Author Topic: Great Northwest options  (Read 3206 times)

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Offline brhoward

Great Northwest options
« on: May 18, 2018, 02:24:14 pm »
Traveling cross country soon and will be on the TA route when reaching Mizzoula. From there I want to do the Road to the Sun in Glacier and the Bitterroot loops before heading to the coast. Can anyone give me specifics on what trails to include. I'm very interested in the Hiawatha, NorPac, Trail Coeur d'Aelene, Centennial,  maybe Fish Trap, John Wayne which deviates me from the TA, but what the hey, I'm looking for those 'Can't miss' adventures along the way. and a way to end up with my front wheel in the Pacific. I have options on bikes as I have a hybrid, a road bike and a trike with me in our RV.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Great Northwest options
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 05:04:50 pm »
I have ridden the Coeur d'Arlene and the Hiawatha.  Both fantastic.  You will have to take the Interstate in parts west of Missoula to get to the Hiawatha unless you are coming down from Glacier.  IF you can tolerate about 5-10 miles (estimate, from a few miles west of St Regis to the ID border) of good gravel road but a climb to the border where it becomes paved again, I highly recommend you take National Forest road 282 southwest of St, Regus, MT, to the St. Jo road (Route 50) then over to Avery (limited groceries, a basic cafe, a hotel, and possibly a CG but lots of free camping nearby in forest) then up gravel NF-456 to the start of the Hiwatha which is also course gravel to fine gravel.  The St. Jo River is one of the most scenic I have ridden along, highly comparable to the Lochsa on the TA route but shorter.

This route gives you very little traffic (maybe 150 a day on a weekday) and fantastic scenery BUT no services other than camping (no water so must filter or beg) until Avery.  Otherwise you have to do the interstate but then you at least get a mostly downhill Hiawatha.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Northwest options
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2018, 08:41:27 am »
If you are thinking of doing Hiawatha, NorPac and CdL you are talking about a convoluted routing. What you would do is what is suggested above from St. Regis to Avery and then to the Hiawatha. At East Portal, which is the eastern end of the Hiawatha, you would take the dirt road down to Taft and make a left onto the NorPac and start climbing back up. Note that the NorPac is not a "warm and fuzzy" trail. It's not paved, and the surface is not crushed limestone. It's dirt and gravel with larger stones/rocks in places. Walk through the short tunnel as the surface is bad. Tough tires are strongly recommended. Also, it's open to motor vehicles. Encountered a couple on my way west up to Lookout Pass. With that said, it's better than I-90 up to Lookout. There are bathrooms, water and food available at the pass. From there, you can continue down on the NorPac to Larson and then to Mullan or take I-90 for 7 miles to Mullan to pick up the CdL. I did the latter because I was tired of the bumpiness of the Olympian and NorPac Trails. It's all down hill with enough shoulder. There is an RV park just off the CdL in Wallace that has a nice brewery/restaurant attached to it. Sites are close and you don't get a picnic table, but it will do.

There is a U.S.F.S. campground with water on St. Joe River Rd. 10 miles east of Avery:

There is another one slightly further west (Turner Flat), but I don't know if it has water.

Parts of the Centennial Trail are not rideable. Met a couple inWallace, ID who tired to do the portion out of Mullan. They had to turn back. Said it didn't even look passable by MTB.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2018, 09:12:29 am by BikeliciousBabe »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Northwest options
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 08:13:38 am »
BTW...You are going to have to do a good deal of backtracking if you go from Missoula up to Glacier and then back to somewhere like St. Regis to head for the Hiawatha. Missoula to W. Glacier is a good three days. Two if you are a animal. Then what?

Offline jamawani

Re: Great Northwest options
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2018, 08:55:05 am »
No - - you don't have to take the Interstate if you ride the Coeur d'Alene Trail - -
If you get off the trail at Cataldo and ride over Thompson Pass to Thompson Falls.
Paved forest road, fairly light traffic - bit more on weekends.
Murray, ID is a charming, nearly abandoned mining town.

Hwy 200 from Thompson Falls to Missoula is significantly busier.
(Detour to the Mission Mountains is well worth it.)
Some short stretches with little shouder - but some I-90 bridges have no shoulder, too.
Overall far better to use Hwy 200 than I-90.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Northwest options
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2018, 10:33:29 am »
I think the I-90 assumption was based on heading west from Missoula through St. Regis and beyond to eventually get to the start of the CdL. Did that last year. Only one bridge that you have to ride (no frontage road option) has no shoulder. About 4 miles east of Tarkio, and it's only 0.1 miles long.

Good sammys and what looked like good pizza in Murray. If you want to do more of the CdL you can take Kings Pass directly from Murray and then Dobson Pass, which will take you to Wallace. Kings Pass in unpaved, but the surface is good. Mostly hard packed dirt with some gravel. But be prepared to climb. Dobson going that way has some very steep pitches.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 11:25:14 am by BikeliciousBabe »