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Old 04-24-14, 06:50 AM   #1
gemaurer48
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Rails to Trails Spokane to Glacier National?

Hi-

I recently posted in the Pac NW Forum about my bike trip from Seattle to Boston, with the hope of using some "rails to trails" routes as a part of what will be largely a road trip. I'm in need of advice, now, for the Spokane to Glacier National Park leg of my ride.


I am looking for are some options - interesting ones- that will get me to that area of Montana. I'm planning on carrying two sets of tires with me, for some of the less-road tire friendly portions of the Iron Horse Trail, as well as having regular road tires, so I don't mind switching now and then. I'm retracing the route a friend from MN took in 1988, which largely followed US 2 from Seattle into ND (She died of cancer 2 years ago and this is a memorial ride in her name to raise $$ for the Mayo Cancer Clinic), but I'm also combining it with my love of trains and of history. So, while I could take her old path of US 2 from Spokane to Sandpoint then to Kalispell, I'm wondering what advice you have as alternates to that.


I'm a Minnesotan, so we aren't used to bears, etc. That said, I plan to camp a lot of this trip, but want to be smart about it too.


Best,


George Maurer
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Old 04-25-14, 12:12 PM   #2
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I've rode Trail of the Couer d' Alenes 8 or 9 years ago. It's 72 miles in length and far away from the highway for much of it's length. One of the purposes of the path is actually to cover up the toxic minerals that fell off the rail cars as they transported silver ore from the mines in the area. The path is a little extra wide and manicured due to this. There is fencing along sections with warnings not to get off the pavement, touch the dirt, or swim in the river. Still it was very nice and I talked to many locals who poo-pooed the warnings about the "toxic" mine tailings. You can get all the way to St Regis Montana before you have to get off of the Rails to Trails system.

I haven't ridden the Route of the Hiawatha, but I hear it's awesome. It might be worth the detour.

When we did the ride, we rode back by going from Mullan to Thompson Falls, followed the Clark's Fork to Sandpoint to Coeur d'Alenes and rode the Centennial Trial back to Spokane.

Both directions were fantastic routes.

You might want to re-post your question in the touring section there's a lot of non-pnw people who've been through the sections you're asking about.

Last edited by mtnbud; 04-25-14 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 04-25-14, 09:08 PM   #3
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George, I did what you're talking about as part of a tour in 2011.

I went from west to east. From Spokane, I used the Centennial Trail to get to Coeur d'Alene. From there I hopped on I-90 very briefly to get to ID-97 that follows the east side of Lake Coeur d'Alene. (There is no good way to get between CDA and 97 other than 90.) While I was warned about traffic on 97, I thought it was pretty light.

ID-89 brings you to Harrison where you connect with the Trail of the Couer d' Alenes and take that west until it ends in Mullan. Mullan is a pretty depressing and desolate town, but Wallace, the town west of Mullan has a fascinating history and is a better place to spend the night if you decide to. From the end I used I-90 primarily to St. Regis, as there is no real good parallel road and while theoretically there was a rail-trail following the Milwaukee Road line, it was very much unimproved (at least in 2011 when I rode it.) After St Regis there are more options of parallel roads following the Interstate to get into Missoula, but I had to get on 90 for a few sections.

I know another way east from Wallace/Mullan would be to use the National Forest roads over the mountains to get over to MT-200 at Thompson Falls, and then take 200 all the way into Missoula. I was a bit pressed for time so I went the route I went. I found most of the sections of freeway I rode to be actually pretty good, wide and nicely paved. But freeway riding isn't everyone's cup o' tea, of course.

Here are a few accounts of the route from my blog:
"How did you get here?" or, Things You Don?t Want To Do On A Bike Tour (but sometimes have to) | Urban Adventure League
Panhandles, Rail Trails, Freeways, and Changing Time Zones: Our Ride from Coeur d?Alene, Idaho to Missoula, Montana (Tues June 21-Sat June 25) | Urban Adventure League
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Old 04-25-14, 09:12 PM   #4
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And I forgot to mention, from Missoula I followed the ACA North Parks route north toward Whitefish then hooked up with the Northern Tier route to Glacier.
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Old 04-25-14, 11:56 PM   #5
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Check out the offerings on Traillink.com. Here is the map page for Spokane. Scout about.

The John Wayne Pioneer Trail east of the Columbia is a Adventure. Scarce water, ballast to ride on, etc. You need to contact the state about access - many locked gates. If you can get to Sprague on I90, the Martin Rd. Trailhead of the Columbia Plateau Trail is a few miles east. You can ride that to join the Fish Lake Trail (nice) and that will take you into Spokane.

If you get to Spokane, you can ride the Centennial along the river to the WA/ID border, pick up the N. ID Centennial to C d' A. Bit of a blank spot until you get to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. This is a superb trail - one of the few destination trails in the West.

Check out the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trail website for maps and local info on how to get from Mullen over to the Route of the Hiawatha trailhead. That is a great ride. Buy the shuttle ticket for a ride back to the top. The USFS is extending the trail east along the Old Milwaukee Rd. from the ROH trailhead. They talk of 40 miles of trail, but how much is open?? I rode a portion from the ROH parking lot down to Dominion Creek last season. Nice.
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Old 04-25-14, 11:57 PM   #6
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The missing URL

<http://www.traillink.com/trailsearch.aspx?city=spokane&state=WA>
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Old 06-06-14, 12:18 AM   #7
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Spokane to Glacier

Adventurepdx-
I was curious about how long the trip from Spokane to Glacier took you. I'm thinking about doing the same trip next week but am unsure of the timespan. Any info would be great!

Cheers,

Joe

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And I forgot to mention, from Missoula I followed the ACA North Parks route north toward Whitefish then hooked up with the Northern Tier route to Glacier.
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Old 06-06-14, 12:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by springj7 View Post
Adventurepdx-
I was curious about how long the trip from Spokane to Glacier took you. I'm thinking about doing the same trip next week but am unsure of the timespan. Any info would be great!
Without our stop in Missoula, I believe it was about two weeks to do Spokane-Trail of the Couer D'Alene-Missoula-Glacier. The blog entry I mentioned above has more info.
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