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The Tour of Idaho

Everyone is free to use the route information provided below in any manner they please. You are welcome to it. Go out there, ride and have fun. But to participate in the event known as the Tour of Idaho one must accept a few challenges.

The route the Tour follows has been ridden many times. Most of the trails are of no more than intermediate difficulty (our kids ride almost all of them with us) and though they are a blast to experience the mere act of stringing them all together is not exactly an accomplishment of boundless magnitude.  Fun? Absolutely. Special? Not in a spectacular sense. The Tour of Idaho, however, is quite different. In 11 years there have been only 46 riders to finish the Tour of Idaho. Less than one in ten succeeds. It's an undertaking that requires an uncommon set of skills. It's akin to the difference between riding Baja as a participant in the 1000 or as a tourist. They are two completely different experiences.

Tour of Idaho aspirants are expected to attempt the route in small groups (no more than three) without
any support (no friends, family members, significant others or erstwhile Tour riding partners anywhere close to the route, no help with navigation or anything else except what you find along the way). Tour riders have nine trail days to finish but are allowed (and very strongly advised) to take a day off in Pocatello. No other off days are allowed.
The "no support" part of this is a core principle of the Tour. You are not permitted to ship anything to a location along the route or prearrange fuel drops. You must either carry everything you intend to use with you or purchase it along the way. Yes, you read that right - no help and no supply drops. Despite what your owner's manual says you can get all the way through the Tour without an oil change and without an air filter change (if you use filter skins).

Tour aspirants are expected to ride all of the trails along the route and to provide beacon links for live tracking. When a selfie is requested in the route description please post it to our 2017 Facebook group and on social media in general with the hashtag #TourofIdaho.

Most days have an optional challenge section. Soloists are not required to complete any of the challenge sections. Groups must complete a number of challenge sections equal to the number of riders in the group (up to three - the largest group size allowed). Some of the challenge sections are long, some are technically challenging, some are difficult to navigate and some are all of the above. Once you choose to begin a challenge section you must either complete it or turn around, back track to the original route and continue from there. No bailing out in the middle of a challenge section unless along a route designated for that purpose.  Those planning an early Tour (end of July) will spend a lot of time sawing trails or log hopping to accomplish this.

Any significant deviation from the published Tour route or the practices outlined above is considered a DNF (soloists have a bit more leeway than teams but not much). Tour riders must join the Facebook group, the Facebook Riders group, consent to beacon tracking (the Garmin/DeLorme InReach SE is highly recommended) and must submit their complete track log for inspection upon finishing the route.

Under no circumstances should any Tour rider use a trail that is marked closed. If a trail is closed (for fire, erosion or any other reason) it is not required to complete the Tour. The only expectation is that you rejoin the Tour route as soon as possible and do not use a detour to gain an advantage that would not be possible on the normal route. We grant exceptions to the "ride 'em all" rule for fires. In some seasons large sections of the Tour are unfortunately closed due to fire. In that event it's just not possible to finish. Riding a closed trail, for any reason, is a very likely DNF.

The 2017, 12th edition of the Tour, like the 2016 version, will have no challenge points to be acquired or jersey numbers to be awarded. Jersey numbers are reserved for those who completed the route in the first decade when the Tour was still largely unknown and unexplored (though we reserve the right to grant occasional exceptions to this policy).

As you can see the Tour is a whole lot of work for little more than a bunch of folks monitoring your progress on their laptops and smart phones cheering you on. The effort to reward ratio is almost completely upside down. You will suffer greatly for almost no glory and very little tangible reward. The Tour is as much a journey through one's own soul as anything else. It's less a motorcycle ride than a bodacious outdoor adventure that happens to take place on a motorcycle. If you are just looking to check off another motorcycle ride you'd be way better off riding the route on your own terms or doing a BDR - where the odds of success are much higher and Interwebs bragging rights far easier to obtain (no slight intended, both options rock).

But, if after pondering all of this, doing something much bigger than you just for the hell of it still seems like a good idea, read on.

Chinese Peak
Moonrise and Sunset at Chinese Peak

Feel free to check out the Facebook group for up to date information. The group is open so anyone may explore the content without being a member. You should request to become a member only if you are serious about attempting the Tour during 2017 (you must read the group description before asking to be admitted and there is some light screening). You may also find our forum, FAQ and home page to be useful resources.

Now down to brass tacks. There are three things that you'll need in order to maximize your educational experience here. 1) The patience and ability to read for comprehension. 2) The capacity to fully grasp navigation. 3) The skill to read a map and route book.

The 2016 route maps are available at Butler Maps as part of a kit that contains maps and a route book. The 2017 route is better than 90% the same as the 2016 route so these maps and route book are still good and a very worthy investment. I've created updated maps that show significant changes to D2, D3, D5 and D6The route files for 2017 no longer consist of a trail of waypoint bread crumbs, so the ability to use a map and compass to navigate between points will be required. There were just too many folks starting to show up who had almost no ability to navigate in the wilds beyond following a line on their iPhones and this proved to be the cause of endless difficulty. Weeks of map study and navigational preparation are advised for the Tour and our new files are designed to encourage you to do just that. The best way to prepare is to reconcile the maps and route book you should acquire from Butler with our gpx route files and notes. If you take the time to do this I can almost guarantee that you will have little difficulty navigating the actual route when you get there. I also highly recommend importing the files into Google Earth and following the entire route.

For Trail Tech Voyager users here is your entire route. If you are not a TT Voyager owner you should strongly consider becoming one.

For all other GPS units here are the 2017 gpx files (right click and save): D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9. Please read this before you email us about GPS files.

The longest gas-less distance for 2017 will be about 230 miles - very manageable on most large desert tanks along with a Giant Loop fuel bladder or two.

We have an extensive collection of Tour of Idaho videos on our YouTube page. The Idaho SNOTEL page provides valuable information about the nature of snow levels on many passes along the Tour. Both ARCGIS and the Idaho Parks and Recreation OHV website have interactive maps with very high resolution views of the trails for the entire Tour. These maps are an invaluable resource for road/trail numbers, opening and closing dates - there's even an Inciweb layer available. For fire information check out the Idaho Inciweb page. The Idaho Digital Atlas contains a wealth of useful information about the Tour route. We also highly recommend the Roadside Geology of Idaho, an indispensable pre-ride winter read. 
Don't mess around. We recommend KLIM gear, the best there is, for the Tour of Idaho. KLIM RMATVMC Jimmy Lewis Off Road
Butler Maps
Jimmy Lewis does the Tour of Idaho

A trail is much more than a line on a map - it's the sum of of the efforts of all who worked to make it a reality. We owe a great debt of gratitude to several individuals who helped us wrestle this epic off of our laptops and into the great outdoors.

Tracy J. Gravelle, the trails coordinator for the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest,  spent hours with us on the phone and in exchanges of email planning the route through the St. Joe. Stacy Baker and Dusty Baker of the Challis District provided much useful assistance. The Challis district, btw, has the best trail crew in the state.

Members of the Elk City Dust Devils ATV club are among the most helpful and gracious off-roaders it's been our pleasure to meet. They provided invaluable assistance in helping us with the area from the Magruder Road to Lowell.

Many thanks to Donn Dennis who provided information on northern Idaho.

A huge thanks to Bill Dart, whose excellent maps of the central part of the state make planning in that area much easier.

Thanks to our friends at Pocatello Power Sports for keeping us in bikes, tires and accessories.

Note: Many of the small towns along the Tour route have at least one establishment with free WiFi. A WiFi enabled cell phone will generally be the only inexpensive way of checking in with family and friends at the end of each day.

The following description breaks the Tour into nine segments. Based on our experience, competent, well-equipped parties traveling at reasonable speeds will have little trouble knocking off the entire Tour in nine trail days. The advantages of the suggested schedule are that accommodations are not generally a problem and the riding difficulties are distributed so that one day is not significantly more difficult than the next. The intervals are as follows: D1 - Utah to Pocatello, D2 - Pocatello to Arco, D3 - Arco to Smiley Creek, D4 - Smiley Creek to Challis, D5 - Challis to North Fork, D6 - North Fork to Lowell, D7 - Lowell to Powell Ranger Station, D8 - Powell Ranger Station to Wallace, D9 - Wallace to Sundance Mountain.

A stopover day in Pocatello (the biggest town along the route) right after the first day on the trail is highly recommended. Pocatello is the largest city along the route and the best place to sort out bike or equipment issues that you may have discovered on D1. It also makes it easy to get the pre-dawn start that's a really good idea for D2.

Please bear in mind that though we have covered every inch of the recommended route and believe our descriptions to be accurate, conditions can change, in some instances very rapidly, due to weather, fire, human activities, road closures, etc. Last year a group got lost and abandoned the Tour because of a new trailhead parking lot.  The route description and GPS files provided here are no substitute for the ability to pull out a map and figure things out when you discover that you're not in Kansas any more. Those attempting to substitute a GPS unit for route finding and the ability to read a map will doubtless spend a lot of time lost.  

The Tour of Idaho is not a casual undertaking. Completing the Tour requires reasonably high degrees of riding skill, outdoor acumen, physical conditioning, route finding ability, mechanical skill, knowledge of emergency first aid and a healthy dollop of good luck. The information on this website is not meant as a substitute for any of the above. A trail that we describe as flat and fast, for instance, may change overnight as the result of a storm. You ride the Tour at your own risk. Any attempt to replace "eyes on the spot" judgment with something you read here may well result in calamity.  You may want to check out the FAQ for answers to specific questions we've gotten (or wish we had).

Please note that all estimates for time on the trail do not factor in the additional time required for extensive sawing or completing the more difficult challenge sections.

In order to assist in assessing what you are riding into from day to day the "Touracles" (a group of Tour vets) have produced a series of trail ratings for the ATV and single track trails on the Tour. Please note that these are based on nominal conditions (all it takes is one storm to change that). All ratings assume a solo rider with no support on a loaded Tour bike riding the trail for the first time. Remoteness, fatigue and technicality are all taken into account. The scale is from 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult) and the ratings are normalized to Tour of Idaho trails. 

The technical ratings are augmented with a scale borrowed from the MPAA we've pressed into use to indicate mental stressors such as exposure, creek crossings and anything else that could ruin a Tour for the unlucky or unwary. No suffix indicates a trail that should be no problem for any competent solo rider of intermediate ability on a loaded Tour bike. A suffix of "PG" indicates slightly elevated risk. A suffix of "R" means that one should make doubly sure that their beacon is working. A suffix of "X" means that someone needs to radio ahead to the tower and have them foam a runway.

Finally we have attempted to quantify the quality of each trail. This, of course, is highly subjective and it is what it is. An asterisk (*) indicates a trail of above average quality. Two asterisks (**) indicates a trail of that is virtually overflowing with redeeming social value. Three asterisks indicates a veritable cornucopia of the most noble characteristics to which any trail may aspire.

Malad City

This year the Malad City Chamber of Commerce has arranged free parking in Malad, just a few miles north of the Utah border, for Tour of Idaho riders. Here is a kmz file that you may open in Google Earth that shows where the parking is, and here is what it looks like from the street. Just leave a note in the windshield of your rig that you are riding the Tour of Idaho (it might not hurt to check in with the local police either). The recommended accommodation in Malad City is the Hotel Malad, which is just a short jog from the parking area. Hess Lumber and Evans Co-op can take care of your last minute hardware and sporting goods needs.

