ROUTE OF THE HIAWATHA
WHAT: A 14.4-mile section of converted railroad through the Bitterroot Mountains, best experienced on a mountain or cyclocross bike. The trail starts near Taft, Mont., and passes into Idaho through a 1.66-mile tunnel. Most of the trail is in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and is highlighted by nine tunnels and seven high trestles. Last year 37,502 people used the trail, the most since it opened in 1998.
SHUTTLE: Starting on the east end of the trail, the entire ride is flat or downhill on a 2 percent grade. Buses are available to shuttle riders back to their cars, making the ride easily accessible.
COST: Trail passes are $10 for adults, $6 for children (6-13). Shuttle passes are $9 for adults, $6 for children.
BIKE RENTALS: Bike rentals are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area for $30-$36. Bikes for children are $20.
SAFETY: Helmets and lights are required on the trail. Jackets are also recommended for passing through the chilly longer tunnels.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: The Route of the Hiawatha was used to save lives during the Great Fire of 1910. Timothy Egan’s 2009 book “The Big Burn” is a fascinating account of the fire and how it helped shape the U.S. Forest Service.
MORE TRAILS: With as many as 1,000 users per day, the Route of the Hiawatha is the Silver Valley’s most popular bike trail. The Northern Pacific Trail is a 21-mile multi-use trail from Mullan, Idaho, to Taft, Mont. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a 72-mile paved path from Plummer, Idaho, to Mullan. Both trails can be linked to the Hiawatha.
STAY HERE: Kellogg’s Morning Star Lodge (rates starting at $195 per night) offers access to summer recreation at Silver Mountain Ski Area and Silver Rapids, an indoor water park. Find a directory of other area hotels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds at SilverValleyChamber.com.
MORE INFO: ridethehiawatha.com