Route of the Hiawatha

Mountain Bike Trail

photo by Jim Carpenter, 2001; click to enlarge! Located just off I-90 on the Idaho Montana border, midway between major airports in Spokane, WA, and Missoula, MT, the Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail is a scenic section of abandoned rail-bed from the Milwaukee Road that the Taft Tunnel Preservation Society, a grassroots Wallace non-profit organization, and the U.S. Forest Service turned into a world class non-motorized trail.

Opened in 1998, and enhanced in 2001 with the inclusion of the 1.7 mile long Taft Tunnel, The Route of the Hiawatha has become a very popular adventure for locals and tourists. 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. For the round trip, most people will travel from Wallace and park at Pearson, overlooking the North Fork of the St. Joe River off Forest Road 456. You are thereby climbing the 2% grade during the cool of the morning. Those wanting the shorter experience (3-4 hours) will park at the East Portal, located ~2 miles off I-90 at the Taft Exit in Montana, 5 miles from Lookout Pass on the Idaho border. Since the shuttle connects the West Portal of the Taft Tunnel, a.k.a. Roland, and the lower trailhead at Pearson, riders who park at the East Portal must ride back to their vehicles from Roland.

Original Route of the Hiawatha Logo
The Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail will be open daily from May 24 thru September 28, 2014. The trail, trailheads, and facilities are open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM PDT. During the peak season, June 23 thru September 1, the hours are extended to 5:30 PM (Pacific Daylight Time).

The 2014 Day Use Pass for the Route is $10 for people over 13, and $6 for those between 6 and 13. Children under 6 are free. As always, all children under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. More information.

A shuttle bus between Roland and Pearson Trailheads operates daily throughout most of the season. An extra late afternoon shuttle run will be added in July.
More information.

 

If you would like to visualize traveling along The Route of the Hiawatha BEFORE you ride it, AND you have the FREE Google Earth program installed, check out this 3D tour from Taft (I-90, exit 5) to the Pearson Trailhead with stops along the way: taft2pearson.kml.

You will also enjoy "seeing" how to go from Mullan, Idaho, 21 miles to the Taft Exit on the multi-use Northern Pacific Trail recently enhanced by The Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails, a non-profit corporation committed to promoting ALL the bicycle trails in our region. Last year, the organization signed the "Alternate Scenic Milwaukee Road" that runs south from Pearson to Avery on the Saint Joe River.

    If you wish to start your adventure at the lower trailhead, Pearson, you will need to drive about twenty miles from Wallace over Moon Pass. This dramatic recent Google Earth 3D animation, wallace2pearson.kml, leads you south out of Wallace on King Street, past several hiking and bicycling trailheads, over Moon Pass and down to the North Fork of the Saint Joe River, which flows past Pearson on its way to Avery.

The Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail takes you through NINE cavernous tunnels, around a forever-closed tunnel, and over SEVEN high trestles, past waterfalls, ridge top vistas 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. click to buy The Milwaukee Road in Idaho from Amazon.com More information may be found in Chapters 4 and 5 of Milwaukee Road in Idaho by Stanley W. Johnson, Museum of North Idaho, 2003.

Helmets and proper lighting equipment are required for bikers, and a $10 usage fee ($6 ages 6-13) applies to everyone, hikers and bikers alike. Fees are collected by the concessionaire's marshalls who also provide information, emergency help, first aid and water to those in need. However, wise trail users will make sure that they are properly provisioned with food, water, extra lights, and bicycle repair kits before embarking on this adventure. Dogs are not allowed on the Route of the Hiawatha.

The concessionaire maintains a shuttle bus service between Roland and Pearson Trailheads. There is a $9 charge ($6 for ages 6-13) for the shuttle, which operates 7 days a week beginning June 9, 2014. The shuttle normally runs from 11 AM to 4:15 PM, except during the peak season, June 23 thru September 1, when the hours are extended to include a 5:45 PM Pearson pickup on Saturdays and Sundays. In times of inclement weather or for other reasons, changes in the shuttle schedule will be posted at the East Portal, Roland, Moss Creek, and Pearson trailheads on the Route of the Hiawatha. After September 7, the shuttle operates on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays only, until closing on September 28, 2014.

click to see the Route of the Hiawatha
  • concessionaire: Lookout Pass Ski Area
     

new item       Interactive 3D map of the Route of the Hiawatha
created by Three Scale Strategy, Inc.
Idaho Panhandle National Forest, US Forest Service, USDA
Lookout Pass Ski Area and the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail are operated by Lookout Associates, LLC, pursuant to special use permits with the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Additional information concerning the Lookout Pass Ski Area and the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail can be found at Lookout Associates' websites, which can be accessed through this "official site" hyperlink, or by telephoning Lookout Associates at (208) 744-1301. Lookout Associates does not maintain the website you are now reading and is not responsible for its content.
photo by Jim Carpenter, 2001; click to enlarge!
current view of I-90 traffic
camera facing northwest
at Exit 0
You need to be here! Moss Creek Bear Cub
This young black bear was at the Moss Creek Trailhead several summers ago.
Deer in Tunnel 22
 
Thank you for your interest in this Silver Valley attraction. Please note that my webwork is not associated with the current Route of the Hiawatha concessionaire, but is based on public information, my experience renting bicycles for this Forest Service concession during the summer of 2001, and my work counseling recreational tourists at the Wallace Mining Museum and Information Center for a dozen summers. I am a member of the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails, a non-profit corporation that actively promotes ALL regional bicycle activities, adventures, and resources.
Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
Marsh Scientific Services
Interested in this or other nearby biking and tourist attractions?
    Use this Inquiry and Response Form to contact the
  • Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails, the
  • Wallace Chamber of Commerce, and
  • Lookout Associates, LLC

The Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails is a non-profit corporation that was established in 2003 to promote, educate, encourage and assist in the development and maintenance of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and other north Idaho bike trails. They are currently distributing the seventh edition of their Recreational Trails of the Idaho Panhandle that includes a map of the Route of the Hiawatha, as well as a large map showing the new 72 mile long and FREE Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes paved bike path. In addition, the Friends are compiling a series of documented loop trips that may be downloaded for free, and they are working with the Rails to Trails Conservancy to complete a 185 mile loop that will include the Route of the Hiawatha as part of the Old Milwaukee Road rail-trail system.

The concerned citizens of Wallace were instrumental in developing the Route of the Hiawatha regional resource in concert with the Forest Service. Each year the Wallace Chamber of Commerce publishes a 56 page booklet about the town, its history and businesses, and the many regional attractions.

Lookout Associates, LLC, is the concessionaire for the Route of the Hiawatha.

Please send me the Recreational Trails brochure.
Please send me a Wallace Chamber information packet.
Please send me a Lookout Associates information packet.
 
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Thank you for your interest in Wallace and the Silver Valley,
Greg Marsh

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