Route of the Olympian


12 Reviews

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Route of the Olympian Facts

States: Montana
Counties: Mineral
Length: 31.2 miles
Trail end points: Route of the Hiawatha (East Portal) and Little Joe Road (St. Regis)
Trail surfaces: Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6426160

Route of the Olympian Description


The 31-mile Route of the Olympian is one of several rail-trails occupying the former Pacific route of the Milwaukee Road, which originally connected the railroad's Wisconsin hub with Washington state—nearly 2,000 miles to the west. 

About the Route

The Route of the Olympian has a complex set of use restrictions due to its fragmented course and local transportation needs. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the westernmost 8.6 miles of the trail from the connection with the Route of the Hiawatha at Taft to the tiny community of Saltese are restricted to non-motorized use only. ATV and snowmobile use are popular during other seasons of the year. 

The stunning Dominion tunnel and trestle are located near the midpoint of this section of the Route of the Olympian. The trestle is restricted to non-motorized use year-round. The trail from the trestle to the trail's eastern terminus is a two-lane road of fine gravel. West of the trestle, the trail turns into a single-lane gravel road and has much more loose surface rock. The Old Dominion trestle is a stunning bridge that cuts through the trees and offers what some consider to be the "view from the top of the world."

Bikers and walkers share the trail with motorized vehicles from Saltese East to St. Regis, as the route provides popular locations for fishing and a local transportation alternative to busy (and difficult to access) Interstate 90. Portions of the route are technically marked as county roads, though they see very little traffic.


Near the trail's western endpoint in East Portal, trail users can continue along the Route of the Hiawatha and the NorPac Trail.

The Route of the Olympian is part of the Great American Rail Trail, a 3,700-mile route from Washington to Washington D.C. 

Parking and Trail Access

The Route of the Olympian runs between Route of the Hiawatha (East Portal) and Little Joe Road (St. Regis).

Parking is available near the trail's western endpoint, along the entrance to East Portal Rd., near Rainy Creek Rd. 506. 

This is an approximate address, please see TrailLink Map for detailed directions.

Route of the Olympian Reviews


This trail had been on my bucket list since we rode down to the tunnel from the Hiawatha trailhead in 2017. That was at the tail end of our trip and we had run out of time to explore. Today we finally got to do at least part of the Olympian on our gravel tandem. We parked in Haugan and rode up to East Portal, then back down past Haugan about two miles, stopping for ice cream at the colorful trailer with the M&M's theme along the trail back at Haugan. Having sampled it six years ago and being experienced gravel riders, we pretty much knew what to expect in terms of difficulty and trail characteristics. The trail was in good shape overall; the section up to Saltese was a little chunkier than north of Saltese but we easily managed with our tubeless Maxxis Ramblers, 700x50c. The southern section also had numerous low spots, not really potholes, but they do give you a good jolt if you hit them wrong. They were pretty easy to steer around in most cases. The short section just north of Saltese trestle up to the new NORPAC trail access road is a different texture of rock--coarser and a little bigger--and it shook the bike pretty noticeably but again, very manageable. Speaking of Saltese trestle, it seems to be in pretty good shape; the gravel is deeper than on the trail itself but it's easily rideable. Glad to hear of the preservation efforts the locals have undertaken there, I'd say it looks succesful. Dominion Creek Trestle is just breathtaking and it's my new favorite. So peaceful and scenic. Tunnel 19 was a bit muddy at the south entrance so we elected to walk our bike through it both ways just to try and stay a bit cleaner. After reaching East Portal and resting for a short time we bombed back downhill and went past Haugan about 2 miles just because we felt like it. Along the way we encountered several ATV's, all of which were very courteous to us and very friendly. We also met another local couple riding their mountain bikes on the trail and had a nice visit with them as well. All in all, a great day on a fabulously scenic trail! Next trip we will do the remainder down to St. Regis.

Been there, done that, don’t need to go back.

This completed my ride of the Montana section of the Great American Rail Trail. Rode from St. Regis to the East Portal of the Route of the Hiawatha and back down. Was a long day of riding, estimated 65 miles. This is a multi-use trail, so basically it is a gravel/dirt road with vehicle access on 90% or better of the route. Some vehicles were encountered on the return trip and two other bike groups were going west as I was coming back down. There is some trail signage, however at the 2.5 mile mark there was a confusing intersection, look for the ATV bypass sign and follow. The remainder of the trail was generally straight forward to follow. A few deer and one moose calf were seen on the trail. Overall the trail condition was good with a few sections of loose gravel but easy enough to get through. Being rail-to-trail the grade was a steady but gradual climb to the finish.

