North Idaho scenic bike trail opens Friday

Lookout Pass to open ski lifts for hikers and bikers June 12

click to enlarge One of the Hiawatha trail’s trestles
One of the Hiawatha trail’s trestles


Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area outside Mullan, Idaho, plans to open the Route of the Hiawatha scenic bike trail Friday.

Considered a crown jewel of the nation's rails-to-trails initiative, the Route of the Hiawatha winds through the Bitterroot Mountains in the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest along an abandoned section of the Milwaukee Railroad. Its 1.6-percent to 2-percent, all-downhill trail straddles the Idaho-Montana state line for 15 miles, includes 10 tunnels and traverses seven steel train trestles. Along the way, interpretive signs tell the story of the railroad, the forest and the region’s history. The trail will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 19.

More than 70,000 riders toured the trail last summer, according to Matt Sawyer, marketing director for Lookout Pass resort.

The ski area will open June 12 and offer lift-served downhill mountain biking and hiking, scenic chairlift rides up and down the mountain, a nine-hole frisbee golf course on the summit, a bungee jump, and huckleberry picking later in the season. The resort will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 19, with the exception of July 9-11, when only scenic lift rides and bungee jumping will be offered during the Mountain Archery Festival.

click to enlarge Lookout Pass ski lift with bike riders on it
Lookout Pass ski lift with bike riders on it

Lookout Pass has developed five top-to-bottom downhill mountain bike trails with more planned. Trails are family friendly and do not include jumps or wooden features.

People who plan to ride the trail are encouraged to make reservations in advance for the day they plan to visit, especially when renting equipment. A variety of different styles of bikes, lights, bike trailers and other gear are available to rent. Rental bikes can be delivered to the trailhead for an additional cost or people can self-shuttle rental bikes from the Lookout Pass Ski Area to the trailhead, a distance of seven miles. The resort provides hitch-mounted bike racks or strap-on racks at no additional charge to those who rent bikes.

Special events this summer include three full-moon night rides on the trail June 24, July 24, and Aug. 22. The Hiawatha Back to Nature Trail Run is scheduled for June 13.

The resort is 55-minutes east of Coeur d'Alene on I-90 at Exit 0. More information is available online at ridethehiawatha.com and skilookout.com.

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