Day 3 – Route of Hiawatha on Milwaukee Road

I first discovered the rails-to-trails Route of the Hiawatha on the Milwaukee Road in 2013, and knew I wanted to incorporate in my cross-country American Old West Expedition.

I was lured by the tall trestles, rail bridges and the majority of lines 51 tunnels that cut through the rugged St. Joe River Canyons and into Lolo National Forest in Montana. 
The Milwaukee Road, the last continental railroad that survived the “Golden Era” of railroad. Rails have been pulled but the route across Saint Joseph National Forest is now one of America’s premier rail-to-trails for motorized and hiking-biking.
I vowed to return and explore more of them as well ride the 15 mile biking section that has rentals at both end of the 1.66 mile St. Paul Tunnel. Unfortunately, bike rentals were closed.
So many tunnels, so little time.
Looking down from the upper line in Moon Pass. Abandoned lines run on both sides of the St.Joe River Fork.
A group of Overlanders are nestled in a barley visible dispersed camp along the river.
Making my way down to explore the lower route.
The first time I passed this way, I decided to stay in Wallace, an outstanding old west survivor, once the hub of activity for this mining region, home to many great structures like the Northern Pacific Railroad Station, now a museum.
I picked the Ryan Hotel, an excellent restored period hotel, with clean rooms with lots of old world character.
Across the street a reminder of one of many thriving enterprises during the boom years.
The second time I passed this way, I made my way back to a Riverside camp, I tagged while passing by.
Having reached Avery Station, I traveled abandoned railway beds that crisscross St. Joe River and the secondary forks where old railway bridges are open to motor vehicles.

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