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Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails

Connecting the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes to the Route of the Hiawatha

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Directions from the end of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Mullan, Idaho, to the beginning of the Route of the Hiawatha at the East Portal of the Taft Tunnel in Montana
 
topographic map showing this area
 
    This impressive mountain pass traverse between Mullan, ID, and Taft, MT may be seen from the air...
IF you have the FREE Google Earth program installed.

This route starts at the east end of the Trail of Coeur d'Alenes parking lot in Mullan (0.0 mile). Looking east, you will see a paved trail between the large brick building on your left and the "Yuppie Trails" store on your right. Follow this through town as you first approach and then join Earle Street, which appears on your left. Ride past the ball park (0.5 mile), join the I-90 Business Loop road present on your right, and pass by the freeway interchange, following the sign to "Shoshone Park." Proceed past the Lucky Friday Mine and over a small stream to an important fork in the road (1.5).

Take the lower road to the left. It is Larson Road and will take you through the "historic village" of Larson (2.7), which today consists of four houses and a barn. Stay right past first fork and arrive at a junction marked "Shoshone Park" (3.2). Make the left turn and ride past this day-use park (3.4) and arrive at the Hale Fish Hatchery (3.8). Did you remember to bring dimes for the fish food dispensers? You will be sorry if you forgot! For future reference: the road you did not take at the first fork is called Willow Creek Road, and the road that continues past the entrance to Shoshone Park is called Mullan Pass Road.

At the Fish Hatchery, turn off the pavement onto Forest Road 133, which is packed dirt and gravel. DO NOT take FR 6531 to the Little North Fork! Stay on the old railroad grade to the right. Take care, this area (3.9) is full of moose, and they will insist on their right of way! At another junction with Mullan Pass Road, go straight across the intersection, to the west, onto FR 3026 (4.2). {This is where our $21K Grant for trail improvement begins.} You will pass under the interstate (5.3), pause at a post card view of Lone Lake Basin (6.7), and proceed to a junction with Willow Creek Road (7.2).

Note: If you take the wrong road at the important fork in the road mentioned at the end of the first paragraph, you will also end up here... after climbing a extremely steep and rutted jeep trail. Perhaps it is only two miles long, but I'm nervous in a jeep on this "road." I guess you could always walk your bike... but really, take the longer railroad grade and feed the fish.

click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey Come back to this spot someday, and BACKPACK into primitive camps at either Stevens Lake or Lone Lake. These two trails are very steep 2 mile climbs into gorgeous cirque lakes blessed with fish and solitude. A walking stick will be more useful than a mountain bike on these trails. The trail to Stevens Lake starts at the junction in question, while the Lone Lake trailhead can be seen to the right (west) along the road about 100 yards distant.

Back on your bike at the junction of Forest Road 3026 and Willow Creek Road (7.2), make the hard left switchback uphill to stay on the railroad grade (FR 3026). The road becomes rougher. Don't take the uphill road on the right (7.4). The remains of a train trestle may be glimpsed on the left (7.6), and a great picnic spot overlooking the Silver Valley presents itself shortly (7.8). Further up the old railway grade, are the remains of another trestle bridge that made this 3% climb possible (9.4). You will pass another scenic vista and possible picnic place (10.6) on your way to the Lookout Pass Ski Area, where you will find rest rooms, a bar, a cafe, and a bike rental and repair shop from late May to early October (11.7).

Continue east on dirt road out of Lookout Pass parking lot. Marvel at the beautiful view of Copper Lake Basin (12.4), and then after rounding a corner, the larger St. Regis Lake Basin further to the southwest. The trail to lower St. Regis Lake begins at the hairpin turn (12.9) with several dispersed campsites nearby. The steep trail into Copper Lake begins further down the road (13.9), again with dispersed campsites nearby. Suddenly the trail enters a very dark and bumpy train tunnel (15.7). This is not a prepared hardpack tunnel floor as you will find on the Route of the Hiawatha; it is a wet and rutted jeep trail, so be prepared to stop and walk through the tenth-mile-long tunnel. A hair pin turn heads you back west with the interstate visible far below you to the right. Soon, however, you will find yourself going under the freeway (16.8), and heading east again.

After following the freeway downhill for a while, you will pass within yards of a new Highway Rest Area with clean bathrooms (19.7). You will ride back under the interstate (20.1) and arrive at the junction (20.3) of Nor Pac Road #4208 (which we have been following since Lookout Pass) and Hanker Creek Road #445, merging from the right. Soon old Highway 10 emerges out of the gravel and leads the rider to the I-90, Exit 5 (Montana) interchange area (20.6). Continue around the huge "circus tented" sandpile to the view the sign "Route of the Hiawatha" at the beginning of Rainey Creek Road #506 (20.9). Follow this road approximately 2 miles uphill to the East Portal of the Taft Tunnel. Have your $9 day-use fee (up $1 from 2006 season) ready to hand to the concessionaire's marshals when you see them at the West Portal, 1.7 miles of darkness away.

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Alternate Route between Lookout Pass and Mullan

click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey If you wish to return to Mullan from Lookout Pass by another route, take the State Line Trail #7 from the Pass to it's intersection with Mullan Pass Road, mentioned previously. To get to the trailhead, leave the Lookout Pass Ski Area parking lot and cross the Interstate overpass (elevation 4725') to gain access to Beacon Mountain Road, which is gated off to motorized vehicles. The trailhead is immediately past the gate on the left. The trail is the remnant of an old road used when carving the interstate out of the hillside many years ago. click to enlarge this photo by Ed Renkey At the top of the incline, you have a dramatic view of the interstate below with the Silver Valley laid out beyond. You also have a very rocky bike "trail" that requires either great skill or walking. However, once you round the mountain, you enter a deep cedar forest with a high canopy. The rolling hiking trail was recently maintained and is free of obstacles. Continue for a total of 2.8 miles until you reach Mullan Pass (elevation 5168') and the junction with Mullan Pass Road. Drop 8.5 miles down to Mullan on this dirt road, which you crossed on the way up to Lookout Pass after leaving the Fish Hatchery.

 
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Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
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Route of the Hiawatha
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Old Milwaukee Road
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last update on Wednesday, 09-Feb-2011 12:16:44 PST
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