Bicycling

Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Bicycling | 0 comments

Rails-to-Trails

Trail of the Coeur D’ Alenes

The “Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes” is one of the most spectacular and popular bike trails in the western United States. The Trail of The Coeur d’Alenes nearly spans the Panhandle of Idaho as it runs along rivers, beside lakes and through Idaho’s historic Silver Valley.

Much of the trail today follows the original Union Pacific rail line, giving it a gentle grade. Here, you will find 73 miles of newly laid asphalt that’s perfect for road bikers and in-line skaters.

The uniqueness of the trail isn’t simply the beautiful scenery and attractions along its route, but it’s an innovative solution to the environmental problems caused by the early miners in the Valley.

Route of the Hiawathwa

The Route of the Hiawatha trail is the crown jewel of all rail-to-trail projects in the country. Over 15 miles of railroad track has been converted into a beautiful biking trail with a gentle 2 percent downhill grade. There are ten tunnels and seven trestle bridges up to 230 feet high. The 1.7 mile long St. Paul Pass (“Taft”) tunnel is a highlight of the trail.

With an incredible history beginning in 1906 of construction, hardships and calamities, unprecedented electrification, and of carrying passengers and freight from the Northwest to the Midwest, generations of railroaders kept the Milwaukee Road running until it finally went bankrupt in 1977. The last train west of Butte, Montana passed through in 1980. After that the line was abandoned.

With government funding and private donations, the rails were removed, and the construction of this spectacular wilderness bicycle and hiking trail was undertaken in 1997. The Idaho portion of the trail first opened for public use on May 29, 1998. The St. Paul Pass, or “Taft” Tunnel, was completed in May of 2001, and is now open for bike riding.

The Hiawatha Bike Trail is on U. S. National Forest land administered by the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. It is operated by Lookout Pass Ski Area under a special use permit of the U. S. Forest Service

Fees go toward maintaining the trail, constructed as part of the “Rails to Trails” program, which converts unused railways to trails.

Season: Summer, Fall, Spring
Hours: Open Late May thru Early Oct. 8:30am-6pm PDT

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *