The Route of the Hiawatha Bike Trail is located near the Montana/Idaho border and offers a leisurely bike ride with beautiful, scenic views. Photographer Roland Taylor (graphic designer of Treasure State Lifestyles) took the opportunity to explore the 15-mile trail and share his adventure with us.
Roland began at the Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area near the Montana/Idaho border along with his girlfriend, Trish McCoy, and his friends, Sean Tierney, James Rowen, Matthias Schalper, and Jolene Bach. Jolene’s son, Tate, and daughter, Mcquire, also came, along with Matthais and Jolene’s baby boy, Simon.
At the Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area, the group purchased shuttle tickets and rented bike helmets and lights (which are required on the trail). After gathering all the necessary gear, they drove about 8 miles to a large parking lot where the shuttle buses were waiting to load up the bikers and their equipment. Once everyone was onboard, the shuttle drove across the Montana/Idaho border and unloaded at the 1.66 mile-long Saint Paul Pass Tunnel.
The Saint Paul Pass Tunnel is one of ten along the Route of the Hiawatha. Part of what makes the bike ride so enjoyable is that it follows an old Milwaukee Railroad route through these tunnels and across seven trestles. In fact, the trail itself is named after the Olympian Hiawatha train which once traveled through the area on its route from Chicago to Seattle. The train stopped running in 1961 and by 1980 the railroad was bankrupt and abandoned.
After the railroad’s closure, the route was converted into a biking and hiking trail with the first 13 miles opened to the public in 1998. The Route of the Hiawatha now covers 15 miles across Montana and Idaho and has been named a “Hall of Fame” trail by the Rail-to-Trail Conservancy.
Roland can attest to the trail’s “Hall of Fame” status. As a photographer and outdoorsman, he enjoyed the unique and breathtaking views that the Route of the Hiawatha has to offer. And while he usually prefers an adventure with more challenge to it, Roland can appreciate the trail’s accessibility to all types of bikers – young, old, experienced, and amateur.
By the end of it, Roland was personally glad that the ride was all one-way, downhill. “All of my gears except one stripped out and my tire started going flat on me,” Roland says.
He got a little challenge in his adventure after all!
For more information on the Route of the Hiawatha, visit ridethehiawatha.com or call (208) 744-1301. Watch Sean Tierney’s video of the group’s bike ride.