Idaho Trails Relaxed
This incredible bike tour takes in a pair of the most spectacular trails in the U.S., featuring easy riding through wetlands, lakes, and meadows, along with some fascinating regional history.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes traces the course of an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way, reaching from the Silver Valley, situated near the Montana-Idaho border, to Plummer, not far from Idaho’s border with Washington. The Route of the Hiawatha originates in Montana and burrows beneath the state line through the memorable 1.7-mile-long Taft Tunnel. We’ll then pass through several more tunnels and ride over numerous trestles, some of them an impressive 200-plus feet high.
With its gentle terrain, short daily distances, and gorgeous scenery, this trip is a great choice whether you’re a beginner seeking an introduction to supported bicycle touring or a cycling veteran craving a mellow, low traffic adventure.
"A fantastic and challenging tour. Our leader was the best I could imagine."
Day 1. Plummer, Idaho, 0 miles
You’ll meet your fellow riders, your tour leader and staff, and your caterer at today’s orientation meeting at the western terminus of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. Following introductions and a lip-smacking dinner, you’ll crawl into your tent and dream of the upcoming five days of carefree cycling.
Day 2. Plummer to Cataldo, 36 miles
After breakfast we’ll climb aboard our touring bikes and begin coasting along Coeur d’Alene Lake over the photogenic, 3,100-foot Chatcolet Bridge, with its cool stair-step design that’s a blast to ride over. Built in 1921 as a railroad bridge, it’s expressly for cyclists and hikers today. We’ll continue along the trail at a slightly downhill grade past marshes and wetlands, squeezing between Swan Lake and Cave Lake along the Coeur d’Alene River. You’ll want to be sure to keep an eye out for the incredible variety of birds, including osprey, that summer in the area. Our camp is just outside Cataldo.
Day 3. Cataldo to Wallace, 31 miles
Today we’ll continue up the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to the Silver Valley, alongside the river and through pine forests to historic Wallace — famous as the “Silver Capital of the World.” Along the way, we’ll take a side trip to the Old Mission State Park and visit the oldest building still standing in Idaho. The Sacred Heart Mission was built between 1850 and 1853 by Catholic missionaries and members of the Coeur d’Alene tribe — incredibly, without the use of a single nail. In the afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of Wallace. You might choose to hike the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, take a Sierra Silver mine tour, or enjoy the local Sixth Street Melodrama.
Day 4. Route of the Hiawatha, 15 miles
Our day will begin with an optional shuttle ride to the East Portal trailhead of the Route of the Hiawatha. Don’t forget to pack your headlamp, because you’ll ride through 10 extremely dark tunnels on this scenic rail trail, including the 1.7-mile-long Taft Tunnel. Your group will also cross seven lofty trestles offering magnificent views of the surrounding forested mountains. You’ll gradually cover 15 miles of the gravel-surfaced trail through the heart of the rugged Bitterroot Mountains to the Pearson Trailhead before catching the shuttle back to Wallace. We’ll then spend another night in the Silver Valley.
Day 5. Wallace to Harrison, 49 miles
We’ll zip back along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to the delightful community of Harrison and our campsite for the evening. You’ll enjoy this quaint, quiet town and all it has to offer: ice cream, the Crane House Museum, and swimming in Lake Coeur d’Alene. We’ll dine as a group for the final time tonight and, after communing around the campfire, fall asleep beneath the star-filled Idaho sky.
Day 6. Harrison to Plummer, 15 miles
After re-crossing the Chatcolet Bridge, we’ll climb to our ending point, keeping a sharp eye out for eagles, osprey, moose, and elk, which are common in the area. We’ll say our goodbyes in Plummer, thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated after our week of mellow cycling and great sightseeing in the gorgeous and serene panhandle of Idaho.
Know before you go
Information for Route of the Hiawatha::
We recommend those who may ride with tires less than 35mm in width or a tandem consider renting a bike for the day on the Route of the Hiawatha.
Information for eBike riders:
Because every rider, eBike, road condition, and elevation profile is different, it is ultimately up to the participant to judge best whether their battery will last through each tour day. We recommend using pedal assist in its lowest setting or off when not needed to maximize battery range. Bringing a second battery is also recommended, and it can be carried by staff and available at a designated stop during the day.