The Pearson-to-Calder Trail, part of the Idaho Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail system, passes through the scenic St. Joe River Valley and connects the popular Route of the Hiawatha
with the towns of Avery, Marble Creek and Calder in northern Idaho. The section from Pearson to Avery, which is actually a lightly used forest service road (National Forest Development Road 456/Moon Pass Road), follows the North Fork of the St. Joe River and offers striking views of the valley below. From Avery to Calder, the trail follows the main St. Joe River and provides a pleasant gradual grade for walking and biking.
The Pearson-to-Calder Trail runs adjacent to the corridor of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, commonly known as the Milwaukee Road. The Idaho portions of rail line were built between 1906 and 1909. Having more than 656 miles of electrified track, the Milwaukee Road was ground-breaking in terms of long-distance electrification. In addition, this line supported both freight and passenger trains, including high-speed intercity trains, such as the steam-powered Hiawatha. In 1980 more than 1,000 miles were abandoned between Miles City, Montana, and Maple Valley, Washington.
Other rail-trails on the Milwaukee Road include the Route of the Hiawatha, the Kim Williams Nature Trail
and part of the Riverfront Trail
in Montana, as well as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Washington
To access the trail, you can park your vehicle in Pearson, Avery, Marble Creek or Calder (running east to west). Much of the segment from Avery to Calder runs parallel to Rt.50, so it's also possible at certain points to park on the side of the road and cross the St. Joe River (where there are bridges) to access the trail.
It was sad to us that that most end the journey in the Bitterroots at the Hiawatha and shuttle back. We loved this segment of the Bitterroot loop. I will say though, you need the tires for it. We have a tandem trike with 1.75 stock tires and it handled ...