Mountain Biking
in northern Idaho's beautiful Silver Valley

Mountain biking is fast gaining popularity in the Silver Valley, joining hiking, backpacking, fishing, river rafting, canoeing, kayaking, four-wheeling and golf as ways to enjoy the beautiful summer season. This page presents various trails for your enjoyment.

click to enlarge this photo from Sunset

This picture was taken from page 88 of the September 1999 issue of Sunset Magazine, and has brought people from all over the world to the Silver Valley to experience The Route of The Hiawatha. [Updated information not in the original article is indicated in brackets.]

"Up in the mountains of northern Idaho - about 55 miles southeast of the resort area of Coeur d'Alene - what was once one of America's most scenic sections of passenger rail travel is now open to mountain biking. [Beginning in Montana at the East Portal of the 1.8 mile long Taft Tunnel, about seven miles away from Lookout Pass on Interstate 90,] the Route of the Hiawatha ambles [15 miles] down the former Milwaukee Railroad line, dropping 1000 vertical feet to the Pearson Trailhead [on the North Fork of the St. Joe River], northwest of Avery, Idaho.

At the time it was built, between 1907 and 1909, this stretch of railroad in the Bitterroot Mountains was the world's most expensive railway construction project. Today the gentle 1.7% grade makes for a highly scenic, moderately easy bike jaunt. Picturesque trestles, as high as 200 feet, tower above the timber and creeks below. The Hiawatha's train tunnels are so long that they require a flashlight [and a helmet naturally].

The railway history is engaging, as well. The Loop Creek drainage was once home to 1,000 workers. Today the only sign of these raucous railroad towns is a sagging wall at Adair, just east of Tunnel 25. Still, squint at an upcoming train tunnel and you just might envision a locomotive chugging your way."

Tunnel #24 and Small Creek Trestle
      -- click to enlarge
Tunnel #24 and Small Creek Trestle (#216)
Turkey Creek Trestle with Kelly Creek
      Trestle in the background -- click to enlarge
Turkey Creek Trestle (#224) with Kelly Creek Trestle (#220) in the background
The Route of The Hiawatha

The completed Rails-to-Trails Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes between Mullan and Plummer is be more than 72 miles long.
An organization called the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails has been formed to promote, educate, encourage and assist in the development and maintenance of the Trail and the many mountain bike trails connecting to it.
          NEWS FLASH -- April 13, 2004          
The Chatcolet Bridge is now open to the public!
Shoshone News Press
March 31, 2004
Time to Enjoy the Trail

With the spring-like weather, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is beginning to see a lot of use. The entire trail is now free of snow and open for walking and riding. Park crews have recently been busy sweeping the rocks and gravel off the trail. The restrooms are all open and ready for use.

The historic Chatcolet Bridge, which is nearing completion, should be open to the public by the middle of April. When this is completed, one can ride from Mullan to Plummer, over 72 miles of smooth paved trail.

This is a non-motorized trail; no equipment or vehicles with motors are allowed on it. Also no horses are allowed. We also ask users to stay on the trail and respect private property.

There is no fee charged to use this trail. For more information, questions or concerns, please contact the park office at (208) 682-3814.

Enjoy the trail and have fun.

Bill Scudder
Old Mission State Park Manager
Progress Report: March 7, 2003, Shoshone News-Press
SILVER VALLEY -- While the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is officially open from Wallace to Harrison [56 miles], trail manager Bill Scudder said there are still a few details to be worked out before the [6 mile] stretch from Wallace to Mullan can be officially open. ... "They are looking at an area around the Compressor District where the trail runs pretty close to the freeway." Scudder said guardrail and fencing will be installed to address the problem in the next few weeks. Once that is done, Union Pacific is expected to turn that section of the trail over to the state a short time later.

The last section of the trail still needing considerable work is in the Lake Chatcolet area. Scudder said the contract for the work is in place and construction of the trail over the big lake bridge will begin in the next few weeks and should be completed by the end of summer. While there had been plans to hold a grand opening ceremony this spring, ...the plans are being pushed back to late in the summer.

Progress Report: November 23, 2002, Shoshone News-Press
SILVER VALLEY -- The middle [56 mile] section of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bike trail from Wallace to Harrison has finally been given the green light to officially open.

click to see photo album

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has officially taken charge of the supervising that portion of the trail under an interim agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad, said Bill Scudder, trail manager for the IDPR.

Scudder said with the official start of the trail use, the enforcement of rules and regulations regarding the trail now go into high gear with trail rangers patrolling more frequently.

... A grand opening celebration for the trail is in the works and will probably be held some time in May, Scudder said.

Progress Report: March 16, 2002, Shoshone News-Press
SILVER VALLEY -- While it remains buried under a couple of feet of snow, once the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes emerges from its cold, white blanket, riders can anticipate using it some time this summer.

click to see photo album

Despite the snow, work has already resumed on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, the 72 mile long trail from Mullan to [Plummer], according to Bill Scudder of the Old Mission State Park.

The numerous bridges the trail crosses are the focus of work that is currently under way, Scudder said, as crews from Wesslen Construction of Spokane have nearly finished removing the wooden railroad ties from spans.

... Once the bridge supports have been cleaned, Scudder said concrete slabs will be put in place for the pathway and then the steel safety railings can be bolted directly to the slabs.

