Best Bites Travel: The Hiawatha Trail

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 $$$!




woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. That looks beautiful! I think my family would love that. We live in Idaho too, so this looks doable 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. Looks like a lot of fun! If I ever find myself in Northern Idaho I’ll have to give it a try! 🙂

  5. 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! =)

  6. 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!

  7. This looks fun, my kind of bike ride too! I sent this to a friend that just moved to the Boise area, maybe she can check it out.

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any place as beautiful as that. Makes me wish I lived closer. I bet my kids would love a bike ride like that too!

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

  11. 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!!!

  12. 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!

  13. 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 🙂

  14. 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!

  15. That looks so beautiful! I would love to go to northern idaho one day. Its on my bucket list!

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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!

  18. This looked totally fun until the bridge picture! I think I would have a heart attack 🙂

    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.

  19. 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!

  20. This sounds amazing! Definitely going to have to plan a vacation headed that way.