Train Trestle Hiawatha Bike Trail

The Route of the Hiawatha – The Dark, Cold Tunnels

A Moment of Terror on the Route of the Hiawatha – Dark, Cold Tunnels!

Suddenly everything went dark. A sense of unease came over me. It was cold and I could barely see.

I was afraid and wanted to stop but I had to keep moving for fear that someone would run in to me. I was in a tunnel – one of the 10 tunnels on the trail of The Hiawatha – when I remembered that I was wearing sunglasses. ~Marlene


Dark Tunnel. Hiawatha Bike Trail. - RMKK Companion

Marlene in the cold, dark tunnel.

The Creepy St. Paul Paul Pass

I knew that the tunnel would be dark.The brochure had described cycling through a mile of pitch black with only the glow of  LED bike lights to light the way.What the brochure failed to mention was that the tunnel had two-way traffic, was wet, had potholes, and ditches full of water that lined both sides of the dark 8,771-foot long tunnel.


Hiawatha Bike Trail Tunnel Sign - RMKK Companion

Hiawatha Bike Trail Tunnel Sign

Dad had already hit a rut and slipped into a shorter tunnel. He caught himself, but none of us were sure what we would encounter if anyone fell in a ditch.

Water plopped on my head without warning. I felt especially sensitive to subtleties in the environment. As I rode through the tunnel, I noticed every detail.

Small shadows with indefinite shapes skittered along the walls. Perhaps they were of rocks or dense swarms of gnats. Maybe they were tiny gnomes sneaking around the tunnel. Anything could be disguised.

The damp, gray, cement walls fascinated me. Perhaps even a little too much because staring at them could cause an accidental turn into the ditch.

Several times I caught myself from falling in potholes because it was too dark to see anything – even with the bicycle lights.


St. Paul Pass Tunnel. Cold, Dark, Tunnel. Hiawatha Bike Trail - RMKK Companion

This is before entering the tunnel. We didn’t take pictures inside. Notice the trench of water to the right.

I stayed at the back of our group so that I could easily follow their lights which illuminated the path ahead.

The tunnel took 12 minutes to go through and if it had lasted longer, I might have had a panic attack wondering if I would run into another cyclist or if I would run off the side of the road.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

We finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and escaped the cold tunnel into the warm sunshine.


Hiawatha Bike Trail, Idaho - RMKK Companion

The end of the Hiawatha with E and M.

But that wasn’t the last we saw of the St. Paul Pass. After lunch, we rode through again on our way back to the Pearson trailhead.

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