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Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails

The Milwaukee Road

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The Old Milwaukee Road

With the Northern Pacific Railbed Restoration Project completed, except for maintenance, we have turned our attention to enhancing the Old Milwaukee Road railbed/road along the Saint Joe River between Avery and Saint Maries. This multi-use yet semi-abandoned dirt road is the key to establishing a spectacular 185 mile bicycle loop route. One day, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, the Northern Pacific railbed, the Route of the Hiawatha, and the Old Milwaukee Road will form a loop known the world over for its variety, rigor and beauty.

This photo taken from the Milwaukee Road courtesy of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy We are encouraged in this effort by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization working with communities to preserve unused rail corridors by transforming them into trails, enhancing the health of America's environment, economy, neighborhoods and people. The photo shows folks from the national office checking out a section of the Milwaukee Road as it travels along the Saint Joe River.

Here we present several ways to look at an Old Milwaukee Road bicycle adventure.

  • Pearson to Marble Creek.
    Our Other Trails page documents this as Ride #14. This all-downhill journey starts at the Route of the Hiawatha Pearson Trailhead, which can be reached via the Moon Pass Road (NFD 456) from either Wallace or Avery. This could be considered a FREE continuation of a ride down the Route of the Hiawatha. The trail follows what we have dubbed and signed as the Old Milwaukee Scenic/Alternate Route. It goes 10.8 miles, past a newly renovated campground on the North Fork of the Saint Joe River, to Avery on ATV-wide trail, and then continues another 12.8 miles along the wide Saint Joe River to the Interpretive Center at Marble Creek.  
  • Marble Creek to Saint Maries.
    Our Other Trails page documents this as Ride #15. The mostly dirt country road follows the Saint Joe River for 33.8 miles from the Marble Creek Interpretive Center into the town of St. Maries.
    • Marble Creek to Saint Maries annotated topo map with milepost comments:
      2,183 KB, two page Microsoft Word document
    • As shown below: in June, 2005, some of us made an initial exploratory ride along the Saint Joe River between Marble Creek and Saint Maries, on what was the Old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way.

  • Pearson to Saint Maries.
    This treatment considers both sections together as half of what we are calling "The 300K Bitterroot Loop."
    • In August, 2006, a group of adventurous ladies from Denver rode the Bitterroot Loop in six days and wrote up their 185 mile itinerary for us (12 KB pdf file).
    • In September, 2010, two riders produced this photo essay:
      The Grand Rail Trail of North Idaho: 170 miles in three days using the "Wallace cheater option" (1.8 MB pdf file).
    •     In June, 2013, Ed Renkey documented a 162 mile itinerary by GPS that begins and ends in St. Maries (35 KB pdf file). His two tours are designed for those who wish to tent camp and for those who wish to stay in motels overnight. A link to the itinerary at the "ride with GPS" website is provided along with contact numbers for many camping and motel alternatives.
    • Towns and elevation changes along the 185 mile loop (8 KB pdf file).
    • Useful and emergency contact information for the 185 mile loop (8 KB pdf file).

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If you have Google Earth installed on your computer, you will find the following kml tours informative and entertaining.

    Google Earth is a broadband, 3D application that not all computers can run.
  • Desktop computers older than 4 years old may not be able to run it.
  • Notebook computers older than 2 years old may not be able to run it.
However, IF you have the capability, you WILL want to download the FREE software available at earth.google.com/download-earth.html and check out this world class adventure from the air!

        [This is a work in progress. Please keep checking back for updated files.]
  • Plummer to Harrison (Lake Coeur d'Alene segment; 15.3 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Harrison to Enaville (Chain Lakes segment; 31.8 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Enaville to Mullan (Silver Valley segment; 24.3 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Mullan to Taft, Montana (Mountain Pass segment; 20.9 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Taft to Pearson (Route of the Hiawatha segment; 17.0 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Pearson to Avery (North Fork of Saint Joe River segment; AKA Scenic Alternate Milwaukee Road; 9.0 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008
  • Avery to Plummer (Saint Joe River segment; AKA Milwaukee Road railbed; 65.4 miles)
        updated August 08, 2008

The Trail Mapping Committee carried out a Fun Fact-Finding Ride beside the St. Joe River on Sunday, June 5, 2005. Click on these photos by Ed Renkey to open 800 by 600 pixel versions in separate windows.

click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey NOTES: The group convened at the Harvest Foods parking lot in St. Maries about 9:00 AM. The riders and bicycles were shuttled to the Marble Creek Interpretive Center about 30 miles up the St Joe River from St. Maries, where the ride started. We crossed the road, then crossed the river to Potlatch Road. This is the old roadbed of the Milwaukee Railroad. We followed old roadbed back to Harvest Foods in St. Maries.
Ride Time: Started at 10:22 AM; finished at 3:00 PM
Distance: 32 miles

click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey The riders were: Del Sanborn, Jon Ruggles, Steve Prokotiw, Ed Renkey, Danni and Erin Brudeseth [as shown]. John Kolbe shuttled Jon, Del, Ed, and Steve, along with three bicycles. Erin's husband shuttled his family and the rest of the bicycles. John Kolbe then returned to the Pedal Pusher's Shop. Erin's husband followed behind the group. He picked up Erin and Danni about 15 miles into the ride. It started to rain pretty hard about that time. The rest of us had lunch where the railroad grade passes under the highway. After lunch we resumed the ride in the rain. Most of the roadbed was packed gravel, but some of it was loose gravel. As we approached St Maries, the road got very muddy. When we arrived back at the vehicles, we were all wet and covered with mud from top to bottom. The bikes were a mess. We had fun.

click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Steve and Del start out on Potlatch Road
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
St. Joe River Road to Avery on other side of river
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Del and John on Potlach Road at Big Creek
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click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Old railroad tunnel
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enlarge top photo
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Erin and Danni on Potlach Road near Calder
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click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
The town of Calder
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click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
leaving Calder on the old railbed, not maintained by the county
use mouseover to catch the others
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Old railroad bridge across Bear Creek
use mouseover to see why everyone is walking their bikes
enlarge top photo
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
riding along the unmaintained road
use mouseover to travel half a mile
enlarge top photo
click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey
Old railroad bridge across St. Joe River
use mouseover to cross in the rain
enlarge top photo

 
 
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©2003-2013, Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails
Webworks by Greg Marsh
http://friendsofcdatrails.org/Milwaukee/index.html
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