Our family is 10 days into our 90-day Western US VW van trip and we have started our adventuring out strong. After spending time wrapping up loose ends in Canada while relaxing on a friend’s property in Yakh, BC we crossed the U.S. border and left Yahk in our tracks! The wild turkeys were waiting for us as we entered our first US destination, Northern Idaho. Idaho has been epic. Our family had a blast mountain biking, checking out local breweries, swimming in Idaho’s largest waterpark and checking out the historical city of Wallace. Northern Idaho is a perfect destination for biking families, boasting some of the top family biking trails in all of the US.
Explore Northern Idaho – Bikes, Brews and Family Fun
Bike the Hiawatha Trail
A major highlight for our family was biking the 15 mile Hiawatha Trail, one of the most scenic old railroad routes in the US. The beautiful fall flowers scattered the valley on the last day of the season that it was open, making for impressive views the whole way through.
The 10 train tunnels and 7 Train Trestles gave us all lots to look forward to over the 15 mile ride. Our 3 and 5 year olds took turns on a tag along bike, as we were unsure if our 3 year old could handle the distance. Listening to her yell “This is the best !” the whole time she was on the tag-along pedaling away made me wonder if she could have rode the whole way. With the gentle downhill grade along the entire trail, our 5 year old could have maybe even completed the trail on her own bike! I guess we will have to come back another time! Learn more about Riding the Hiawatha Trail here.
Things to know
The Hiawatha Trail , is open from May 26th-September 23rd. It is mostly a gentle downhill grade making it easier to pull a child in a chariot or for young bike riders to test their stamina on a longer trail.
Bike lights (for tunnels) and helmets are mandatory on the trail. Also bring a jacket, as the tunnels get chilly, especially when cruising through the lengthy 1.66 mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel.
Pre-purchase trail passes, shuttle passes, rentals and lunch at the Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area which is 18 minutes from the Hiawatha Trail. Rental bikes include a helmet and a bike light. Tag along bikes and trailers are also available to rent. Reservations are recommended.
At the end, avoid biking back up to the car by taking the shuttle. You may have to wait for a few buses before boarding as the lines to ride the shuttle back can be long.
Grab a lunch to go at The Lookout which is where you pick up your trail passes or pack a lunch and snacks for the trail.
Downhill Mountain Biking at Silver Mountain
Our day downhill mountain biking at Silver Mountain was absolutely thrilling for my husband and me. We both had never experience the rush of downhill mountain biking, and the green trails above Chair 3 at Silver Mountain had us hooked. Read about my adventure in the post New Adventures Post-Partum.
The day was also so much fun for our two daughters. While my husband and I switched off mountain biking, our daughters played on the mountain top bouncy castle, the playground and even went on a nature hike. Learn more about downhill mountain biking at Silver Mountain here.
Noah’s Restaurant at the base of the gondola is a great place for winding down and having dinner at the end of a bike session. They have a large menu and a tasty selection of tacos. We enjoyed sitting outside so that the kids could play on the surrounding rocks and the bean bag toss while we enjoyed some adult conversations.
Radio Brewing, named after the golden age of radio, is a local Brewery in the town of Kellogg. The charming brewery boasts an impressive line-up of beers named after old radio stations. They also have a solid selection of delicious food options, live music and it is kid-friendly.
Ride North America’s Longest Gondola
Not into biking? No problem. Our two kids had a blast riding North America’s Longest Gondola. The scenic ride is a 3.1 mile journey from Kellogg to the Mountain House. I recommend bringing a snack for the ride! Our kids loved soaking up the scenery while playing on the playground at the top. When we went up there was also a bouncy castle that our children were able to use for free.
After enjoying the play structure, the East Ridge Nature trail was the perfect hike for little feet. Enjoy doing the full 3 mile distance or simply spend time exploring the trail at your child’s pace. Interpretive signs along the way provide great motivation! Learn more about riding North America’s longest gondola here.
Enjoy fast foods at the Mountain House Grill at the top of the Gondola.
Swim at Idaho’s Largest Indoor Waterpark
Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark is Idaho’s largest indoor waterpark and there is something for everyone to enjoy. It was definitely a treat for our two littles as they flew down two larger waterslides in the Water Mine area all by themselves. As a family we enjoyed riding on the Family Raft Ride that travels fast through a dark tunnel. It was exhilarating (and maybe a little scary!) but our kids loved it. I did make sure to laugh and yell “woop” a lot to curb any worries that our kids had while going down the first time. We also spent a ton of time going around the North Fork Lazy River and in the Warm Spring.
Other attractions include two waterslides, Gold Rush and Prospector Plunge, for kids over 48 inches. The Flow Rider is a large wave to practice surfing waves (to try standing up you must sign a waiver at the entrance). The Hoop Lagoon and The Crossing are other great places for older kids to play. The Pollywog pond has a small slide and bungee swing for babies. Learn more about the Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark here.
Important to Note
Food is not allowed in the waterpark but there is food and beverages at the Trestles and the Surfside Saloon.
Explore the Historic Town of Wallace
With a population of only 759, the small Town of Wallace packs in a ton of history and great tourist activities for families. Our 3 and 5 year old really enjoyed the Sierra Silver Mine Tour. The 1 hour 15 minute tour involved an exciting trolley ride up and down from the old mine. During the trolley ride, we learned some fun facts about the History of the Town of Wallace.
The trolley dropped us off where we met a retired miner who guided us through a real silver mine. The tour involved live demonstrations of various mining equipment and some entertaining jokes. While our 5 year old had no trouble being engaged, our 3 year old needed the occasional handful of Fishies. Learn more about the Sierra Silver Mine Tour here.
After the tour consider checking out the Wallace District Mining Museum to learn a little bit more about mining through their exhibit. Our kids enjoyed doing the scavenger hunt provided by the front desk at the museum. As you walk to the Mining Museum make sure you check out the Centre of the Universe in the centre of downtown Wallace.
If time permits then hike the 4 mile round trip Pulaski Trail to learn about the 1910 fires that destroyed 3 million acres of Idaho, Montana and Washington. The Polaski trail will take you on the same journey to the tunnel where Ed Polaski saved 48 men from the fire. Learn more about the trail here.
At the end day, if you still have energy, then walk up the steps on the edge of the downtown. The steps demonstrate the longer distance the lower mining class had to walk home from work compared to the upper class. We met some kind locals along the way.
The 1313 Club carries all the local brews on tap and features local food from around the area.
Where to Stay in Northern Idaho
Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg has various room options from a studio to one bedroom. The resort is walking distance from North America’s Longest Gondola, epic mountain bike trails and ski and snowboard trails in the winter. Around the resort there are plenty of family friendly activities to keep you busy (tennis courts, outdoor games, etc.). Included in your stay is use of the Silver Rapid’s Indoor Waterpark. Rates start at $150.00 USD.
Siri Christina Air BnB in Wallace, Idaho is a family friendly Air BnB that provides daily breakfast for the family. Staying in this beautiful character home, you will have an authentic Wallace experience, while being within walking distance of downtown and a 20 min drive from the Hiawatha Bike Trail. The hosts are wonderful people who are passionate about sharing Wallace with visitors. Their Egypt room is large with a pull out couch, king bed, TV and an ensuite bathroom with a large shower. Rates start at $83.00 USD.
Where have you explored in Northern Idaho?!
Full Disclosure: Our family is showcasing the beauty of Idaho in partnership with Ski Idaho. All opinions are 100% our own.