Route of the Olympian Trail

Rode this trail in June, 2021 as part of the 300k Bitterroot Loop. Loop riders head East on the Coeur D'Alene and Nor Pac trails, then turn around & head back West on the Hiawatha Trail. You can turn around at Taft or Saltese, but we chose to turn around at Haugan, where there was lodging & a restaurant available. Riding East from Lookout Pass, we left the Nor Pac 1/2 mile before Saltese, making the right turn at the sign marked "upper grade." This takes you to the Olympian Trail. 1/2 mile East of this connection, there is a RR bridge with loose gravel, holes in the deck, and no side railings -- better to walk the bikes across. East of this bridge, the surface is excellent -- packed dirt with no large rocks, no ruts, no soft sand, and very few potholes. It could be muddy after a rain, but for us it was a perfect surface, easily ridable on our road bikes with 35mm tires. Clearly the surface has been graded and filled in since the 2019 reviews were posted. Cannot say what the surface is like East of Haugan.

The next morning we left Haugan and headed back (West), continuing on the Olympian beyond the Nor Pac turnoff in Saltese. The surface continued to be excellent all the way to the Hiawatha trail. Scenery was awesome, saw some wildlife, and the Dominion Trestle was impressive -- you are riding at treetop level. The short tunnel just past the Trestle had a muddy surface, so better to walk the bikes there.

this trail is used a lot by ATV's and turned into a gravel pit. came from the west and by 5 miles in the freeway, I 90 was looking good. could be a beautiful trail but now needs lots of work.

this trail is used a lot by ATV's and turned into a gravel pit. came from the west and by 5 miles in the freeway, I 90 was looking good. could be a beautiful trail but now needs lots of work.


loved this trail

Rode from Hiawatha east on trail of the olympians. We went 13 miles down the trail and then rode back Lovely shade along the way and a river to sit and have a snack listening to the babbling creek. It was pure delight. 2 trestles and 1 tunnel. Going to ride from St Regis up tomorrow.

St. Regis, westbound

With the encouraging news about the Great American Rail Trail spanning our continent with off road bicycle paths, I decided to try a portion of it beginning with the Route of the Olympian. The trail starts in St. Regis Montana, running westerly on the railbed of the Milwaukee. It runs beside the St. Regis River with gorgeous views through the Ponderosa Pines and parallels the Interstate 90. This highway is frequently in view but far enough away that one is not inundated with traffic noise. The first third of the 30 mile is studded with coarse gravel making me grateful for my 2.3 inch wide tires. After 30 miles of gentle but continual climb at the top of Lookout Pass just across the border of Idaho the trail becomes the Route of the Hiawatha. Cycling in late May, I was concerned with the report of a creek crossing the trail which one cyclist reported having to ford. Sure enough at 2.5 miles from St. Regis, just after crossing Two Mile Rd. the trail ended unceremoniously with no signage other than a discouraging “No Outlet” at a very full rushing torrent. However, if one travels south on Two Mile Rd. for 1/10 of a mile, the road itself crosses the creek and immediately thereafter a small sign points to the right saying “ATV Access”. This little trail quickly leads back to the Route. At 4.5 miles the gravel becomes thick and loose but only for .3 miles. After 10 miles trail becomes more hard beaten dirt, less gravel, on into Idaho. In summary, the trail is not as well cared for and does not enjoy the spectacular vistas, far from noisy highways as the Route of the Hiawatha which it joins. But it is well worth the experience for those who have the privilege of doing both trails.

Nice Low Traffic Ride

We rode from our hotel (the Silver Dollar Inn) in Haugen to the top where it meets the Route Of The Hiawatha and back. The trail surface was good. 1 tunnel and 2 trestles (one of which has been refurbished, the other hasn't but both passable) . Views of the St Regis river. Not quite as spectacular of a trail as the Hiawatha but still very nice. We only encountered 1 other person and this was on a Saturday.

Top part great, bottom not so much.

Starting at the East Portal and heading east the trail is great. Decent surface and there is a nice curved tunnel and then a high trestle. It gets a bit rough at the second bridge but then smooths out again. By about 11 miles from the top is flattens out and the gets really rough. Ok for ATV, not bikes.

Best way to the Hiawatha

This was my favorite trail of the old Milwaukee Road rail trails in this area. My only complaint is the lack of signage. With online maps, like Google maps, showing the trail, it wasn't hard to see where it should be. We picked it up in Saltese, after riding there on the NorPac the day before. They run parallel to one another, and there is a new access to the Olympian from the NorPac just west of Saltese. A sign there said "new road to upper grade", and it was in better shape than the one I had planned to take from Silver Creek Rd. Once on the Olympian, it's easy to follow, even with its lack of signs. This is basically a continuation of the Hiawatha, and just as nice, and free.

