HIAWATHA BIKE TRAIL – Part 1   Montana & Idaho

Biking Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: June 26, 2022

This was the best bicycle trail we have ever been on. This bike trail is so outstanding it is one of the few named to the “Rail Trail Hall of Fame”. Winding through ten train tunnels and seven high steel trestles, this 15-mile route crossed the Bitterroot Mountains beginning in Montana and ending in Idaho. Each trestle was quite the engineering feat. The trail began at 4,147 feet elevation at the east portal and would gradually drop almost 1,000 feet to the end at Pearson, Idaho.  

We used strong bike lights because at the beginning was a 1.7-mile former railroad tunnel that was pitch dark, wet and cold – a constant 47 degrees. This Taft Tunnel or also known as the St. Paul Pass Tunnel, was built in 1909 and burrows under the state line. It actually saved many lives as workers hid inside during the horrible 1910 forest fires.  Emerging from the tunnel in bright warm sunlight we were greeted by a beautiful waterfall, one of several on the trail. Biking down the trail we had incredible views of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest with tens of thousands of Doulas Fir trees and Ponderosa Pine trees. Periodically on the trail, kiosks told the history of the railroad line and the making of the tunnel and tracks.

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