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The Railroad Right-of-Way Trail winds through the pristine wilderness of Idaho's Targhee National Forest. The sprawling forest is a unit of the even larger Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which borders famous Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Built on a former railroad corridor that once provided tourist access from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to West Yellowstone, Montana, the trail parallels Warm River for a few miles from its south trailhead at Warm Springs Campground. About 3 miles north of the campground, a short tunnel—original to the railroad—leads through a steep piece of terrain. Unfortunately, the tunnel suffered a cave-in in 2008, so access is prohibited. The trail has been rerouted just to the east, providing closer views of the Warm River.
North of the closed tunnel, the trail continues through pine and fir forest before emerging into a boggy stretch of terrain. Springs and creeks are abundant along the entire length of the trail, but this section can be particularly wet. Trail users who want to stay dry (or avoid slogging through sandy soil) can take the adjacent forest road to avoid this segment.
The trail continues north of the Idaho–Montana state line, but a decrepit river bridge prevents the full trip along the railroad grade to West Yellowstone. Trail users can instead take S. Fork Road (Forest Road 478) to reach the city, which offers lodging, restaurants and shops as a popular gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
The main access to the Railroad Right-of-Way Trail is from the Bear Gulch Trailhead northeast of Ashton, Idaho. An underpass leads under the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (State Route 47) from the parking lot to the trail.
The trail can also be accessed from Warm River Campground at the actual southern terminus, but a parking fee is charged by the concessionaire.
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