We made our way to Montana on Monday with the plan to stay in St. Regis, MT to bike the Hiawatha trail. As we crossed into Montana, we switched to Mountain Time so that kind of messed with our schedules a little, meaning I have to work later into the day. The Hiawatha trail closed at 6PM MT so we only had a couple of hours between the time I got off work and the time the trail “closed” to bike down and then back up.
It’s been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. Winding through nine tunnels and over seven high steel trestles, the 15-mile route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana.
The route of the Hiawatha is best known for the long, dark St. Paul Pass or “Taft” Tunnel which burrows for 1.66 miles under the state line. The tunnel, which had been closed for repairs, reopened for use by mountain bikers, hikers, and wheelchair users the end of May 2001.
Most people bike down 15 miles and then catch a shuttle back to the top where they parked their cars. Well, we didn’t have that option since the last shuttle was at 4:15PM. And, what is the fun in that? We wanted to bike back up! It was gorgeous!
The trail is operated and maintained with fees collected from all users. A shuttle bus can transport you and your bike between Roland & Pearson trailheads.
- If you plan on using the shuttle, an early start is recommended – especially if you are riding with children or plan on spending time at the interpretive sites. Please note the shuttle times and plan your trip accordingly.
- Wearing sunglasses in the tunnels is like riding blindfolded. Take those glasses off before entering a tunnel to avoid sudden encounters with the tunnel walls and other obstacles!
- Bring plenty of water for your ride. Many factors in addition to the physical effort of riding can bring on dehydration. When you stop to enjoy the scenery, take a drink of water – your body will thank you!
Trail passes, shuttle tickets and mountain bike rentals are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area located right alongside Interstate 90, Exit 0, at the Idaho-Montana state line, 12 miles east of historic Wallace, Idaho. Lodge and bike rental shop open at 8:00 AM PDT. The trail is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM PDT daily starting May 27 through September 25. Visit http://www.ridethehiawatha.com to learn more!
We even made a little video: