Best Bites Travel: The Hiawatha Trail

CATEGORIES: Sara, The Scoop, Travel

Note: Not a sponsored post.

I went on a fun international trip earlier this summer (I’ll show you guys some pictures from that in another post) so for our family summer vacation we decided to stick a little closer to home.  We live in southwestern Idaho, in the Boise area, so we ventured up to the Northern part of the state.  I love Northern Idaho because it’s so lush and green, and it reminds me of western Washington, where I’m from originally.  We checked off lots of things on our Idaho bucket list, but one in particular was the Hiawatha bike trail.  It runs through the top of the state of Idaho and a little into Montana.

Start of the hiawatha

This trail was once a functioning railway.  It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country, and now it’s open to bikers and hikers.  The trail is a little over 15 miles, but with a slight downgrade, so it’s really pleasant and family friendly (including pregnant ladies!)  You can bring all of your own gear (bikes, helmets, etc.) or rent them all at the trailhead.  Since we had enough to pack with us on a road trip, we reserved everything online and it was all ready and waiting for us when we got there.  My 8 year old rode a bike, I pulled my youngest in a trailer (which was nice because then we could pack gear in the trailer, like snacks, my camera, etc.).

trailer on the Hiawatha

And for my middle son, we rented a tag-a-long, which is a bike that attaches to an adult bike, creating a sort of tandem.  It was great since he could just coast along if he got tired.

tag along bike attachment

The coolest thing about the Hiawatha is that because it was a functioning railway, the trail traverses through old tunnels burrowed through the mountains, and trestles hundreds of feet above the forest floor.   This was the first tunnel, the longest, at over 1 1/2 miles long!

train tunnel

Inside was cold and pitch black, so headlamps or bike lights are required, which my kids thought was awesome.


It was also really wet inside the tunnels, since there’s moving water around many of them.

dirty back

We were biking on a hot summer day so those cold tunnels felt amazing.  The trail goes in and out of tunnels and then over trestles like this one, seen across the valley.

Train tressle

I’m not a fan of heights,

bike on tressle

and some of these were REALLY high, but totally safe and secure. It was actually really awesome.

looking down

Other times the trail passes through meadows and past creeks.  It really is a nice, comfortable ride.

bike trai

The whole thing start to finish took about 2 1/2 hours.  There are tons of stopping places where you can get off your bike, read some history facts, or simply enjoy the view.

valley view

And when you’re all done, there’s a shuttle at the end that takes you and your gear and shuttles you back so you don’t have to ride up the 15 miles again.  My kind of bike ride.

All in all, it was a great experience and my kids loved it.  There is lodging and camping available near the trail if you’re interested in taking a trip that direction.  You can bundle a lot of other things in there too, as it’s close to Silverwood Theme Park, and the beautiful cities of Coeur d’ Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho.  Check out the Hiawatha web page for all the deets!  Have any of you done it?  Wanted to do it?


Note:  Just a reminder of this actual giveaway we have going on.  Check it out and get snapping pics to win $$$!





  1. I love bike rides! I haven’t ridden a bike since it got stolen…. more than 6 years ago. I totally miss my bike. Anyway! Vacations near home are always the best because you’re not totally exhausted sitting in a car for over 4+ hours to get to a destination. What a beautiful place!

    1. Its not scary at all! I am super afraid of heights and it is amazing, but I don’t go near the sides:-) I stay right in the middle. its a little wider then a car lane.

  2. So I want to see your Idaho bucket list! I am not from here but we moved here a few years ago and I’d love to see what your family must-do’s are!

  3. That is such a great idea for a family vacation ~ I never thought I would want to willingly bike 15 miles for the fun of it, but that trail does look fun, I know my 7 and 11 year old kiddos would love it 🙂

  4. I have done this, and it is totally as awesome as it sounds! We biked it both ways, and it wasn’t bad. Northern Idaho is beautiful!

  5. So fun! I am from Spokane and have biked the Hiawatha. I’m glad you had so much fun up in my neck of the woods. Lots of great fun things to do in the Pacific Northwest 🙂

  6. This sounds so fun. We have a nice bike/running trail near us that is and old railway trail but it lacks the “rent at one end and shuttle back when you are finished” aspect. I’m very impressed that you did it while pregnant!

  7. We often vacation in that area, so I’ve done the Hiawatha trail a few times and I just love it! The last time, I saw a baby moose!!! So cute!!!

  8. You take the coolest pictures. Seriously. I envy, errr, admire your talent! 🙂 Awesome post Sara, thanks for sharing!

  9. Sweet! I’ve been wanting to find something like this to do but it’s hard when the kids are so small. This looks prefect!

  10. Beautiful! Looks a lot like our backyard in northern bc, canada. Nothing better than family bike rides. Some of my best memories as a kid. Ultra Affordable, fun, exercise! We got bikes as our second anniversary gifts for each other and have definately gotten our money out of them already! We’ve used a baby seat ( we erode front mount is awesome), and then a bike trailer but now we LOVE our ” tagalong” ( ours is actually an Adans trail-a-bike”, we love biking so it’s allowed our daughter ( now 4.5, but we’ve been using it 2 summers already) to ride along on big bike rides! I highly recommend it!

  11. We love vacations in the continental US – and that incorporate nature and/or history. The Hiawatha Trail was not on our radar – but is now! Thanks for sharing! =)

  12. We have business in ID, I should really go and do some of these fun and beautiful things you post. What a great hidden gem of a state!

  13. I love these more “local” destination posts you are putting up. Far-off destinations are a little out of our reach right now, but these are just far enough away to feel like a trip, but close enough to be budget friendly. Plus, they seem to always be hidden gems. I lived in Idaho for 3 years and never heard of any of these!

  14. The trestles might be too much for me, but I love that it’s all flat or downhill. A great long ride (good exercise), and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and whole experience b/c you aren’t focused on getting your bike up a hill!

  15. That sounds so fun! My brothers did this once years ago. I’m glad to know it’s family friendly–I’d love to do this and it’s only a couple hours away from me!

  16. The Hiawatha is lots of fun! I see your boys are sporting the Hiawatha Stripe! Were you able to eat at Panhandler Pies in Sandpoint? I’m from the Treasure Valley originally and now live in Moscow – both place are great, but so different from each other. We sure love all of the beautiful green scenery here in Northern Idaho, but Idaho in general is great! Life is Good 🙂

  17. So pretty. When I was 13 we did a 15-mile bike ride around the everglades. It was awesome and tiring and we saw a ton ton ton of alligators. I hope I can get up there To do that one day!

  18. Looks so pretty! We have a trail like that outside Park City, UT but not near as green and lush. Love to ride the trails.

  19. I honestly did not know that ID was this beautiful – I’m on the East Coast and have seen shamefully little of the rest of our gorgeous country!

  20. That looks like so much fun! As soon as my kids are old enough, we will have to venture to Northern Idaho and try it out. Thanks for sharing!

  21. This looks like fun. We just got home from a road trip and one of our favorite places to camp was Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was amazing. It’s in western North Dakota.

  22. Fun! I’m originally from Spokane. Most of my family has done the Hiawatha, but I haven’t yet! Maybe next time we are up there visiting we will have to plan for it. 😉

  23. Ha ha! I love the wet stripe up your little boy’s back. I can’t believe kids can make it the whole 15 miles! I don’t think I ever did that long of a bike ride when I was little. Fun!

  24. I have been wanting to do this for years. We even went to sandpoint a few years ago. A 7 hour drive for us. Took the bikes too. I had no idea it was that close.

  25. We live in MT and after seeing your pics of the Hiawatha Trail on IG we immediately put this on our bucket list! I thought we’d have to wait til our girls were older but now I’m thinking we can just rent the tag-along bike and do it next summer!

  26. Incidentally, I was just up by that trail less than two weeks ago. My husband had a job interview in Wallace, and it was my first visit to Northern Idaho. I love biking; I wish we had been there long enough to try out the trail. Have you been to Wallace by chance? The Hercules Inn and Red Light Garage are some fun places run by some really nice folks.