D1 - Utah to Pocatello

D1 Profile

Jenkins Hollow ST 1
Old Baldy Connector ATV 2
Old Baldy-Weston Peak, PG ** ST 3-
Ruben Hollow ST 1+
Ruben Hollow to Davis Basin ATV 1
Oxford Ridge * ATV 2
Aspen Hollow ATV 1
Sedgwick Peak ATV 2
South Boundary Trail ATV 2
Robber's Roost (W to E) * ST 4-
North Boundary Trail ATV 2-
CS Boundary Trail ATV 1
CS Reed Canyon ST 5-
CS Girl Scout Camp ST 3+
CS Robber's Roost (E to W) ST 4
CS Boundary Trail ATV 2-
Inman Pass ATV 2
South Fork Inman Creek *** ST 1+
Blackrock Canyon ATV 2-
Chinese Peak * ATV 1

Mile Marker 1 (Dan Colvin)
Utah/Idaho Border
Please note: you must complete D1 before midnight on the day you set out. If you get to Pocatello after midnight it's considered a DNF. This is for your safety. If you get any reasonable start (before 9 a.m.) you should easily be in Pocatello before dark. If not the great wheel in the sky is trying to tell you something - and you should listen.

Day one, though the shortest in terms of miles, yields long stretches of technical riding. Roughly half of the route consists of rugged single track or ATV trail and the total elevation gain is nearly 30,000 feet! There are several impressively long and steep climbs. Most will find this to be a full day,10 hours or so being a good time. Gas, food and water are not a problem with the longest distance between services being about 50 miles. If you cannot do D1 in less than 14 hours (in reasonable conditions) you will find the days following to be very long and challenging. 

The traditional Tour start in Black Canyon has been changed. This year we are using a new start near I-15 Idaho exit #3 (Woodruff Road). This is an easy ride from any motel in Malad. From Malad take Old Highway 191 south some 10 miles to Woodruff Road. Turn left and head east over the freeway then right (south) another mile to the trail head at the mouth of Burnett Canyon. Head three miles east up Burnett Canyon to a ridge. Turn right (south) and head downhill a mile or so to the Idaho-Utah border (pictured left). This is the official start of the Tour.  

Head north six miles along a series of roads and ATV trails (70055 and 7488) to Dry Creek Campground.  Follow the dirt road east out of Dry Creek (71224 then 70053) to ID 36, some 5 miles from the campground. Cross the highway and follow the road about 1/2 of a mile to an intersection. Turn north (left) and proceed 2.75 miles long a series of roads (King Road, 70242)  to trail 7452. This trail is marked as non-motorized on some maps, but is, in fact, a dirt road. Follow 7452 uphill (video) to 7451 (ATV) which leads to single track trail 7437. Follow this steep and spectacular trail some 4 miles up and over Old Baldy (8356'), then Weston Peak (8165').

On the north side of Weston Peak, look for an intersection with 7443 and continue north Note: if this trail is temporarily closed you may take trail 7444 down to Clifton Basin and rejoin the route near Buck Peak another few miles to Ruben Hollow (video). Take trail 7441 east (right) a few miles to Buck Peak. Here the trail turns north and descends about a mile into Davis Basin. After Davis Basin the trail ascends the steep spine of Oxford Ridge gaining about 2000'.  

After a couple of miles the ridge levels off and heads northwest toward the summit of Oxford Peak. After about a mile along the ridge crest the Tour route leaves the ridge going east near Pine Corral Spring (just before the next steep climb) and descends an ATV trail (7419) steeply into Oxford Basin. The detour from the ridge is not obvious and a look at the GPS waypoints (video) will prove extremely useful.
Weston Peak
Weston Peak
After a long descent to a small lake the trail climbs out of Oxford basin. A series of short climbs leads to a dirt road that goes east (right). Go left after 1/4 of a mile and head steeply uphill to a series of ATV trails (7419) leading some 4 miles to Aspen Hollow. Descend to the northeast down Aspen Hollow (7416, 70050) to a farm road (Cedar Knoll Road) that rolls straight down into Marsh Valley. Follow this road about 4 miles to an intersection with Back Downata Road and turn right. Follow Back Downata Road east a few miles past Downata Hot Springs to US 91. Though it shouldn't be an issue at this point, gas is available a few miles north on Highway 91 in Downey or south at Swan Lake. Downata Hot Springs is a nice place to stop for a few minutes to cool off with a drink and a snack.

After crossing US 91 the Tour jogs south about a mile to Calvin Road (Red Rocks Back) on the east (left), east along Pratt Road to Cottonwood Valley. The route then follows a series of logging roads and ATV trails (video) that ascend to the summit of Sedgwick Peak (9167'). A series of roads follows the crest of the Portneuf Range northwest from Sedgwick Peak some 10 miles, eventually descending to Lava Hot Springs - a resort community that is an excellent place to stop for food and gas before the afternoon trek to Pocatello. We recommend the Sunnyside Store/Sinclair station, on the way out of town for a quick lunch and fuel stop.

About a mile west of Lava on US 30, turn north (right) on Sunnyside Road (70030). Head north 3 miles up Beach Hollow (watch for a jog to the right near a house and a "dead end road" sign) to an intersection with the Boundary Trail (7272). Here the Tour route splits. The regular Tour route continues west and north along the Boundary Trail some 6 miles to Robbers Roost Trail (7253). Robbers Roost is equal parts steep and spectacular (video) and crosses the Portneuf Range crest just north of Haystack Mountain (9033') before taking the rider steeply downhill to Big Springs Campground back on the eastern side of the range. From here follow the Boundary trail north about 4 miles again to the Portneuf Range crest. This time at Inkom Pass (7232').

