Author Topic: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula  (Read 4290 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2021, 12:04:04 pm »
In St Regis the trail does not start until Little Joe Creek Road for the Route of the Olympian. When you say the route east of Tarkiro - I think you are referring to Tekoa, and that detour is well documented, as well as the one around the private land with the missing trestle. There are a lot of good video "vlogs" out on YouTube of people biking these sections and I found a trail journal of someone who recently hiked it. Plus, there is horse and wagon group that does and annual trail ride end to end of the Palouse to Cascades Trail and posts a booklet (free to download) with updated trail and detour information. There are locked gates in some areas, but if you register with the state they provide you with combinations to the gates.

The area with the closed tunnel on the east side of Tekoa has a large rockslide on the west side of the tunnel and the trestle is missing a lot of decking and, in my opinion, unsafe. There are plans to re-deck the trestle but we are planning the detour unless we see evidence that the dangers have been resolved.

I have probably spent around 20 to 30 hours reviewing aerial maps, trip reports, and videos, and the route looks very doable once you plan for the detours. Another factor in the section west of the Columbia River is tumbleweeds up to 10 feet deep blowing into some cuts and tunnel entrances. The wagon riders clear those before their ride on Memorial Day but we are coming later, so planning a road bypass of this area.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Iowagriz

Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2021, 01:48:08 pm »
What bike are you riding and how much off road do you want?

Wild West Route (now Western Wildlands Route) can be caught from Wallace and will get you to Superior, MT. All gravel forest service roads, Hiawatha rail trail and remnants of rail road path. Some pavement, but no blockages. All good from Wallace to Superior (I rode that last August).

WWR now has a spur from Superior to Missoula (or will shortly be published). I scouted that one for them. Big climb, 4 or 5k in 25 miles (from memory). Up and over the ridge and then down Ninemile Valley and into Missoula (all forest service roads).

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2021, 02:07:59 pm »
We are riding Surly Disc Truckers. I will take a look at the WWR. Right now we are on the TransAm Eastern Express from Washington, DC until Walden, CO. It is basically roads from Wheeling, WV to Walden, CO aside from 178 miles of the KATY trail. From DC is Wheeling is predominantly trails/paths as is ST. Regis to Seattle.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Iowagriz

Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2021, 02:17:51 pm »
WWR at www.bikepackingroots.org
(If I remember correctly)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2021, 02:25:42 pm »
It looks like the WWR is more suited for at least front suspension mountain bikes and not touring bikes with panniers. Also the 3,000 to 4,000K of climbing per segment will not WOW my wife :)   However, it looks like the section that you are suggesting is part of our planned route, which is part of the Great American Rail-trail Route https://gis.railstotrails.org/grtamerican/ This uses the Olympian, NorPac, and Palouse to Cascades Trails.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2021, 12:29:36 pm »
In St Regis the trail does not start until Little Joe Creek Road for the Route of the Olympian. When you say the route east of Tarkiro - I think you are referring to Tekoa, and that detour is well documented, as well as the one around the private land with the missing trestle.
I am taking about Tarkiro/Triple Bridges and the section a bit west of there that hugs the river appears to be a private road:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Triple+Bridges+-+Alberton+Gorge/@47.0200808,-114.6613939,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x535e0d62dec45c27:0x1ea873ae07d87b79!8m2!3d47.0200772!4d-114.6570166

And I rode the first couple of miles west from St. Regis in 2017. It was horribly bumpy. I was bouncing around on 37c tires. Once I reached the point to detour around the missing bridge I opted for I-90. Note that I also encountered a motorist. The NorPac Trail is also open to motor vehicles. The first time I rode the west slope to Lookout Pass I encountered one car and later two people on ATVs.

