Monday, January 19, 2009

All Aboard Your Bikes In North Idaho.

Yes, that is a photo of Brian and I with our friends, Drew and Tina Williams, (visiting us at American Country B&B) ready to board our bikes and begin riding along one of the most breathtaking scenic stretches of railroad in the country, "The Route of the Hiawatha," in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

We wound through ten tunnels and over seven steel trestles ,up to 230 feet high, that gave us a bird's eye view of the treetops below. The tunnel that started our journey, the St. Paul Pass or "Taft" Tunnel, burrowed for 1.6 miles under the Idaho/Montana state line. This is an absolutely pitch black, cavernous tunnel and lights on your bicycles are a must!








The railroad was carved into the Bitterroot Mountains by the "Milwaukee Railroad." The construction of this Pacific extension of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad took thousands of workers and was completed in record time in 1911.


Thank goodness the 15 mile ride from the East Portal trail head on this unpaved compacted gravel trail followed a very easy 2% grade downhill, because neither Brian nor I had been on a bicycle for well over 15 years. Of course, we elected to ride the shuttle bus from Pearson back to Roland where we had begun our journey.





Along the trail there are numerous interpretive signs to read that provide information about the rich mining and railroad history. The sharp eyed adventurer will find all types of flora and fauna to photograph.







Things to consider:
  • Usually opens on Memorial Day weekend
  • Usually open through Ocober 5th from 8:30 AM to 6 PM PDT
  • Day Use Pass required: $9 for 13 & over $5 for those between 3 - 13
  • Children under 3 are free
  • All children under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
  • Shuttle Bus available between Roland and Pearson Trailheads, charge of $9 ($6 ages3-13)
  • More information on many trails available from http://www.friendsofcdatrails.org/
  • More information on "The Hiawatha" at http://www.visitidaho.org/
  • Located adjacent to I-90 at the Idaho/Montana state line 12 miles East of Wallace, ID
  • Ample parking at the East Portal (which is in Montana)
  • Helmets & proper lighting equipment are required for bikers
  • Dogs are not allowed
  • Make sure to take food, water, lightweight jacket (it is cold in the tunnels), extra lights, rain gear, and a bicycle repair kit
  • There are restroom facilities in several locations along the trail
  • Bicycles, helmets and lights can be rented at Lookout Pass Ski area on the Idaho border www.skilookout.com/hiawatha
  • Fees go toward maintaining the trail, part of the "Rails to Trails" program
  • Contact the U.S. Forest Service for additional information 208-245-4517

1 comment:

Rick said...

That looks like a really fun outing. I would love to take my kids down and do that trail. We do a lot of mountain biking up here.

Rick
Good Karma Inn in Homer Alaska