On the route of the Hiawatha

Sherrie and I had a fun adventure this week. We traveled with our friends the Webres (and Marie’s sister Julie) to the Idaho panhandle to ride the Hiawatha bike trail (Ride the Hiawatha). The Hiawatha is an old train route which goes over trestles and through tunnels. The bike ride is about 15 miles long and all downhill, and it’s over well-maintained gravel roads, so it’s easy and fun.

Here we are at the trailhead; the smiles never left our faces.

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And here’s the rest of the crowd:

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Immediately on beginning the trail, you enter a 1.5 mile long tunnel which is not lit and in which “rain” falls from the ceiling (there were no monsters, just a few puddles):

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The tunnel was cool (45-50 degrees), even chilly, as we began our ride.

The ride has 10 tunnels and seven trestles; here’s one of the trestles:


The road over the trestles is wide and quite stable; I’m sure it would have been more interesting in the old days when it was rickety wood. It was fun to look over the edge, if a bit scary:

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The scenery is gorgeous, but we were a little disappointed that smoke from fires all over Oregon, British Columbia, Washington and Idaho made the air smoky and diminished visibility, as you can tell from this photo (no blue skies to be seen):

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We stopped at one point to walk away from the trail a bit and see a stream coming off the mountain; the smiles on these faces say it all:

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After the ride is over, you could in principle ride back up (1000 foot climb over 15 miles wouldn’t be that bad), but we decided to take the shuttle back. The shuttle drops you off such that you have to ride back through the long tunnel at the beginning again. I absolutely LOVED it, as it was hot by then and the cool, refreshing air in the tunnel was great.

We never figured out why the trail is called the “Hiawatha,” but we learned a lot about train track development in the late 1800s, and we had a fun time together.

The next day, we went to the Coeur D’Alene (CDA) area for a little hiking and shopping. We first went to the Mineral Ridge trail (Mineral Ridge Trail). It’s a bit of climb to the top of the hill, but you get great views of Lake CDA from the top:

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Next, we went to Tubb’s hill (Tubb’s Hill Trail), right in/near downtown CDA. It’s a hub of activity for people to enjoy the lake. Lots and lots of folks swim on it’s beaches, and ride boats and jet skis near the shores:

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Sherrie and Julie and I scared up a whitetail deer on the north side of the trail. He was still in velvet and was 5-6 points on each side and beautiful. I didn’t get a picture because he bounded away rather quickly. I didn’t know whitetail live in central/northern Idaho …

Sherrie and I spent a little time one evening in the town of Wallace, ID, which is really the town that time forgot:


Seriously, it’s like going back in time 50+ years. We ate at a BBQ place in the town center. Right near there is a manhole cover declaring Wallace ID as the “Center of the Universe.” Apparently, Wallace had a spat with the EPA over the safety of the water, etc. and the EPA (apparently) famously said, “If a thing cannot be disproven, it is thereby proven.” For a little light humor, see Wallace Idaho is the center of the universe.

Sherrie and I had the obligatory picture taken with the manhole cover:


Fortunately, traffic is light enough that you can pose for such a photo in the center of town without fear of being run over.

One of the things that impressed us in Wallace is the number of petunia “balls” seen all over town:


Many of them had automatic watering systems, but some didn’t, so Wallace must employ people (or they volunteer) to water and help make their town beautiful.

2 thoughts on “On the route of the Hiawatha

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