  27. We lived in Spokane for a few years and I can’t believe that I have never heard of this trail! If we ever make it back to visit I am definitely making this ride a part of our trip.

  28. What a fun thing to do with your family. I used to travel up to that area with my family on summer vacations growing up many, many years ago. So beautiful!

  29. We rent a lake house in Lake Pend O’Reille every summer! It is by far our most favorite trip, I’m excited to try this bike trail next year!

  30. I wish we would of known about this trail when we lived in Spokane. Northern Idaho is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  31. We love hiking the canyons that are near our home in Utah. The views are breathtaking. This looks like another beautiful place to add to our growing list. Thanks for sharing!

  32. I’m from Idaho and have never heard of that trail. What a neat trip! My family would love that as we all love hiking and biking. Gorgeous photos – thanks for sharing with us!

  33. What a great idea! I grew up in and still live in Oregon and I’ve never heard of this. Definitely going on my family vacation list. = )

  34. I want to do this bike ride so bad! Love Idaho and we live in Walla walla Wa which is only about 3 hours from there. Definitely something we will plan to do when our kids are all a bit older. Thanks for sharing and I am impressed that you did all that bike riding while pregnant.

  35. crazy! I’m a dental hygienist and my patient told me about this trail THIS MORNING before i read this post 🙂 We like to bike in our family and this is definitely on my to do list 🙂 Thanks for the informative post

  36. My husband and I biked the trail on opening weekend. It was a lot of fun and we plan on taking our kids with next time. The staff at Lookout pass are very friendly and helpful. The trestles are high but the path is so wide you can stay in the middle and it shouldn’t bother you. It’s not the same feeling as being on a narrow hiking trail. I highly recommend the ride.

  37. I agree with some of the other comments. I want to see your Idaho bucket list. I have put the City of Rocks on my list thanks to you. Keep the Idaho posts coming!

  38. We have a family reunion every summer at spirit lake, id. We have done the Hiawatha trail a few times. It is so much fun! Such beautiful country up there. We listen to john Denver every time we drive that way. 😉

  39. That’s awesome! What a fun idea for your family. I admire your active outlook and approach to life. And, you look amazeballs! Can’t wait to see what your little guy looks like. 🙂

  40. I would love to see your Idaho Bucket List as well! I’m from SE Idaho and we are always looking for more areas to explore and enjoy!

  41. I love the look of that trail! The hubby would not be a fan of the trestles (petrified of heights, that one), but I don’t think we will be heading to Idaho anytime soon. However, you have inspired me to find something similar here close to home. There have to be places like that that will rent you the gear and drive you back, right? Thanks for sharing. Love this idea.

  42. I found this trail last summer, and we love it so much that we bought season passes this year! IT IS NOT SCARY AT ALL!!! There are so many people saying the trestles look scary, but they are so wide, that it doesn’t matter. I am petrified of heights and I enjoy this ride. The long tunnels are so cool. I actually found a sign once in the Taft Tunnel (the 1.66 mile) and it is the border of MT & ID in the middle of that tunnel… kinda neat! I have taken the most amazing pictures and thoroughly enjoy myself as does my family. Glad to hear you loved this enough to blog about it!!

  43. I’ve ridden it & love it!!! My family & I rode it several years ago before we all had kids but I’ve been wanting to get back there & experience it w/ my kids now-esp since my 3 yr old is wild about anything to do w/ trains 😉 It was awesome & so amazing. So beautiful & incredible! Your post is wonderful & spot on! I totally stayed in the middle over the trestles 😉 we live in MT so I’m hoping to go next year. My aunt & family has done it down & up-whoa! But we all waited for my dad at the bottom & sent him on the shuttle to get the truck-he’s cheap 😉 It’s so fun & perfect for families, so glad you got to enjoy it! Oh I don’t think you can have too many or too big of flashlights for those tunnels!!! 😉

    1. If your son loves trains I hope you stopped by the Northern Pacific RR Depo in Wallace, ID. It’s all about trains. Lots of cool things for him to learn and look at. A museum of sorts and there is even a reading room with books.Sounds like he would love it.

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