The trail from Saltese to the east portal of the Hiawatha is in great shape. We had no trouble along any of it with our 700x32 tires. The gradual ascent was very easy, and the scenery is beautiful. We were easily able to roll our bikes underneath the gate of the Dominion trestle.

I can only speak to this 8-9 mile section of the Olympian, not having ridden the eastern section. It is beautiful! It's the much better choice for getting from Saltese to the Hiawatha, even if it is a little bit longer than the NorPac. Details and photos on these trails are at my journal:

Review by Former Route of the Hiawatha Trail Marshall

As a former Trail Marshall on the Route of the Hiawatha, I wanted to experience and compare the Olympian trail. I rode in late August, 2014, from the western (Taft or East Portal) end to St. Regis. Contrary to the website description, the trail surface of the upper(western)half of the trail to opposite the 50,000 Dollar Bar is a good, relatively smooth surface. Beyond that, the trail surface is quite rough and should only be ridden with wide tires. Also, thereafter the trail is close to the interstate and scenery is less nice. Plan on taking a minimum of 3.5 hours to ride the whole trail to St. Regis and somewhat longer if riding west. A good day trip would be about 15 miles to the 50,000 Dollar Bar (across the interstate) for food and/or drink or espresso at the same location. There is a nice primitive campsite on the river just before this location. Most of the elevation drop (2-2.5%) is in the first five or so miles from East Portal. After that, the trail is mostly flat or slightly downhill. Scenery is nice altho pretty restricted to trees and the St. Regis River which is alongside much of the way. The one tunnel (about 100 yards long) and one trestle are in the first five miles from East Portal.

Grinding but worth it

Rode from St Regis to the Route of the Hiawatha. The beginning of the route wasn't marked. I looked at the satellite image of the route map to make sure I was starting in the right location. About 2-3 miles in to it, the trail turned into a single track that went down hill into a creek. The creek is calf deep in July. I know this because I unsuccessfully attempted to ride through it without getting off my bike. After the creek, you go up a small hill and the trail picks up again. There are no signs stating you're on the Route of the Olympian so a few places will have you guessing. It's a steady, gradual uphill climb all the way (from St Regis). Some sections are loose rock and gravel. I'm glad I was on my diesel, my tank, my 29" mountain bike. Initially, I thought about taking my hybrid. The thinner tires might have held up but they would have dug into the loose rock more. Although the trail was near the interstate, the traffic sounds didn't degrade the quality of the ride. There are no restrooms along the trail. There's a bridge around Saltese with large gaps in the surface. Keep going straight and you'll be fine. There's one tunnel on the route that was occupied by a moose. I made some noise and it ran the other direction. Overall, I enjoyed the ride. Beautiful scenery, fresh evergreen air in the lungs, whats not to like.

TRAILBEAR ON THE OLYMPIAN - Down to the trestle

This promised to be the first day that would not have showers and thunderstorms in the mountains, so we headed to Montana and the East Portal of the Route of the Hiawatha (a great ride)to see the new Route of the Olympian.

From East Portal, the Route of the Hiawatha heads west into Idaho with many tunnels and trestles. It is a Must Do ride. Fee: $10 and $9 for the shuttle back to the top. Pay and enjoy. It's worth it.

From the other end of the East Portal parking lot, the new Route of the Olympian heads east into Montana on the same Milwaukee Road bed. This one is free.

Head left at the parking lot and go to the far end. There is a newish restroom and electrical frame to mark the start of the trail. No signs yet.

The trail bed is a good quality two lane gravel road. Those who know the trail bed in Washington on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail will like this better. TrailBear is on a trike where you don't do a single line - you do three - and the trike liked it. That is rare.

One thing you notice. Downhill. It is all downhill. Nice if you have a shuttle waiting. Otherwise, grind up the grade on the return. (TB grinds up the grade.)

The attractions on this bit of trail are the tunnel and the Dominion Creek trestle, which is about 3.5 miles from the trail head.

The tunnel is a short curved one and you can see daylight at the far end. Still, a flashlight would be nice as the trail bed in the tunnel is rather rough. Exit into a large ? parking area ? and the trestle is just beyond.

Here is a curved steel trestle with a new wooden deck instead of the usual concrete pans filled with gravel. Overhead are a few of the old wooden frames that carried overhead electric wires.

Beyond the trestle the trail turns from two lane to one lane with a lot more loose surface rock. Enjoy. TrailBear turns about here to begin the grind uphill.

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