10 things to know about the Hiawatha trail

 #1. It’s a real thing

Opened in 1998, the Hiawatha trail is a 15-mile-long bike trail that operates out of Lookout Pass Ski Area right off of I-90 at exit 0. All amenities such as trail passes can be found at the ski area that opens at 8 a.m.  The actual main trail for the Hiawatha is actually located 7-miles east of the ski area at exit 5 in Montana. The trail is open roughly from the end of May and closes at the end of September every year.

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#2. You don’t need to own a bike to ride the Hiawatha Trail

Okay, that’s a lie, well only slightly. You do need a bike to ride the Hiawatha. However, you do not need to own one personally because you can rent one from the Lookout Pass ski area. Not only can you rent from two choices of mountain bikes for both children and adults, but you can also rent helmets, bike lights and bike trailers.

#3. You will never know what actual time it is

Because the Hiawatha trail main trailhead starts in Montana, but Lookout Pass ski area where you buy your ticket is in Idaho, and Idaho and Montana are in two different time zones it can get very confusing. Now you may be reading this and thinking that it’s logical to just reference Montana time because that’s where the trail starts. But actually half of the trail is in Idaho time because the first tunnel you bike through sends you straightunnamed-1 into Idaho from Montana. But then again be warned, I still don’t know this to be 100% because after riding the Hiawatha many times I still am very confused by the time concept.

#4. It’s fun for the whole family

Or in my case my best friend and I because we’re out of state college students.img_2858 But nonetheless, the Hiawatha trail is a perfect weekend outing for all ages. The 15-mile trail is mostly all downhill so it’s not as strenuous as 15 miles’ sounds. Along with this there are many pullout spots along the trail to take a break, take in the view and have a picnic.

#5. The views are incredible

I personally struggled with staying on the trail because of how pretty the scenery is. If you go later in the season, you’ll be able to see the trees begin to change color. So if you’re somebody who likes to look at everything but where you are going, go slow to avoid a spontaneous trip off the side of the trail.

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#6. There is a light at the end of the tunnel

One of the very cool things about the Hiawatha trail is that it use to a continental railroad system, and contains 7 sky high trestles along with 10 train tunnels. Right out of the gate, bikers will bike through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel which is 1.66 miles long. You will be totally consumed by darkness in this tunnel and it gets very cold. Unless you are Bane from the Dark Knight rises, it’s essential that you have a reliable and bright bike img_2848light, and no your IPhone flashlight will not suffice. It may sound scary to some, but the tunnels are one of the main attraction on the trail and an experience you don’t want to miss. Also, the acoustics in the St. Paul Pass tunnel will convince you that you should’ve auditioned for American Idol.

#7.  Make sure you pack the essentials

As a veteran of the Hiawatha trail I will tell you that it is much more fun if you pack the right things. Some of these necessities for ultimate fun on the trail include a helmet (everyone loves to be safe, also it’s required), gloves (the tunnels get very cold, so gloves come in clutch), a backpack (to hold all your snacks of course), snacks and a sack lunch (to fill your backpack of course. I also recommend img_2901packing a pb&j because it’s the one sandwich that taste best smashed), a bright light (if you have one, if not you can rent one), first aid kit (because better safe than sorry) and water (you’ve got to stay hydrated!). Also I recommend dressing in layers because some parts of the trail are more shaded then others which causes some to be colder than others.

#8. Always buy a shuttle pass

A shuttle pass is not required to buy because it’s possible to ride the 15 miles down to the bottom of the trail and then back up, and some people do this. However, from experience the 15 miles back up to the trailhead is a lot harder than the way down because, well, gravity. But when planning ahead purchasing a $9 shuttle pass so that you have the option to ride on the bus back up to the trailhead is never a bad idea. Better safe than sorry right? You never know what may happen to you on your 15-mile ride to the bottom. You may have plans to be an animal that day and go down and back up, but then realize you’re much more tired after the first half of the ride, or realize it took longer than you thought and you’re short on time. Like I said, it’s better safe than sorry, and also who doesn’t love fun facts and stories about the area provided to you by your very knowledge Hiawatha shuttle driver?  untitled-4