Scudder added that the steel trestles will be cleaned and repaired, the old paint will be scraped off and a fresh covering will be added.

... "Once it is open, it will be a tremendous asset," Scudder said. "You're going to have people from Wallace meeting people from Pinehurst and Kellogg along the way; I think it will help tie this valley together."

While construction is on schedule, no official opening date has been set, Scudder said. Whether the opening will be held up until the entire trail is completed, or if it will be opened in stages, is still up in the air at this time.

He added that it is possible one section could open early in the summer as the Union Pacific Railroad has indicated it would like to turn the trail over to the state and the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe in sections.

Progress Report: September 29, 2000, Shoshone News-Press
As of this week, about 20 miles of track have been pulled and clean fill has been packed back into the rail bed [between Mullan and Smelterville]... Work on the 71.5-mile trail between Plummer and Mullan began in late July following approval of the project by government agencies.

Ranger Bill Scudder, manager of the Old Mission State Park at Cataldo, said earlier that officials hope to complete the 56-mile section between Mullan and [Harrison] by this winter. That section will be paved because of the potential for flooding in that area. However, the [mine waste] contamination in the remaining [section] between Harrison and Plummer will be removed and the trail packed with a thick coat of gravel. Eventually that section of the trail could also be paved, Scudder said.

The cost of the rails-to-trails project for clean up and constructions, expected to total about $20 million, will be paid for by Union Pacific. Another fund will cover the trail's operation and maintenance.

Silver Mountain offers gondola and lift transport of you and your bike to the top of the ski area, where you have a huge choice of trails to follow across and down the mountains. If you have visited Silver Mountain in the winter to play in the champagne powder or dash down the perfect corduroy, you'll also love the Kellogg resort in the summer. And it is only going to get better!
Shoshone News Press
June 4, 2004
          Ski hill bike trails set to open

KELLOGG -- ... Opening day for the summer season at Silver Mountain will be June 19. One of many guests sure to be on the mountain that day is International Mountain Biking Association designer Joey Klein. He will be in town to survey Silver Mountain and to give [them] some ideas [for] trail expansion.

"These guys are the leaders in [mountain bike trail] building," said Silver Mountain's Scott Evans. "Klein is the premier man in building trails."

Klein will be in the area for two weeks gathering ideas about how to turn the resort in to the best [mountain bike ski hill] in the country.

"His standards are among the best in the country," said Evans. "To move where we want, he is the best for his line of work."

Silver Mountain will employ a full-time crew ... this summer on the bike trails. [They] will patrol the various trails to make sure there are no problems and [to] maintain the trails during the summer. ...

"This should be a huge asset to the Silver Valley," said Evans of the improved and expanded trail system at Silver Mountain. "It fills a niche for the downhill riders that differs from the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and the Route of the Hiawatha. It should bring people from around the world." ...

Silver mountain will operate the gondola and chairs one and two for biking this summer: Wednesday through Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM, with Saturday and Sunday hours from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Why not plan your mountain bike adventure around the
2004 Silver Mountain Concert Series ?
For more information about mountain biking at Silver Mountain, use the inquiry form.

In this section, local pedal pumpin' fanatics Del, Dave, and Jim will tell and show you their favorite trails right out of Wallace . These are rigorous rides! And, if he lives long enough, we may also feature "Rick's radical rides or death rides for those with strong hearts and weak minds."

We will simply accumulate photos here for a while and add the text as it becomes available. Click on the photos to enlarge them. It is anticipated that each Ride will evolve into a separate page.

Nine Mile Road to Woodland Park in Burke Canyon
Nine Mile, 50% zoom, click to
Trails start at bend in Nine Mile Canyon Road
Looking down into Burke Canyon
   from Granite Ridge: Ride 3, picture 5
Looking down into Burke Canyon from Granite Ridge
Nine Mile Road to Gem in Burke Canyon
Ride 4, picture 4
Looking down into Nine Mile Canyon toward Wallace
Ride 4, picture 5
Jim and Del ready to descend

Click to see 2000
   population by city

The Silver Valley is in Shoshone County (population 13,771) between Fourth of July Pass and Lookout Pass. It contains Interstate 90, the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, and several small towns.

The 1990 and 2000 populations of these towns can be known by clicking on the topo map.

About 80% of the county is public land, making the population density 5 people per square mile, and the recreation possibilities enormous.

Thank you for your time and interest. Leave a bookmark and return anytime.
Please tell me what you would like to see on this page and on other pages of this Silver Valley website.
Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
Marsh Scientific Services Marsh Scientific Services
Greg Marsh skiing deep powder at Lookout Pass
To see more of where I'm skiing DEEP spring powder, click on my smile.
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  • Historic Wallace Idaho is known as the Silver Capital of the World because the area around it has produced 1.2 billion ounces of Silver in 130 years. Recently an act of political satire made it known as the Center of the Universe as well. That is certainly true when you consider the all-season mountain recreation opportunities in all directions..
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2016/2017 Ski Season Snowfall Log and Commentary for both Ski Areas
Maximum snow depth recorded at Lookout Pass during each previous season is shown.
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Greg Marsh, Ph.D., is Marsh Scientific Services ©1998-2017, Marsh Scientific Services, Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
last update on Saturday, 05-Jun-2004 17:02:02 PDT
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