Hiawatha Rail Trail Family Trip
The Hiawatha is a rail trail in northern Idaho that follows the route of the historic mining railroad.
The trail includes all kinds of incredible tunnels and trestles as it snakes through the Bitteroot Mountains. It was recently restored and provides a great family route with gentle grades that make it easy for the whole family to ride together.
We will also ride on the Centennial Trail and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. This route truly provides the right amount of mileage for everyone. The mileage is quite manageable for those looking for fewer miles; swimming, playgrounds and beautiful scenery abound.
The camping on this trip is beautiful. As always it is cushy and a great way to introduce the kids to both biking and camping.
After meeting at the bike shop in Coeur d’Alene, we will shuttle east to the border of Idaho and Montana to the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. From the East Portal Trailhead, we will plunge into the two mile long Taft Tunnel—lights will be provided! We will emerge at the West Portal to be greeted by stunning views in all directions. From here we continue through several shorter tunnels and over many rustic trestles. Along the way we will learn about the tenacious miners who built this incredible railroad bed and the unique history of the Milwaukee Road Railway. Camp tonight will be on the banks of a creek—perfect for an afternoon dip or a great departure point for some extra credit afternoon miles. TOTAL MILEAGE: 12 - 20 miles
This morning we will ride from camp along the North Fork of the St. Joe River practicing our mountain biking skills on an old railroad bed that has been converted to a trail. We will follow this trail, just as the trains did in the early 1900s to the historic railroad town of Avery, a town that serviced the Milwaukee Road Railway and survived the Great Fire of 1910. We will eat lunch at a quaint railroad museum and continue on the old railroad bed following the St. Joe River. After our ride we will shuttle to Heyburn State Park where we will set up camp next to Lake Coeur d’Alene. This deep blue lake is 25 miles long with 135 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 120 feet! More options are available, including an extra ride or swimming in the lake. TOTAL MILEAGE: 21 miles, longer options available
Today we will work on our singletrack riding! Your guides will conduct a mountain bike clinic in the morning to prepare you for an easy and fun introduction to singletrack mountain biking along the lake. After our short singletrack ride we will take a break from the bikes and go on a nature walk to discover the unique riparian biodiversity of the area. It is common to see a Great Blue Heron with wingspans reaching up to 6 feet! Also keep a look out for osprey, otters and even moose. After the hike we will jump back on our bikes and ride to camp. Again this afternoon we have options—swimming, biking a trail or lounging on the dock. TOTAL MILEAGE: 3 - 14 miles riding, 1 - 3 miles hiking
Today we will jump on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, another rail to trail that was converted to a bike path. It crosses a dramatic bridge over Lake Coeur d’Alene which takes us right into Harrison, a small town which boasts a population of 203 people. In Harrison there is a playground, a swimming hole and an ice cream parlor! There will be an afternoon ride option but you can always choose to lie on the sandy beach. We will camp close by to the lake. What could be better! TOTAL MILEAGE: 7 miles, longer options available
On our final day we will depart from Harrison and continue north on the Trail of the Coeur d‘ Alenes. The trail goes through pristine wetlands that are home to many different forms of wildlife, just keep your eyes trained. Today you can crank out the miles on the paved path. We will end at the Cataldo Mission State Park where you will get to visit the oldest building in Idaho! We will then shuttle back to Coeur d’Alene and say our good-byes. TOTAL MILEAGE: 15 - 20 miles
Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventure.
Riding Surface: Gravel and dirt roads, some singletrack, pavement and railroad grade bike paths.
Overall Rating: Introductory/Intermediate
Technical Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Physical Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Altitude: 2,100 - 5,000 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.