#9. Angels do exist on the Hiawatha trail

I recently learned on my past trip on the Hiawatha trail that angels exist. I was about 5 miles into the trail when tragedy struck and I popped a tire. I realized I was probably SOL because I never planned on popping a tire, because who plans on that? With ten more miles to go I began pedaling my sad self down the now extremely bumpy trail. After a mile or so on my embarrassing flat tire, a red haired angel pedaled up next to me on a blue bike and asked if I needed a replacement. Her name was Emma, or as I call her Angel Emma and she was one of the patrols on the trail that assisted the distressed like myself.  She quickly worked her magic and replaced my tire and sent me on my way. Thankfully Lookout Pass who operates the Hiawatha trail plans for people to have misfortunes down the trail.untitled-3

#10. Take your time on the trail and enjoy the ride

The Hiawatha trail has been dubbed the “crown jewel of rail to trail adventures” and a crown jewel of an adventure it is. Not only do you get to be outside exploring beautiful Montana Idaho but you get to be amongst other friendly cyclists! So enjoy the ride and take the whole day to experience it.

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Sad you missed your chance to ride the Hiawatha trail this season?

Because I know I would be if I missed it, but thankfully I didn’t! And because I didn’t you can experience parts of my ride in this short video.

Enjoy and visit www.ridethehiawatha.com for more information and to plan your trip next season!

 Have a hidden adventure you want to share?

Tell me about it!

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Montana: by a Northern Californian

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-8-47-46-amIt is no secret that the majority of the University of Montana student body is made up of Montana born and raised students (we’re talking 74% in-state). It is also no secret that there are “Keep California Out!” signs on everyone’s lawn (not really).

“Oh where are you from?” – Seemingly interested older Montanan

“Sacramento, California!” – Me

“…I’m sorry…” – Now uninterested and bitter older Montanan

“I’m not 🙂 Thanks for having me!” – Smiling me

Take a minute to listen up. I may not speak on behalf of the rest of the Californians in Montana, but I have a perspective I’d love to share. The second I stepped on University of Montana’s campus I knew that it could be my home away from home. The city of Missoula, hell the state of Montana, felt like hugging someone that you haven’t seen in years. I’ve been here for 4 very short years and no, I don’t plan on staying, but yes I will be back to visit. The reason being that it offered the experience of a lifetime for this particular time in my life.
For anyone who’s interested, University of Montana allowed me to step away from most everything I knew in Sacramento (yes I had seen snow, every year in Tahoe minus the recent winters). I was able to clearly establish my values as a young adult, assess the type of future I wanted, and walk away with some of the best friendships I will have for a lifetime.
You see, us Northern Californians appreciate tall trees, snowcapped mountains, cleaning our campsites and wandering to find that adventure just doesn’t end. I can single-handedly agree that California has some extreme undesirables. But so does Montana (hello Meth Capital), so does Colorado, so does New York, and Wyoming and every other state you can name. How do you think Arizona feels hosting all the frail Montana old-timers looking for warm retirement? Probably a mix of “stay in your own state” and “please contribute to our economy; look we have handicap approved EVERYTHING!”

I’ll leave on this note. The amount of times that people think that I’m a Montanan prior to asking is remarkable. Let’s just say I’ve had to convince just about everyone I meet with a valid California drivers license. My experience with those who are excited to have me is what makes Montana “the last best place”. The nay-sayers couldn’t keep me out if they tried.

By: Lia Sbisa, proud Sacramento Native and Montana Visitor

Explore Western Montana: 4 Places off the Beaten Path

Natural beauty is synonymous with the word Montana. Anywhere one ends up in this lovely state there is bound to be a mountain to hike, a river to float, or a ghost town to get into. The Treasure State surely lives up to its name in more ways than one. Growing up and exploring this state has provided many uniquely Montana moments and memories. In the following post I’ll highlight some exceptional places off the beaten path to experience the Montana that most do not see.

Trapper Peak

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One of the best and certainly highest views in the Bitteroot range usually comes with some snow. Breathtaking is an understatement when referring to both the views and the hike itself. The trail starts off in series of rather steep switchbacks, it gently ascends up the ridge afterwards until the treeline. Overall this is a moderate intensity hike for most people. Looking out onto the Bitteroot Valley and the glacial lakes below from atop this peak is surely something that everyone needs to add to their bucket-list.

Trapper’s Location

Hiking Info

 

Kootenai Creek

Kootenai1Kootenai3Kootenai creek reminds me of the good parts of the Oregon coast right here in Montana. As soon as you leave the car at the trailhead you enter this rare little slice of heaven where prominent rock faces on both sides focus one’s attention onto the swift flowing alpine creek in the bottom of the valley. The first few miles follow this creek and some side trails up the mountain provide for some great views. In the summer it’s not uncommon to find rock-climbers on these intimidating faces. Anytime of year is good for this breathtaking scenery.

