Idaho and Montana Adventures
Sometimes I think the best photos result from surprise, spur of the moment shots. Our first day up in Idaho, we rode the Lake Creek Trail out of Copper Basin. This trail is about 45 minutes outside of Ketchum, ID on mostly gravel roads. Given it was the July 4th weekend, we decided being further away from town would allow us to find a campsite much easier. The trail itself was very close to being a great trail. The biggest problem was that there were two trails right next to each other… yup, it was an ATV double track. Besides that it was a 12 mile out and back, with a nice loop around a series of lakes. The trail ranged from smooth cruiser riding to technical climbing up steep trails. Although the riding was fun, I could help think about the overcast skies that were slowly chopping their way through my hope of getting a great sunset shot.
After the ride, the optimist in me found us one of the most beautiful campsites that I’ve seen in years. We were parked at the edge of a beautiful field of wild flowers, a flowing stream 20 yards away, and beautiful snow capped mountains to the west. Although I had not intention of getting any good shots, I set up the camera, and waited (both for the shot and for dinner). Well, it was worth it. Both the sunset and the sunrise shots turned out great.
Well, with the good comes the bad. The next day we drove into town, had a nice breakfast, and asked the local bike shop about rides. The Adam’s Gulch Trail was highly recommended as one of their better rides. This ride forms about a 15mile loop (different than Adam’s Gulch Loop) that is definitely challenging. The ride was a great, challenging downhill. The problem was getting there. Turns out you end up doing 45+ minutes of hike-a-bike. Now maybe I’m spoiled by the Salt Lake City trails, but in my book, no ride that requires 45 minutes of hike-a-bike should be highly recommended. Needless to say, it did result in a few nice photos. Sarah was a sport for dealing with the hike-a-bike and me :-). One thing I found really amazing was riding through the burned out areas. It was like being in a whole new world just seconds from tree and flower filled meadows.
So after a long long ride, what do you think the last thing you want to do is…. come on guess. How does fixing a flat on your car at 6pm in a small town in Central Idaho sound? Well that’s what happened. Luckily this story just ends in getting it fixed, getting some beer and heading the the hot springs (yeah.. not so hot actually). We were extremely lucky to find a shop that happened to be doing some after hours work and picked up the phone. There is definitely something to be said for supporting your local shop rather than the national chains!
After a tough 2nd day of riding, we decided to go with a shorter and guaranteed to be moderate ride. The Chocolate Gulch to Fox Creek Loop is a great ride. It was only about 9 miles, and had some great single track that was mostly moderate climbs and fast descents. This is a trail for most skill levels. There may be a few technical sections that will catch some off guard, but most of it was beautiful scenery and fun riding. Here’s a few shots to prove it too.
So we had one last day to ride in Central Idaho, and a few friends and locals had recommended a trail called Fisher Creek. This was definitely the best ride of our trip. But before I get to the ride, I have to talk about where we stayed the night before. Fisher Creek is actually in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, so we stayed on Red Fish Lake inside the park. Although we actually had to pay for camping, it was worth it. The setting could not have been more beautiful. A huge lake right at the base of jagged mountain peaks. I would say more, but I think the pictures do a better job.
So anyway, back to the ride. The only way Fisher Creek could have been any better is if the whole 18 miles was single track. The first 8 miles or so was on pavement and a jeep road to get to the top of the single track. Needless to say it was worth it. Lots of down hill and rolling cross country riding over 10 miles through meadows, burnt areas, and deep thick forests. And this was a fast downhill because it was mostly smooth, with very few rocky sections. If you’re in Idaho to mountain bike, you have to do this trail.
So after 4 straight days of riding, we were definitely ready for a rest…or so we thought. We couldn’t leave the Sawtooths with out doing any hiking, so after a quick lunch, we headed up the 7 mile round trip hike to Bridal Veil Falls (doesn’t it seem like every state has a Bridal Veil Falls?). Although the hike was beautiful, the fall themselves are not that interesting (apparently unless you get closer). They’re difficult to see, and they’re pretty far away. But, about half way up is Lady Face Falls. Although not as larger, these falls are hidden deep in a canyon, that really requires some scrambling to get the best views. Here are a few shots from that hike.
So we were finally ready to head out of Idaho and into Montana. In Montana, we actually met up with my family to enjoy a few days in the Big Sky area. You’ll soon be able to tell that I decided to mostly put down the camera and hang out with my family. We had a great time hiking, rafting, horseback riding and of course, mountain biking. So what I’d like to share about the riding around Big Sky is that its good, but not as good as Idaho or Utah. The primary reason is that the season is short, there are less riders, and most trails are shared with horses. The short season meant some of the recommended rides still had snow. The low number of riders meant the trails were not always nicely worn in. The horses mean that the trails are very rough and typically in a groove about 6 inches deep. This made some of the slower climbs pretty tough as you’d hit the side walls of the single track. I can recommend a few rides though. If you’re in the Big Sky area, do the Grizzly Loop and the North Fork Loop. Both of these are really good rides.
So that’s the trip. We did 100 miles over 6 days of riding. Who knows how many vertical feet. I hope you enjoyed the photos and some of the stories. If you’re heading in the direction, please feel free to send me an email and I’ll give you some tips about the area. I definitely look forward to heading back up to Idaho to ride.
Oh, and the dog ran every mile with us as well. He was happy!