The D1 challenge section follows the Boundary Trail (7272) east and north from Beach Hollow for several miles to Reed Canyon (7277), then up Reed to Girl Scout Camp Trail (7274, road 70022), back to the Boundary Trail a few miles south of Big Springs Campground. The challenge section then takes Robbers Roost Trail (7253) from east to west (reverse of the regular route) to the Boundary Trail and follows the Boundary trail north a few miles to Inkom Pass. It's permissible to bail out at the top of Reed Canyon and ride down Bob Smith Canyon to reconnect with the regular route. Why you should ride this. If you can get through without too much trouble the rest of the Tour will be a breeze. Why you should not. It's long and one of the more difficult challenges and has ended many aspiring rider's hopes of completing the Tour less than a hundred miles in. There's plenty more where that came from.
Oxford Ridge
Oxford Ridge

Tour of Idaho Mailbox
Tour of Idaho Flagpole/Register
From Inkom Pass follow trail (7243) from the pass first uphill and north then downhill and east to the South Fork of Inman Creek (video). Follow the South Fork Inman Creek single track (7240) north several miles (one of the most enjoyable trails of the entire Tour) to Inman Canyon Road. At the intersection with Inman Canyon Road head west (left) and descend several miles to an intersection with Rapid Creek Road.

From the intersection of Inman Canyon and Rapid Creek travel west into the small town of Inkom. Inkom is a good place for gas and a cool drink, if you choose, before the last sprint to Pocatello. 
Head north out of town and look for the Sorelle Road sign at the I-15 intersection on the north end of town. 

From Inkom head west about 5 miles along US 30 (all pavement, unfortunately) to Blackrock Canyon Road. Turn right and proceed under the freeway and north into Blackrock Canyon.

Head up into Blackrock Canyon for a mile or so past a parking lot on the left to a fork in the road. Take the right fork across the creek and follow the road past the Boy Scout Pavilion. Go another 1/2 mile to an intersection with an ATV trail that heads steeply uphill. Bear left, remaining on a jeep road and locate (almost immediately) another ATV trail in the trees on the right bank of a small creek. Follow this uphill several miles as it leaves the creek and proceeds through a series of switchbacks to a jeep trail on a ridge. Follow this jeep road west for a few miles, eschewing all turns off the main road, to an ATV trail that eventually crops up on the right near a dead end. Follow this enjoyable and scenic ATV trail 3.75 miles west as it winds it's way to the summit of Chinese Peak (video). At several points along this trail you will be able to look back to the south and enjoy an evening vista of your entire day's travels.

The summit of Chinese Peak is a few hundred yards off the Tour route but worth a visit. From the summit of Chinese Peak, the town of Pocatello lies in the valley to the west. Follow the wide, well-traveled gravel road that descends to the west. About three miles from the summit of Chinese Peak you'll encounter the TID flagpole on the left about 100 yards after reaching pavement (below the BLM parking area) at the top of Barton Road. The flagpole is on private property. You are welcome to sign the register but please do not enter the property beyond the flagpole without prior arrangement. The signs warning of an electric fence should be taken seriously. You should also know that the llamas spit and the dogs bite.

Pocatello is the largest town along the Tour route. It's a full-service University community of over 50,000 with numerous motels, hotels, restaurants and shops of all kinds. It is highly recommended that Tour riders avail themselves of the allowed day off in Pocatello to rest, 
sort out bike, equipment or personal issues that inevitably arise during the course of the first day. A day off in Pocatello also allows one to get a highly advised very early start for D2.
Pocatello has a tremendous motorcycle shop, Pocatello Power Sports (Honda/KTM/Suzuki). A good Tour strategy is to "run what you brung" on your Tour bike on D1 then use your day off in Pocatello to have your bike serviced and shod in new tires at PPS. They understand what the Tour is about and all you have to do is call ahead and they can have anything that you need ready. They are great at getting you in and out during your day off. Make sure that you treat them well.

While in Pocatello, we recommend College Market for breakfast, lunch and coffee (they even have a sandwich called the T1), The Sand Trap, Mama Inez or the Sandpiper for lunch and dinner. Best bets for provisions and services are Pocatello Power Sports for motorcycle related needs, Barrie's Ski & Sports for general outdoor equipment and Fred Meyer for food and general supplies. Ethanol-free gas is available at Oak Street Sinclair (premium Ethanol-free is available at any local Sinclair). The local Red Wing Shoe store offers a free while-you-wait foot and boot inspection (custom insoles are pretty sweet) and boot cleaning for any Tour of Idaho rider who stops in. Jason Smoot has a variety of accoutrements for the feet that you ought to think about (1400 miles is a long way to stand on your pegs). Please snap a selfie with the folks at any of these establishments that support the Tour and post on our Facebook page.
Inkom Pass
Inkom Pass

While in Pocatello, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.
Pocatello Power Sports Sand Trap Red Wing

D2 - Pocatello to Arco (260 miles)

D2 Profile

Slate Mountain, PG *** ST 2
Lead Draw ST 1
Crestline Cycle Trail/Scout Mountain, PG * ST 2
CS Bell Marsh ST 2
CS Bell Marsh to Mormon ATV 1
Mormon Canyon, PG ST 2+
Frog Pond/Valve House ATV 1
Racetrack Trail ST 2-
Green Canyon/Sand Hollow ATV 2
Sublett Range ATV 2
American Falls Desert (sand),  PG ST 3

Day two sets out along the world's mellowest motorcycle single track trail just as your coffee is kicking in and the sun is coming up. That last part is important because things get very interesting west of American Falls if you hit the desert sand in the heat of the afternoon on most summer days. Twelve or so hours ought to suffice at any reasonable clip. The longest stretch between fuel stops is 140 miles (between American Falls and Arco).

Begin by heading west out of Pocatello to Gibson Jack Road (70008). At the west end of the parking lot find the ATV trail that crosses a creek and heads uphill (7015) for less than half a mile to an intersection. Go left (downhill) a short distance to trail (7018) which narrows to single track and heads southwest up Dry Creek. Follow this trail some 6 miles as it contours the eastern slopes of Gibson and Slate Mountains (video). Aside from some brief side hill moments of concern this trail is one of the best anywhere. 

