Miles of Adventure

Exploring the Historic Route of the Hiawatha – Scenic Bike Trail

Tucked away in the rugged beauty of the Bitterroot Mountains on the Montana-Idaho border lies the Rails-to-Trails “Crown Jewel” — the Route of the Hiawatha. This iconic biking and hiking trail traces the path of the historic Milwaukee Railroad line and offers cyclists, hikers and nature lovers from around the globe breathtaking panoramas, a glimpse into the region’s riveting past, and one of the most distinct rails-to-trails experiences in the country. 

Spanning 15 miles, this mostly downhill route provides a thrilling yet accessible adventure suitable for just about anyone. Beginning at the East Portal Trailhead, the Hiawatha travels through dense forests and alpine meadows, across expansive canyons and clear mountain streams, past cascading waterfalls and beneath towering peaks. Along the way are 10 historic tunnels — including the iconic St. Paul Pass Taft Tunnel, stretching over 1.6 miles in length — and seven sky-high trestle-bridges with panoramic wilderness views. Captivating scenery unfolds with every twist and turn. Wildlife can be spotted along the route, especially in the early hours when there are fewer people on the trail. Keep an eye out for golden-mantled squirrels, a variety of birds, and the occasional deer, elk, moose, or bear. And at the end of the trail there’s a shuttle offering rides back up to the Roland Trailhead where you can bike back through the Taft Tunnel to your vehicle. 

This scenic treasure is also steeped in history. Forty-nine interpretive signs along the way tell the story of the railway’s construction, the lives of the workers who labored to build it, the Great Fire of 1910, and more. Recreationists can explore these testaments to the old railway, providing a fascinating look into the area’s industrial heritage.

For those seeking an unforgettable outdoor adventure, the Route of the Hiawatha – Scenic Bike Trail delivers an experience like no other. So, hop on your bike or lace up your hiking boots (rental bikes available on-site) and set out to discover the legendary Route of the Hiawatha, one of the few Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall-of-Fame Trails in the nation. The trail is open for the 2024 season through September 15. Plan your trip at

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