30 in the morning. It stays open until 6:00 p.m.
Wouldn't you know I'd wait until I'm 50 to finally do it! I was extremely apprehensive since I have not been on a bike in at least 15 years, let alone Mountain Bike w/gears. I was absolutely sure they were going to bring me down in a stretcher. Well, they didn't and I'm ready to go again!
Don't keep telling yourself you're going to do the Route of the Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail in Northern Idaho someday. I talked about doing it for the past 7-years and just never seemed to get around to it. Well, just get up off that rear end, like we did, and go for it! It is an experience you will never forget. Whether you are 6 or 90, this is an awesome family outing or a rigorous workout depending on how you choose to ride it.
Entering the 1.8 Mile Tunnel on the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. This Tunnel is Darker than Dartk!!
We made it through the first Tunnel. 1.8 Miles of really DARK and WET tunnel. 1909 St. Paul Pass Tunnel 20 on the Trail of the Hiawatha.
Travis Jank, Tanis and Zuriah Irwin (of North Idaho) at the 1st Waterfall on Hiawatha Trail. Wayne Simmons, (of So.CA and North ID) in Background.
Zuriah Irwin pretends to feed chipmunk. These little guys were obviously used to being fed by humans. Never feed wildlife.
The Trestle in the background is one we will be crossing later in the day. Scarry Looking!
We are pausing to get up the nerve to cross the 1st Trestle. Really Scarry High Up!
Katie Simmons (of So.CA and North Idaho)makes it across one of the Hiawatha Trail Trustles. The rest should be a cinch!
Another beautiful waterfall on the Trail of the Hiawatha.
The Shortest Tunnel on the Hiawatha Trail
Everywhere you look is a scene worth painting!
Young deer at mouth of a Tunnel on the Hiawatha Trail.
Zuriah Irwin on one of the Trestle Bridges of the Trail of the Hiawatha. She is a BRAVE one! Just DON'T look DOWN!
Kristen Simmons (of So.CA and No. ID) It was tough to keep up with her on the trail!
Our Group (most of us) on the Trail of the Hiawatha. Joe Amlani, Wayne, Kirsten, Amy and Katie Simmons, Zuriah and Tanis Irwin, Travis and Tim Jank. Erik and Shannon Simmons (of So.CA) not in photo.
We ended our day with a great Porterhouse Steak and Pepper Bridge wine at the Wolf Lodge Inn, Coeur d'Alene, ID.
Joe Amlani (of So.CA) treated us all to a fabulous steak dinner, rocky mountain oysters and Pepper Bridge wine. Thank you Joe. You are the greatest!
I have many great photos of the Hiawatha Trail but don't want to spoil it for you. You'll just have to see the rest of it for your selves!
There is a nominal fee to ride the trail. The fee goes to pay the Trail Marshals to be out there everyday making sure that the route is clean and safe, and to help fund maintenance of the trail.
The fees are as follows: (as of 7/08/2008)
Day Pass: Adult $9, Child $5 (3-13 yrs) Children under 3 are Free, (All children must be accompanied by an adult)
Season Pass: $25 Adult, $12 Child (3 -13 yrs)
Shuttle Tickets: Adults $9 Child $6 (3-13 yrs)
If you need to rent Mountain Bikes Bike Rental Packages (includes helmet & light):
Adult front suspension mountain bike $28 + tax, Adult comfort bike with full suspension $32 + tax, Children (3-13 yrs) $18 + tax Tag-a-long bikes $18 + tax, Burley (canvas) trailers $20 + tax, Helmets $6 + tax, Lights $4 + tax, 6% Idaho sales tax will be added to all equipment rentals.
You can go to the Lookout Pass Web site for full details; Trail Passes, Shuttle Tickets, Rentals, Maps, etc.: www.skilookout.com/hiawatha/ or contact: Phone: (208)744-1301
Thanks for going on this Coeur d'Alene, Idaho ( North Idaho ) adventure with us. I hope you will be able to experience your own adventure real soon.
Please contact me with any of your Real Estate and/or Relocation needs:
Pam Jank, Realtor, GRI, CRS, ABR, RRS, PPS
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