This is the one that started it all. (Not the moose, the trail)
This was my first rail-trail. My daughter was a mere one-year-old and I pulled her behind my bike on a trailer. If I remember right, they didn't have a shuttle then, or if they did, we didn't use it. Hiawatha Bike Trail - you had me at tunnel... or was it trestle?
Since then, I have ridden many rail-trails, but the Route of the Hiawatha will always have a special place in my heart. My daughter is now a teenager and we've been back to the Hiawatha trail one time since the original. It is truly a work of art. (It's actually more of a "play of Art" since my dad, Arthur, joined us on both trips.)
Just so you know up front, the Hiawatha Trail is one of the few rail-trails that charges a fee for riding on it. A "Day Use" adult pass costs $8. But it is well worth it, and the money goes for a good cause. Children are only $4. For more information, visit their website.
Most people access the trail via shuttle bus which takes you and your bike to the highest point on the trail, right at the Idaho/Montana border. Then, it's all downhill from there. You will pass through ten tunnels and over seven breathtaking trestles. It is due to the tunnels that lights are not only recommended, but required.
Shortly after beginning your ride, you will cross over the Montana/Idaho border. Actually, you will pass under the border since you will be in an extremely long and incredibly dark St. Paul tunnel. Not only will you need a light on the front of your bike (or helmet) for this tunnel, but it's a good idea to have a light on the back of your bike. This comes in handy when riding w/ a partner or group so you can keep track of each other.
Besides lights, you should also pack a jacket/sweater for the tunnel; even on warm days, it's quite cool & breezy in the tunnel.
And whatever you do, don't forget your camera. The views from the trestles are fantastic.
This is a remarkable family trail both for its beauty and for its educational value. The signposts along the way are quite interesting as are the waterfalls and wildlife.
If you are a rails-to-trails fanatic (like yours truly) you must put this one on your bucket list.
End Points: Montana/Idaho border (Lookout Pass) on east end to Pearson, Idaho on west end (eventually the trail will continue into MT on the east end and connect w/ the Trail of the Coeur d' alenes on the west end.
Length: 13 miles
Open: year round
Best Time of Year: late spring, summer, early fall
Other names: Hiawatha Trail, Mullan Pass - Lookout Pass Loop