This incredible bike tour takes in a pair of the most spectacular trails in the U.S., 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 near the Montana-Idaho border to Plummer, Idaho, near the 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 predominantly gentle terrain, short daily distances, and gorgeous scenery, this trip is a great choice whether you’re a bike travel beginner or a cycling veteran craving a mellow, traffic-free adventure.
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Day 1. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 0 miles
Your tour begins in the beautiful northern Idaho tourist town of Coeur d’Alene surrounded by crystal-clear glacial lakes. Arrive early to check out the many local activities from boat rentals to beautiful lake vistas during sunrises or sunsets. You’ll meet your fellow riders and your tour leader for an orientation meeting after check-in and a short walk to a local restaurant for dinner to prep yourself for six awesome days of riding.
Day 2. Coeur d’Alene to Harrison, 35 miles
After breakfast, we’ll climb aboard our bikes and begin our ride out of Coeur d’Alene along the East Yellowstone Trail. Spinning our way along the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene on rural roads, we’ll arrive at the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes in Harrison, Idaho. 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.
Day 3. Harrison to Wallace, 49 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 — known 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, 29 miles
Our day will begin with an optional shuttle ride to the East Portal trailhead of the Route of the Hiawatha in Montana. 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 (bring a jacket, it can be cold in there!). 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 Mullan, Idaho, to complete the daily mileage to Wallace. We’ll then spend another night in the Silver Valley.
Day 5. Wallace to Harrison, 50 miles
We’ll zip back along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to a delightful overnight stay in Harrison, reliving some of the adventure of the previous few days but perhaps spotting that ever-elusive moose, elk, eagle, or osprey that call the area home.
Day 6. Harrison to Worley, 26 miles
After breakfast, we’ll continue along the trail past marshes and wetlands, squeezing between Swan Lake and Cave Lake along the Coeur d’Alene River. We’ll be coasting along Lake Coeur d’Alene over the photogenic, 3,100-foot Chatcolet Bridge, with its unique “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 leave the trail in Plummer and make our way along secondary roads to our overnight in Worley.
Day 7. Worley to Coeur d’Alene, 29 miles
On our last day together, we will make our way north back toward Coeur d’Alene along the western edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene. We’ll say our goodbyes at the trailhead, 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 will need to be carried by the participant.
Participants are allowed to ride eBikes on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes with a permit secured by each individual. Participants are also allowed to ride eBikes on the Route of the Hiawatha without a permit. Bike rentals are available for the Route of the Hiawatha, or for the entire tour.