Slate Mountain Trail
Slate Mountain Trail

You'll eventually descend to Mink Creek Road. Turn left there, and proceed northeast for about a mile to a well-marked intersection with East Fork (Scout Mountain) road on the right. Follow this east for about half a mile to a parking area on the left. This marks the beginning of the Lead Draw trail (70331, 7109). Follow this east for for a little over a mile (video) and look for an intersection with trail 7133 on the right. Follow this trail south a little over 2 miles to a picnic area/campground.

Proceed south through the picnic area to the Crestline Cycle Trail (7148). The Crestline Cycle Trail winds up wooded slopes to eventually emerge beneath the rugged and spectacular east face of Scout Mountain (video). After about 4 miles from it's start the Crestline Cycle Trail intersects road 70009. From here one turns right (west) and follows the winding road 2 miles to the top of Scout Mountain (8700').

The D2 challenge section begins at the aforementioned intersection. Just before the Crestline Cycle Trail intersects road 70009 one encounters trail 7178 (Bell Marsh) on the left (east). This 11-mile loop winds east down Bell Marsh, south then west along trail 7152 eventually reconnecting with road 70009 (you'll have to backtrack just a bit along 70009 to reconnect with the Tour route).
Why you should ride it. It's far and away the easiest of 'em all. If you got off to an early start and the weather is overcast or cool go for it. Why you should not. Though short, this loop is time-consuming and soaks up a lot of time while not advancing you an inch (you end up back where you started). It is not recommended unless you've managed a very early start out of Pocatello because you do not want to get to the desert section of D2 much after noon.

From the intersection of Crestline Cycle Trail with the road follow 70009 downhill less than a mile to an intersection with East Fork Trail (7186). Turn right (west) and follow this ATV trail about a mile west then north to Frog Pond. From there, proceed north another mile or so (video) to Race Track Trail (7184), a single track trail that veers sharply to the left (west). Follow this for about 3.5 miles west to South Fork Road (70163).  

This initial 20 or so miles of trail on D2 is among the most enjoyable of the entire Tour. But for a few miles of connecting roads and ATV trail it's almost entirely casual single track. The riding is mellow enough that one may enjoy the scenery in a manner that is often not possible elsewhere along the Tour.

Head south (left) on South Fork/Mercer Creek Road for a few miles to an intersection with Garden Creek Road.  Continue south another few miles to an intersection with Rattlesnake Creek Road. Turn right and proceed a few miles west to South Bannock Hwy.

You'll proceed west into Arbon Valley and around Lusk Loop. Cross Arbon Valley Hwy and proceed due west toward the flanks of the Deep Creek Range. The road deteriorates to a jeep trail at a fence crossing at the foot of the range. Proceed generally west up Green Canyon. Near the top of the range the trail comes out of the trees and connects with Dry Hollow Trail (956). Head right (west) over the crest of the range and descend into Portage Canyon toward ID 37 in the Rockland Valley. At the intersection of Portage Canyon Road and ID 37 continue west crossing ID 37 to Kuper Road.

Follow Kuper Road west then south a few miles to Green Canyon Road. Follow Green Canyon Road/NFD 569 southwest a few miles to an intersection with NFD 579. Turn right (west) and follow this road as it descends Sheep Canyon for a few miles to an intersection with NFD 577 on the right. Head steeply uphill on NFD 577 to a pass and descend into Houtz Canyon. Follow NFD 577 down Houtz Canyon about 4.5 miles to an intersection with a road on the left that leads to Dairy Canyon. Follow this road uphill a mile or so to a pass and then descend another 3/4 of a mile into Dairy Canyon.

Follow the road right at the first intersection and left at the second (indistinct) a short distance later. After the second intersection head uphill (west) to a pass just south of Badger Peak (6500'). There is a faint road that leaves the pass west and can be ridden a half mile or so to the top of a knoll.
Slate Mountain
Slate Mountain Trail
Scout Mountain
Crestline Cycle Trail
From the pass descend 1.5 miles to a four-way intersection at the base of the hill. Proceed straight through this intersection and continue north 5 miles along Fall Creek to an intersection with Benson Spring Road. Turn right (continuing on Fall Creek Road) and head steeply uphill then downhill about a 1.5 miles to an intersection with Register Road (paved).

Turn right and head east on Register road to the Register Rock roadside park - a historic point on the Oregon Trail. Head east another couple of miles to Deeg Road on the right. Head east on Deeg Road 3.25 miles to an intersection with Rock Creek Road (paved). Head north 3.5 miles to the I-86 overpass and continue along Eagle Rock Road which runs east along the north side of the Interstate another 3.25 miles to an intersection with South Frontage Road that leads 2 miles into American Falls. The best place for gas and snacks in American Falls before the epic plunge into the desert is the Bingham Coop. Waypoint 2D72 in the middle of the parking lot.

The route out of American Falls proceeds west along ID 39 across the American Falls Dam. Just across the dam turn left (west) onto Lamb Weston Road. Jog around a few corners and turn south (left) on Borah Road a short distance later. Follow Borah Road south and west about a mile to a railroad crossing. From here follow Lake Channel Road 3.75 miles southwest and begin looking for a sandy dirt road on the right. The next 30 miles of deep sandy trail is one of the technical highlights of the Tour (video).

About the desert. Perhaps no where else along the Tour is it as important to stay on the track as it is out in this desert. The consequences of getting lost in the middle of a hot day (or worse at night) are almost too awful to even consider. The trail from Lake Channel Road to Quigley Railroad Crossing, though reasonably well-marked, is at times difficult to follow. When in doubt the route goes in a reasonably straight line between waypoints and when it does not it's obvious what to do. It is important that you stay as close to the track as possible to avoid unpleasant encounters with basalt rock, cactus, nasty whoops, deep holes and other desert treats. On Tour veteran, a professional rider of vast experience, referred to the desert section of the Tour as "a beater." He wasn't making anything up. Personally I love the desert but I also recognize that it has the potential to be grueling and serious if you take it lightly.

