We have been talking about going to ride the Hiawatha Trail for years now. Finally a few weeks ago, everything came together and we managed to make the trip over to Idaho to ride. The trail ($10/adult; $6/kid aged 6-13)) is 15 miles long, with a 1.6% downgrade going along the abandoned railroad bed from the Milwaukee Railroad. Tickets are available online or at the trailhead.
Along the trail, you bike through 10 tunnels and cross over 7 trestles. There are stunning views almost the entire trail and the path is well-maintained.
The very first tunnel is 1.7 miles long and very dark. Lights are absolutely necessary. It was the perfect place for J (age 7) to put the WOOM City bike lights to use – and they helped light everyone else’s way. Many riders just use headlamps. Bike lights are great too. The darkness can be a bit unnerving and it’s easy to get disoriented – we made sure to talk our kids through it before we started riding. The photo below shows one of the shortest tunnels.
At the end of the trail, you can pay for a shuttle ($9 for adults, $6 for kids aged 6-13) to bring you back to right before the first tunnel (which you still have to bike back through to your car). You can see there is quite the line-up of waiting bikers below!
Mtn Papa and his friend chose to bike back up hauling a couple of the smallest kids. Sounds like it was tougher than they imagined it would be (but, totally doable!) You just don’t realize how much downhill you are doing as you ride.
We did haul balance bikes for a couple of the smaller rider and let them ride stretches of the trail. We recommend balance bikes with pneumatic tires and, of course, plan for slower riding.
The trail is open 8:30 am – 5:00 pm through September 25th. We do recommend riding in the morning to allow yourself plenty of time to catch the shuttle before service ends for the day.
Bike rentals are also available if needed (but we think bringing your own is so much more comfortable for a long ride).
While there is dispersed camping closer, we choose to camp at a campground about 20 minutes away from the start of the trail. We also recommend checking out Wallace, Idaho for more biking and cute museums, etc.
Have you done the Hiawatha? We’d love to hear your experiences too!
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