The Hiawatha Trail

We took our kids on the Hiawatha Trail. It used to be part of the Milwaukee Railroad.

“It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46 mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for 8771 ft. (1.66 miles) under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line.”

Now they’ve covered the tracks with dirt and you mountain bike over it.  It’s a beautiful path.  We put tag-a-longs on the back of my bike and Kevin’s so that the two youngest road with us and our oldest road his own bike.

The first 1.6 miles are in a completely black tunnel.  You have to wear headlamps or a bike light to make it.  On both sides of the tunnel there are 18 inch ditches for water runoff.

(I highly recommend learning to ride with a tag-a-long and kid before entering a slightly sloped, completely black tunnel with water dripping from the ceiling.  It throws balancing off just a wee bit.)

It took us 3ish hours to get down the path.  It was mostly downhill.  We paused occasionally to read the historic signs along the way and to eat unhealthy snacks.  We thought of riding back up but the shuttle was right there waiting for us.  It was a sign.  And we didn’t realize how tired we were until we sat down.  And closed our eyes.

They drop you off at the end of the tunnel so you have to bike through it again.  Seeing as we were experts at riding our bikes in the dark, it went much faster the second time.
I recommend riding bikes in a dark tunnel.  It makes you feel like you’ve done something incredibly cool and dangerous without actually doing anything cool or dangerous.

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