Bikepacking in Idaho

Day 1

A whole lot of planning had gone into this bikepacking trip, which in the end turned out to be only 2 days long. After a long drive, we arrived in Boise on Tuesday night. The weather was stormy and rainy on Wednesday, so I poked around REI and got my bike ready in slow motion. Thursday morning, after a nice breakfast and some last minute preparation, I finally started at 10:30 am. Whoo hoo!
20130620_103921smallThe plan is to head to Shaefer Butte, spend the first night at 6500 ft at the campground there, and then ride to Sunset mountain on some mototrails, before heading down and spending the night at the Bad Bear campground north of Idaho City. This all is would be 90 miles and 15k ft.

The uphill ride began on Bogus Basin Rd. with an interesting sign at the bottom.
After a couple miles, I took the turn-off for Corrals trail and headed over to Dry Creek trail where I met the first of many cows on that trail.

20130620_120310smallDry Creek trail is an oasis in the deserty landscape. I passed by an old homestead, crossed the stream several times and generally felt amazed by the scenery. Under a big shady tree, I pulled out a loaf of garlic bread and had lunch.

Up higher, Dry Creek trail became wetter and wetter. Some skinnies are installed for the brave, but staying out of trouble was my goal for today. Though, I did manage to slip on a steep uphill root and rather disgracefully fell over while still clipped in. A bit of blood and a bruised butt; a reminder that attempting to pull the rear wheel up over a root is a bad idea with a loaded bike.


I left Dry Creek trail about half-ways up and headed over to the Bogus Basin Rd and descended 1 mile. The plan was to take a trail into the Bogus Basin. 20130620_134257small

However, the trail leading to Bogus Basin turned out to be bogus. There was nothing at the supposed trailhead other than a hilly meadow, so there was nothing left but to take the Bogus Basin road towards Shaefer Butte, bypassing some supposedly great trails. I was quite disappointed, as I had linked together quite a few trails there using the Idaho Park & Recreation mapping tool. At some point near the Nordic ski lodge, I jumped back on some trail and then rode on a dirt road. I was getting a bit low on water, but the vague smell of sewage kept me from dipping my camelbak in the creek. Good thing, too, as I soon spotted this sign!
The ride around Shaefer Butte and towards Shaefer Butte campground went much faster than I had anticipated. By 5 pm, I was at my supposed night-1 campground.
Not much to do there, so I decided to ride up to Mores Mountain.
The ride down from Mores Mountain was just perfect. Singletrack, switchbacks, and then a fairly long section along the side of the mountain on the Mores Mountain bike trail.
Boise Ridge Rd. was truly a fun dirtroad. I met one guy on an off-road touring motorbike, otherwise enjoyed stellar views and stopped way too often to take pictures.
The sun was getting low and a field of flowers was practically sparkling.
Riding down the Boise Ridge road, I suddenly passed by a couple people with big cameras pointed at the side of the road. Screeching to a stop, I pedaled back up and found out that they are taking pictures of one of 257 varieties of Penstemon. Andi Wolf and graduate student Paul Blischak were kind enough to pose for a picture.
I also found out that they are there for a Penstemon convention, how interesting! I then continued my rapid decent into the Boise Basin.20130620_195935small
Around 9 pm, I called it a day and pulled off into the forest and set up camp. A Mountain House dinner went down easily, my Marmot Helium 15F bag keept me a bit too warm, and the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 keept the bugs out – of which there were hardly any to mention.
Stats: 55 miles, 8500 ft., 10:30 hours. GPX track.
Picture 492

Day 2
It’s almost a full Moon, and with a helicopter, an emergency vehicle and some random odd noises throughout the night, I didn’t fall asleep until early morning. Nevertheless, my body felt reasonably well rested in the morning. I started the day slowly, walked quite a bit to warm up gently. The Centerville Rd. is dirt and occasionally a pickup truck came by to kick up some dust.
The first thing I encountered in Idaho City was the old SluiceBox antique shop. 20130621_095951small
I stopped at the gas station for almost an hour, and consumed a jar of applesauce and a Don Miguel’s breakfast burrito, a bikepacking classic.
With wonderful sunshine and coolish breeze, I set out for today’s helping of motocross trails. The beginning of Hoodoo Creek trail is awfully steep and loose, but ends quickly and is then replaced with level and smooth single(horse)-track.
After a bit of forest service road, the Hoodoo Creek trail picks up and the sufferfest began. Pictures always make things look flat and reasonable, but this was steep, loose, and unreasonable.
I pushed a lot, and vowed to not ride motocross trails anymore due to 1) their hideous elevation profile, 2) loose and rocky trail conditions, and 3) ridiculously steep slopes. After finishing the 6.5 miles of Hoodoo Creek trail in 2:40 hours, I was thoroughly annoyed. I tried to figure out alternative routes to the campground for tonight, but didn’t see anything other than backtracking which I was not willing to do. Instead, I bypassed a bit of the Rabbit Creek trail via a FS road, only to run into a dead end and then having to invent a new maneuver to ratchet myself+bike up the slope to rejoin the trail. Rabbit Creek trail was again steep, loose, and occasionally ridiculously so. Sometimes, I took 1 or 2 breaks on a 50 ft. climb, my heart rate surprisingly never going above 160. I was making very slow progress.
But, it was also really beautiful up on the ridge, and I had plenty of time to heave my bike and myself along the ridge.
A motocross guy came downhill and stops.
“Wow, you are tough!”
“No, stupid is what I am.”
We exchanged a few more words, then I wished him well and push on – upwards.
After many false summits, I finally saw some kind of station / house on a distant hill. This must be the top, finally! My goal in plain sight, I rode a little faster as the weather was changing towards rain.
At the top of Sunset Mountain, 7800 ft, is the beginning of Hungarian Ridge trail that I had initially planned to ride next. It actually looked in decent shape, not too torn up, but the landscape indicated that there would be many ups & downs, too.
My feet were tired from 5 hours of hiking and I briefly looked around the top where the interesting station turned out to be a private residence! I didn’t get too near, just took a few photos and was on my way down after putting on all my warm clothes for the descent.
A last flower shot of a red Penstemon, of which I had seen only a few thus far.

Stats: 36 miles, 8500 ft., 9 hours. GPX track.
Picture 493

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3 Responses to Bikepacking in Idaho

  1. Erik says:

    What a wonderful resource. Thank you for sharing! I plan on riding the Hungarian Ridge Trail with my mountain bike this summer.

    • 2wheeltrails says:

      From the top, that trail looked like it would certainly bring on some backcountry adventures. Looking forward to reading all about it on your blog – maybe luck will bring me back to pick up where I left off.

  2. Stephen Hill says:

    Thanks for the write-up. I enjoyed reading it.

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