Most of the established tracks in the area are overused, whooped-out and nasty. Our track is designed to help you avoid the unpleasantness. In some places you'll be on an established trail but in those places the trail will be OK. If you examine the track carefully from where you first exit Lake Channel Road to to the point you cross it again you'll note that in some places it's way off on it's own and in others it appears to lie a few feet left or right of the main trail. That's because in those places there's a motorcycle singletrack that was put there to avoid the whoops.

The normally fine, extremely dry basaltic sand in this area is the most difficult that some have ever ridden. Where the trails are whooped it's difficult to keep up the speeds required to stay on top of the sand. If you are very, very lucky, you'll get there after a summer thunderstorm and experience nirvana.

It is incredibly important that you scout the rock chute entrance to Lake Channel, to make sure that you are in the right spot, 
before taking the plunge -  as the surrounding cliffs reach heights of nearly 100'. Most attempts to do this after dark count as failed suicides rather than heroic deeds. 

Please note that it is very hot in the desert most of the time during the Tour of Idaho season (July and August anyway). Do not go out into the desert without proper hydration and ventilation. On a hot day the 140 or so miles from American Falls to Arco are very serious (110+ temps). Once you get out of the sand and into the basalt rock (after the first 30 miles) you'll be able to ride fast enough to cool down except for numerous gates that need to be opened and closed. The only real respite from the heat will be the summit of Big Southern Butte many miles to the north. Plan accordingly.

So here you go. To enter the sand, bear off Lake Channel Road at waypoint 2D81 onto a sandy dirt road and follow it about 1/4 of a mile to a faint trail that leads off to the west. Follow this another 1/4 of a mile to a well-defined trail that leads north down a canyon. After another 1/4 of a mile this trail climbs the steep left bank of the narrowing canyon then heads west along a fence line. Climb a sandy hill then follow a faint trail (marked with red ribbon) generally north up past large piles of lava rock to a power line road and a fence crossing. Head through the fence and proceed north for another 1/4 of a mile to a faint single track trail that heads west. Follow this trail, generally west, as it winds through dunes, sandy whoops and lava rock some 7 miles back to Lake Channel Road. There are a myriad of trails criss-crossing this area and you'll end up riding around in very tiring circles without paying close attention to the direction of your next waypoint. At times the trail is tenuous (look for red marking ribbon) but as long as you take your time and keep heading toward the next waypoint you'll be fine. At times the sand is quite deep and the dunes high and steep. Though exciting these trails are well-ridden and mostly avoid serious hazards. Beware of large lava rocks, often hidden in the sand, that you may assume are bolted directly to the center of the earth. You'll need to keep up your speed to climb the omnipresent dunes, but at a level below reckless abandon (video). You are required to upload a selfie to the 2017 FB page at waypoint 2D110. Your smart phone data connection will work there.

Desert dues
American Falls Desert
After crossing Lake Channel road proceed south then west about 1/4 of a mile to a cliff above Lake Channel Bowl. As previously mentioned, it is advised that you get off your bike and scout the entrance to the bowl to make sure that you have the right one (a minimally technical short rock chute). Be aware that the cliffs in this area rise to about 100' above the bowl in some places and that you would be unlikely to enjoy the plummet should you choose your line poorly.

Once into the bowl follow the waypoints half a mile to a climb out of the bowl on the right. Proceed along through a mixture of dunes, rocky roads, sandy roads and sandy trail about 5 miles to an intersection with a trail that heads north. Follow intermittent cow trails north a few miles to the second of two power line roads you'll encounter. Turn right (east) and head back to Lake Channel Road. Once there turn left (north), cross the RR tracks, and immediately locate a gate on the left side of the road. Head through this gate and proceed due north to the obvious large sand dune about 1/4 of a mile away. Head over the dune and follow an enjoyable single track trail north a few miles to Quigley road.  

From here the route skirts the east edge of the Wapi Lava Flow some 35 miles to the Great Rift - an area of lava tubes and deep chasms in the Basalt. Proceed north along Quigley Road some 10 miles north to North Pleasant Valley then along Schultz, Funk Roads and Classen Roads to Water Tank Road. The turnoff north (right) to Classen Road from Funk Road is unmarked but located where Funk Road turns from gravel to dirt. When the fields are planted this may be difficult to find. It is entirely possible to skirt the fields to by continuing another half mile west to Winters Road, then turning right (north) and proceeding another half a mile to an east/west road on the south side of a fence line (Water Tank Road). No matter how you get there follow Water Tank Road east to Flat Top Road (0733). Follow this north about 7.5 miles to Gasten Beattie Well. Continue north along 0733 another 3.5 miles to Mosby Well. Continue north another 25+ miles to Big Southern Butte-Springfield Road. Along this section of the route it is very easy to get confused by a myriad of jeep roads and goat trails. A good practice is to upload the supplied waypoints to Google Earth, getting an idea of what's involved in navigating between them before you are there, and record some notes about it in your route book. A little bit of prep and you'll be just fine.

From the intersection with BSB-Springfield Road turn left (west) and proceed a few miles to Frenchman's Cabin. The 6-mile trek  to the top of the Butte begins here. On a clear day the view from the top (7560') includes a dozen mountain ranges, 1/3 of the Tour, most of T2 and parts of Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho's Snake River Valley from the Tetons all the way to Boise (video).

Big Southern Butte
Big Southern Butte
From Frenchman's Cabin the Tour proceeds west along Quaking Aspen-Frenchman Road some 10 miles around the southern boundary of the Idaho National Laboratory. Head west toward Quaking Aspen Butte and an intersection with the Arco-Minidoka road. Most of this section near the end of D2 is fast and flowing but you will be happy to see the lights of Arco glittering in the gathering darkness off to the north. Head north along the Arco-Minidoka road 14 miles to an intersection with US 20/26/93. Turn north (right) and proceed about a mile into Arco.

Arco is a small community with an excellent motorcycle shop (Lost River Honda), a variety of eateries and several motels. It's a dirt bike friendly town, and anything short of wheelies down main street will probably pass without notice. We recommend the DK motel for accommodations, but every place in town is pretty good to Tour riders. The folks at Lost River Honda have been especially helpful to Tour riders over the years. Treat them well.