All that aside, one thing you might want to consider is incorporating the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Really cool ride which I did in 2019. Since I was heading west, I took Little Joe Rd. all the way to what I was later told is called Gold Pass at the border with ID. 15 miles of gravel, but there are only a couple of sections that are tough (8%+). At the pass/border, the road becomes paved. Appeared to have been resurfaced relatively recently. The descent is fabulous and quite scenic. Once you get down to the St. Joe River there are a couple of campgrounds with water before Avery. I stayed at Tin Pan Flats. Virtually no traffic on a Sunday. The next morning I rode into Avery and took the old Milwaukee Road right of way up to the Pearson Trail Head of the Hiawatha. It is also gravel and features a few easy tunnels. The Hiawatha Trail has about a dozen more tunnels and several high trestles. The last tunnel heading "east" is the St. Paul Pass Tunnel, which is 1.66 miles long as brings you back into Montana to the East Portal Trailhead. A good light is required as the tunnel is completely unlit. I had 500 lumens. Minimum recommendation is 350 lumens. From East Portal it's easy to connect up with the NorPac Trail.

This is the map for the day along the St. Joe from a bit west of St. Regis:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30007721

Then the day to Wallace, ID that included the Hiawatha Trail:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28822925

Ignore those crazy elevation spikes along the trail. GPS is reading off the tops of all the tunnels. The spoke at 42.9 is the one tunnell on the NorPac Trail.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2021, 06:32:15 pm »
Okay, found Tarkio, MT this time -- The last time I searched for Tarkio, it showed me a town in Missouri and not Montana. We plan to ride north from Missoula to St. Regis primarily on Mulan road but we were routed on Old Route 10 there. I found the bridge you are speaking off - any idea when it collapsed? Google maps must not know the bridge is out, it has a street view from August 2019 of the south side and September 2019 of the north side with a cyclist and kayakers. Luckily it is a short hop on and off of I90 there. Thanks for the heads up.

I looked at your suggestion of running down Little Joe Road to the river and back up and it looks like a good alternative. We had planned on skipping the route of the Hiawatha since all the videos we have seen shows it choked with kids and novices. (Maybe avoid weekends) We already run 900 lumen lights and I am probably adding a 1400 for the trip. We have done tons of tunnels and I seem to suffer from sensory depravation in the deep dark tunnels, so i never have too much light (as long as your are not pointing at the eyes of oncoming cyclists :) )
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2021, 09:22:43 pm »
Had no idea it collapsed. I was there last in June of ‘19. It must have been structurally unsound because it was closed to motor vehicles even in 2017 but not bikes and peds. It’s a shame if it’s gone. Made a nice place for a breather.

But one thing: Heading west, the I-90 bridge just after that point had no shoulder to speak of. Fortunately, it was only 0.2 miles long. Don’t know about the eastbound side if that’s the way you’ll be going. Also, in 2019 that stretch of I-90 was closed in preparation for road work. It’s possible that those bridges were scheduled to be replaced. I ignored the closure signs and had the westbound lanes all to myself. Quite fun.

And I should have mentioned that St. Joe Rd. is probably not the best on the weekends according to a local. Thinking back, I actually rode it on a Monday in mid-June. I didn’t encounter even 10 moving vehicles between St. Regis and the campground. When I reached the campground there were tags on almost every campsite. I looked at them and saw the departure dates were all Sunday. The host, who seemed to be away, must not have removed them. It was an indication that weekends are much busier.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2021, 07:13:06 am »
Sorry, I was under the impression that the bridge was no longer there from reading your post. I could not find any indication that it had collapsed. In fact, everything I saw shows it standing and useable for foot/bike traffic.

Google actually show the Interstate bridges under construction in 2019. We are are heading West (North at that point)
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 09:08:09 am by HikeBikeCook »
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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: The Great American Rail Trail Seattle to Missoula
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2021, 09:22:30 am »
As an alternative from Missoula to St Regis we could also use 93/200 heading Northeast out of Wye - 36 miles with 93, heavy traffic but mostly decent shoulder. A couple miles of bike path through Arlee. At Ravalli we would turn Northwest with MT 200 (light traffic) up to the intersection of MT 135 at the junction of the Flathead and Clark Fork River. MT 135 runs 21 miles into St. Regis but the shoulder is almost non-existent with moderate traffic. This is about 7 miles longer than following I-90 up the valley.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966