Bitterroot Bonanza - Idaho
Bitterroot Bonanza is featured as one of National Geographic Adventure's "25 Best New Trips"!
For the first time ever, North Idaho’s world class Rails-to-Trails system is linked into a superb itinerary that combines a bike tour with rafting and kayaking. This is an ideal family trip and since this is our own backyard, you can be sure we’ll have plenty of surprises and special treats throughout your journey. Along the way, you'll dine out and stay at local hotels. The trip starts in Spokane, Washington with a bike ride on the Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail along the Spokane River. We reach the resort town of Coeur d'Alene, on Lake Coeur d'Alene with time to play in the lake. The next day we enjoy a half-day kayak trip and then bicycle tour of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, one of the jewels of the National Rails-to-Trails system.
We trade our pedals for paddles and raft the scenic and tumbling Clark Fork - or St. Joe, depending on the time of year you join us - one of the region's most popular whitewater river trips suitable for rafters of all ages! Then a spectacular day on the historical Hiawatha Trail, where you will bike through tunnels and across dramatic trestles spanning canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains on the Idaho/Montana border. The trail is not far from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, one of the largest protected areas in the United States. At the end we return you to Spokane where your adventure began.
This Bitterroot Bonanza bike adventure has plenty to offer in 5 days full of outdoors, history and activities. Click on the itinerary tab for more details of this Bitterroot Mountain Multisport adventure!
Images & Videos
Arrive in Spokane, Washington and overnight. (Hotel not included)
Today’s bike ride is on the Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail that goes from the west of Spokane all the way to eight miles east of Coeur d'Alene. From our hotel in Spokane, we make a short transfer to the start of the trail at Riverside State Park and start our ride through a forest of pines and firs. We stop at various historic and scenic points including the dramatic Bowl & Pitcher rapid where ancient lava flows formed a spectacular setting of huge boulders of basalt. We ride through downtown Spokane past the Spokane River falls, continuing east on a trail that is mostly level. Along the river we pass under willows and may stop for a quick dip as we ride to the Idaho/Washington border. Throughout the day you’ll learn about the area’s natural and cultural history from your ROW Adventures guide. We load our van at the border for a short transfer into the lakeside town of Coeur d’Alene, where ROW Adventures is headquartered. Anyone so inclined may ride along Lake Coeur d’Alene another eight miles to the end of the trail east of town, then return.
Biking: (37-mile bike ride with optional additional 16 miles).
Trading pedals for paddles we jump into touring kayaks for a three-hour paddle on the blue waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. You paddle through an active osprey breeding area where we watch these birds fish and tend their nests. We may also see bald eagles, herons, comorants and other waterfowl. Your guides’ knowledge will help deepen your appreciation of the wildlife as well as the natural history of the lake. Then we transfer south about 30 minutes to the western starting point of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a 70-mile trail through the heart of North Idaho. We ride from the trailhead downhill through forests and meadows on the old Union Pacific Railroad line. Our day ends with a final ride across the lake on a lovely historic bridge, then along the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene to the hamlet of Harrison.
Kayaking & Biking: (7-mile kayak; 8 to 16-mile bike ride.)
We ride about 35 miles today at a leisurely pace through marshes and along the Coeur d’Alene Chain lakes and river while learning about the mining legacy of the area. A special visit to the historic Cataldo Mission, Idaho’s oldest building, is a highlight. Built by two Jesuit priests and some 300 members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, this is an astounding building. We stop for a snack or meal at the historic Enaville Snake Pit, a colorful eating and drinking establishment, then transfer or ride to our evening’s accommodation.
Biking: (35-mile bike ride with optional 10-20 miles)
This morning we load up for an 1 ½ hour drive across Lookout Pass to go rafting on the Clark Fork River - or St. Joe River, depending on the time of year you join us - in Montana, an intermediate whitewater trip with paddle in hand.. The trip is suitable for anyone age five and up (the St. Joe is appropriate for guests 14 and older). The roughly 14-mile paddle travels through a dramatic canyon of fine western scenery and deep gorges. We enjoy a bountiful riverside smorgasbord lunch on a sandy beach perfect for swimming.
Kayaking: (14-mile paddle)
A short drive back to the Idaho/Montana border gets us to the historic and spectacular Hiawatha Trail. We start at the East Portal trailhead and immediately enter the two-mile long Taft Tunnel. Before the morning is over we go through another six tunnels and cross a number of breath-taking trestles that span deep and forested canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains. This is one of the most spectacular, if not the most spectacular, rails-to-trails trail in the United States. It is well maintained and the gravel route and gentle grade make it easy for the whole family to ride together. Being on a railroad grade, this portion of the trail follows a very easy 1.7% downhill grade from 4160 ft. at the West Portal to 3175 ft. at Pearson, for a total drop of a little less than 1000 ft. in a distance of 15 miles. After a trailside lunch, we finish our ride, and then load up for a two hour drive back to Spokane where we began our adventure five days earlier.
Biking: (15-mile bike ride).
History of the Hiawatha Trail -
The history of the railroad is fascinating as is the geologic story of the Bitterroot Mountains. It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46 mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for 8771 ft. (1.66 miles) under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. You'll learn much more about the railroad and people who civilized the area during your ride.
Dates & Rates
Departures: July 10, 24; August 7, 21, 28; by request for groups of six or more.
Youth Price: $1,750
Adult Price: $1,895
FAQ & More
Not at all! Our itinerary is accommodating to a wide range of biking abilities. The trails we ride are relatively flat and all except the Hiawatha are paved. Plus, you set the pace!
From July forward when your rafting leg is on the Clark Fork, it's an excellent family trip. Give us a call if you'd like to get more details; we'd be happy to chat with you!
Much of this trip is along rivers and lakes. Thus it's common to see osprey, great blue herons, bald eagles, ducks and other birds. With some luck we may even see deer and beaver. When we ride along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, from the town of Harrison north, there's the chance to see moose too! On the Lake Coeur d'Alene kayaking tour we paddle beneath the nests of osprey, and and in June and July you might see their chicks in the nest.
Even if you've never been in a kayak, you'll love this kayaking tour of Lake Coeur d'Alene. We actually paddle about two hours and go at an easy pace.
The Clark Fork whitewater rafting trip takes place through the Alberton Gorge, which offers fun, intermediate whitewater ranging from class II-III. For most of the season, we can take children as young as five on this trip. No previous rafting experience is necessary. The river flows through a beautiful canyon with no roads.