While in Arco, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.   DK

D3 - Arco to Smiley Creek (190 miles)

D3 Profile

Mud Lake/Trail Creek ATV 2-
Steward Canyon/Corral Creek ATV 2-
Wildhorse Lookout, PG *** ATV 2+
Burnt Aspen-Kane Canyon *** ST 2-
Warfield-South Fork ST 3
Middle Fork Warm Springs ST 3
Big Peak ST 2
CS Big Peak Creek/Big Smoky Creek, R ST 4
Paradise Creek ST 3
Snowslide, R ** ST 4-
West Fork Big Smoky ST 2
Mule Creek ** ST 1+
Chemeketan ST 1

Little Kane Creek
Burnt Aspen/Kane Creek
Day three is one of the best of the Tour. There is a lot of single track and you'll encounter your first exposure to some serious side hills. Gas should not be an issue. Most will find this to be an easy day. You are beginning the best part of the Tour. Days 3 - 5 are all up there.

The route out of Arco may be found off US 20/26 near the southeast edge of town. Look for the large submarine mast parked on the east side of the highway (I kid you not). Turn east (left) at the sub onto HiWay Drive which parallels US 20/26 southeast for a 0.3 miles to a fork in the road. Take the east (left) fork 1 mile to an intersection with Arco Pass Road on the north (left). After about 7 miles the Arco Pass Road intersects Sheep Camp Road near the base of King Mountain. Head west (left) on Sheep Camp Road, past a large natural arch, then up and over Beverland Pass (7416') and down King Canyon into the Big Lost River Valley.

Head west then south to Moore then continue seven or so miles south along farm roads to Hammond Canyon. Head west about 11 miles to Antelope Valley.

From here the route heads north along the flanks and spine of the White Knob Mountains east of Copper Basin. You'll begin by heading north up Cherry Creek Road several miles to trail 4347. Take this ATV trail several miles north past Round Mountain then east down to Alder Creek.

Please note that the Cherry Creek ATV trail is the first along the Tour to close near the end of the season (on September 7th). After that you'll have to take Antelope Valley Road back toward US 93 and around the foothills to Alder Creek Road.  

Head up Alder Creek Road a few miles to road 40516 on the west (left) which quickly turns into trail 4070 in Stewart Canyon. Those who disdain quad trails as unworthy are in for a surprise. You'll crest 10,000' for the first time on the Tour here on the White Knob Mountain crest at the pass between Stewart Canyon and Corral Canyon.

After the pass you'll descend north then west down Corral Creek a few miles to Burma Road. Take Burma Road south to East Fork Road - the main drag through Copper Basin. Head north then west several miles to trail 4056 that heads up Wildcat Canyon and Wildhorse Lookout (9359') - truly one of the more spectacular spots along the Tour. Again, for those who disdain all quad trails as unworthy, here's part II of your education. A selfie for us all at the top please.

After the descent from Wildhorse LO, turn west (right) and jog down East Fork Road a short distance to Wildhorse Creek on the left. Head south along Wildhorse Creek Road (40136), past the Guard Station, to Burnt Aspen Trail (4055) on the west (right). This trail is among the best of the entire Tour. You will enjoy the increasingly spectacular views as you wind your way up to the divide between Burnt Aspen Creek and Little Kane Creek - and they get even better as you wander down the Kane Creek drainage.

At the bottom of Little Kane Creek you'll encounter a road (40134) that winds its way west around Phi Kappa Mountain to Trail Creek Road (NFS 208). From here the route heads west over Trail Creek Summit. From Trail Creek Summit you'll head southwest some 12 miles to Ketchum/Sun Valley Idaho. - a.k.a. "Glitter Gulch." Bruce Willis lives here. So do Peter Cetera, Steve Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Zuckerberg, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Tony Robbins. Hemingway had a home here as well and that might've had something to do with why he volunteered for an early ride on the great wheel in the sky on July 2, 1961.

I suggest taking the time to park your fanny on a bench in the vicinity of Whiskey Jacques and just take it all in (you are, after all, on a Tour of Idaho). The immortal words of Sophocles, "Oh, God, here comes the dreadful truth," will never ring more true.

Do not let the laid back demeanor of the $300 sandal wearing locals fool you either. Almost everyone staring at you and your bike dislikes you and hates your bike. Honest and no lie
. Shall I fan you gently so you don't go into shock?

Paradise Peak/Snowslide

From Ketchum head west along Warm Springs Road (NFS 227) about 11 miles or so to Warfield-South Fork Trail (7151). Head southwest for a few miles until the trail climbs steeply through a series of switchbacks to an intersection with Red Warrior Trail (7120) on the left. Continue south, then west and finally north to Meadow Creek Trail (7302). In about a mile you'll encounter Warm Springs road. Instead of following Warm Springs to Dollarhide Summit hang a hard left and follow Middle Fork Warm Springs Trail (7150) south then west 4+ miles to Dollarhide Summit Trail (7995). Take this north a couple of miles to Dollarhide Summit. 

From Dollarhide Summit proceed west another 5 miles to an intersection with Trail 016 (Big Peak) on the right. Follow this trail uphill a few miles to an intersection with trail 081 (video). Follow this about 5 miles west to an intersection with Lick Creek Trail (080). The regular route follows 080 west 4 miles to an intersection with NFD 227 and Big Smokey Guard Station just a stone's throw down the road.
A right turn here puts you onto the D3 challenge: Big Peak Creek (076).

Why you should ride it. It's short and scenic. Why you should not. Though barely 5 miles in length to the intersection of Big Smoky Creek (072) you'll need your big-person jammies. In nominal conditions it's an adventure. Beware of numerous creek crossings on Big Smoky (072).

