The Hiawatha Trail is a rails-to-trails bicycle trail, located near the border between Idaho and Montana…12 miles east of Wallace, Idaho.
The route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana.
Construction of the railroad tracks began in 1906. The last train passed through in 1980. After that the line was abandoned. With government funding and private donations, the rails were removed, and the construction of the bicycle and hiking trail was started in 1997. The Idaho portion of the trail opened May 1998. The Montana portion opened May 2001.
It’s 15 miles one way. The fee to use the trail is $9. You can cycle one way and take a shuttle back… for another $9 fee. It didn’t take me long to figure out why there is a shuttle back. The entire one way is downhill on a slight grade, yet still downhill. Thus the shuttle to bring people back up.
It’s really, really beautiful. We went thru 8 tunnels.
Right at the trailhead is the long, dark Taft Tunnel, which burrows for 1.7 miles under the Idaho/Montana state line. It is cold and pitch black in there. A light [or two] is a must. After mid way, it does get kinda freaky to be in there where it’s cold, and with NO light anywhere. There is water dripping from the ceiling. NO graffiti on the tunnel walls.
31 miles is expected to be added on the Montana side.
This is me with my headlight on, getting ready to go thru another tunnel.
The trail itself is rocky. I was concerned about blowing one of my little bike tires, but didn’t. There is NO trash on the trail. There are a couple water jugs/containers along the path if you need more water. A few wooden “outhouses”. A bunch of benches to rest and enjoy the view.
And the view?
Spectacular. Rolling mountains covered with evergreen trees. Pine smell. You can hear the water from waterfalls and streams far below.
The path takes you over old train trestles/bridges.
Just too cool!
You see other train trestles.
NOTE: There are no bike rentals at any of the trailheads. Helmets and lights are required.
The Hiawatha Bike Trail is owned by all of us. It is on U. S. National Forest land administered by the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.