Outdoors

Route of the Hiawatha opens to bikes on Saturday

Bicyclists exit the Taft Tunnel and emerge into the surrounding beauty of the national forest. The Taft Tunnel is the longest of several railroad tunnels along the Route of the Hiawatha, a trail that follows the path of the long-gone railroad through the region on the Montana-Idaho border.  (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Bicyclists exit the Taft Tunnel and emerge into the surrounding beauty of the national forest. The Taft Tunnel is the longest of several railroad tunnels along the Route of the Hiawatha, a trail that follows the path of the long-gone railroad through the region on the Montana-Idaho border. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

BICYCLING — The Route of The Hiawatha rail-trail near Lookout Pass is set to open for the 2014 summer season on Friday, May 24.

The 15-mile route for mountain biking or hiking follows a portion of the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad on a mostly downhill grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., (off Interstate 90) and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho.

Top attractions include seven trestles towering up to 230 feet over the creeks and forest and 10 tunnels, including the 1.7-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel  (Taft Tunnel) at the Montana-Idaho border.  

Pedal the route down and back on your own for a 30-miler or ride the downhill route and board a shuttle bus for a lift back to the start.

Trail passes ($6-$10), shuttle bus tickets ($6-$9) and mountain bike rentals ($20-$30) are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area 12 miles east of Wallace.

  • By the way, the bike rentals they provide are GREAT smooth-riding fat-tire bikes, complete with helmets and EXTRA-BRIGHT headlights.  You will be very glad you had the sense to have a VERY BRIGHT headlight for going through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.  Trust me.

The trail will be open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., through Sept. 28.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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