Kootenai’s Location

Missoulian Article

Ajax Lake

Ajax1The road up to this lake is surely the first thing to mention. Above the lake lies an old mine and to get to that mine there is an old and very rocky road. As a kid the way up always scared me to death as the large rocks in culmination with a steep drop off always had me walking through the what ifs in my head. Rounding the last corner and finally seeing the abandoned mining cabins was always a relief, but actually seeing that crisp blue mountain lake truly made that nerve-wracking trip worthwhile. Exploring the area and what remains of the cabin and mines gives some hints as to the history of this place, but one of the bigger stories that hangs  on this mountain was the nearly fatal mountaineering accident Hank Williams Jr. suffered here. Ajax lake is certainly one of the better mountain lakes out there for its combination of fishing, beauty, and history; an unforgettable road for an unforgettable experience.

Ajax’s Location

Ajax Peak Hiking Info

Coolidge Ghost Town

This isn’t Virginia City nor Garnet, way up in the Pintler range sits a ghost town that looks like it could actually have ghosts. Houses melt into the ground and trees, while the only sound comes from the creek flowing right next to the main street. An old mining camp is the main feature here with a 100 year glimpse back into an entirely different style of living. Once you make it to the parking area the short walk follows the old road right into town. With some further exploration behind this town one will find some beautiful yet trail-less alpine lakes. Ultimately the place feels as abandoned as it looks. This is a truly authentic ghost town, waiting to be explored.coolildge1Coolidge2

Coolidge’s Location

More Information

 

 

Blog Post by Devin Carlson

Zoo Town Brew Fest Lineup

MSO Brewfest
If you live in Missoula, and enjoy drinking beer, then I am sure that you are fully aware of what has happened in the last 10 years, but first, go back in time to 1986. At this time, Missoula Brewing had been out of business for over 20 years, and Americanized pilsners like Ranier dominated the market. In 1987, German brewmaster Jürgen Knö¨ller opened up Bayern Brewing, and the local craft beer industry had once again been established in Missoula. Five years after Bayern’s opening, Jürgen and a few other local business owners started an annual tradition that still holds today. The annual Garden City Brewfest had begun, and craft brew lovers have flocked to Caras Park in downtown Missoula for the event ever since.

Now, look back to just ten years ago. Believe it or not, there were only three breweries in Missoula. In the past 10 years, the love for craft beer has blown up to ridiculous proportions, and the greater Missoula area is soon to be home to over 10 breweries!

When you live in a city like Missoula, which is in a state that takes 2nd in the nation for breweries per capita, one brewfest is simply not enough. The first brewfest of 2016 was the Winter Brewfest, which was on February, 19th but there are still five more to come!

Remember, drink responsibly!

Backcountry-Hunters-Anglers

April 1st

Backcountry Brewfest

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April 16th

Bacon & Brew Fest

Caras Park

 

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May 7th

Garden City Brewfest

Caras Park

 

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September TBA

Mavericks Brewfest

Caras Park

 

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October TBA

MBA Fall Fest

Caras Park

Montana Adventures

Montana Adventures

By Andrew Moreland

The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.

Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana                                  (Scroll down to find more information about them)

Hiking & Backpacking

Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)

Whitewater Kayaking

Skiing & Snowboarding

Mountain Biking

Hot Springs 

Hiking and Backpacking

One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.

Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.

Glacier National Park

 

Rock Climbing (Indoor)

Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula.  I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.

Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!

Freestone Climbing Website

Rock Climbing (Outdoor)

Around Missoula there is a bunch of awesome areas to climb, go grab some buddies and start sending! Summer and fall days are the best to go out and explore these beautiful areas.

Here is the website with more information about the incredible outdoor rock climbing located close to Missoula!

Rock Climbing – Missoula, MT

Whitewater Kayaking

Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.

Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.

Alberton Gorge – Clark Fork River

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.

Here is the website for Montana Snowbowl.

Montana Snowbowl

Here is the website for Big Sky.

Big Sky Resort

 

Mountain Biking

I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.

Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!

Missoula Mountain Biking

 

Hot Springs

From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.

Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.

Montana Hot Springs

 

About the Author

I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!

Andrew Moreland