From the southern end of Big Smoky head north about 11 miles along Paradise Creek Trail (070) to Snowslide Lakes. For many this will be a further introduction to "side hills of concern" - a theme that will become much more prevalent in coming days. Continue over the pass and down a couple of miles to the West Fork of Big Smoky (224). Head southeast just a bit over 2 miles and look for an intersection on the left with Mule Creek Trail (198), which is not well-marked. Trail 198 is a riot (video), and will aptly punctuate the end of a great day of riding as you follow it up several miles to the divide between the Smoky Mountains and the Sawtooths and an intersection with Big Smoky Creek Trail (072).

From this intersection head north and follow the trail steeply downhill a few miles to an intersection with NFD 215. The small creek on your left is the origin of the mighty Salmon River.

About 5 miles later you'll encounter ID 75. From here it's a short jaunt north to Smiley Creek Inn or a slightly longer (21 miles) ride to Stanley which has a wider variety of accommodations.
Smokey Mountains
Paradise Creek Trail
While in the Stanley area, please  patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Smiley Creek Lodge Stanley

D4 - Smiley Creek to Challis
(135 miles)

D4 Profile

Grand Prize Gulch * ST 2+
Little Boulder Creek *** PG ST 3
Frog Lake, PG ST 3
Big Boulder Creek ** ST 2
French Creek ST 3
Thompson Creek/Cinnabar ST 3
Five Mile Creek, PG ST 3
CS Custer Lookout (CCW), X *** ST 4+
Squaw Creek ST 2
Squaw Creek  ATV 1
Trealor Creek ATV 3-
Ramshorn/Keystone Mountain *** UTV 2
Lombard Trail ** UTV 2-

Day four continues the trend of D3 - again traversing some of the most spectacular terrain in the USA accessible by motorcycle. It's 135 miles of continuous fun with an elevated level of challenge - both riding and navigational. Gas should not be an issue. D4 is short by design. You'll have plenty of time to kick back at Sawmill Station for lunch and you should get in Challis early. Ten or so hours ought to suffice.

From Smiley Creek head east on trail 194 a few miles to Pole Creek then about 3 miles further to a intersection with Grand Prize Gulch Trail (7112) on the right. Follow 7112 about 7 miles to the East Fork of the Salmon then another few miles to NFD 120 near the Bower Guard Station. 

From the Guard Station follow the East Fork Road about 8 miles to an intersection with the Little Boulder Creek Trail (7682) on the left. This single track trail is one of the highlights of the Tour (video). Follow this (7682, 7407) about 10 miles up and over a pass to the abandoned mining town of Livingston (video). The next 5 miles (70669) climb steeply to the highest point of the Tour (10,420') atop Railroad Ridge where you'll want to stop for a while to enjoy a vista that includes virtually all of the highest parts of Idaho and the spectacular Chinese Wall.  

Railroad Ridge
Railroad RIdge

Proceed north 11 miles (70670, 7615, 7675, 2001) to French Creek where the trail narrows from dirt road, to jeep trail to single track as it descends down to the Salmon River. At the very bottom of French Creek, within sight of Hwy 75, the trail bears left to avoid private land near waypoint 4D24. Do not go through the gate to get to the road. Instead find the trail off to the left which climbs a side hill and descends toward a trailhead parking area. From the intersection with Hwy 75 head east about a mile to Old Sawmill Station where gas is available (24 x 7) along with supplies, camping and some of the best grub along the entire Tour. 

From Old Sawmill Station, head west along 75 about 3 miles to a bridge which crosses the Salmon River on the right, The right of way on the north side of the bridge is private so head west another two and a half miles along 75 to a dirt road just the other side of a bridge that is a public right of way.Follow this back around to Thompson Creek Road (FS 040).

Head north along Thompson Creek Road (FS 040) about 10 miles to a trail on the left (161) near waypoint 4D32. This trail is not hard to miss but you'll know you did if your start climbing steeply up a series of switchbacks. Follow 161 west about a mile and a half to Cinnabar Creek Trail (162).
Castle Peak
Little Boulder Creek
Thompson Creek
Thompson Creek
A very short distance later you'll encounter the D4 challenge: Custer LO. Though very short, this 3.5 mile loop will test your meddle - including your ability to deal with dizzying side hills (we're talking serious exposure here). It is recommended that you ride the loop counterclockwise only. 

Why you should ride it. You'll never find a better view than from the top. Why you should not. It's a long way down in a few spots and some commitment is required to advance. Not advised for soloists. 

Continue west down Five Mile Creek to an intersection with Yankee Fork Road (FS 070). Turn right and head northeast about eight miles to McKay Creek on the right. Follow McKay Creek Road about a mile as it turns into trail 151, then a short distance to an intersection with Squaw Creek Trail (149). Follow 149 south about 7 miles until it turns into Squaw Creek Road (40041), then another mile to an intersection with Trealor Creek Road (40045) on the east (left). Follow Trealor Creek road a mile or so to an intersection with a jeep trail (40695) that heads north. A short distance up this trail you'll encounter the Trealor Creek Trail (159) on the right. In the beginning this is one of the worst beater ATV trails bad dreams are capable of conjuring. It does get better with elevation. Follow this five miles up and over Buffalo Ridge and down to Bayhorse Lake. Head down Bayhorse Creek Road about a mile to an intersection with a jeep road that ascends sharply to the left. 

Head up this road past Little Bayhorse Lake to a hard left at waypoint 4D53 and past a spectacular rockslide. Continue east some five miles over Ramshorn and Keystone Mountains to an intersection with the Keystone Gulch jeep road.

Thompson Creek/Cinnabar
Thompson/Cinnabar (snap a selfie of yourself at this spot and upload to our Facebook page) 

From here, ascend Keystone Gulch and hang a left (waypoint 4D59) at the Lombard ATV trail (4639). Continue northeast past Blue Mountain (video). Just a few miles outside of Challis, a mile or so below the pass north of Blue Mountain, the trail splits (waypoint 4D64). The right fork descends to the State Park at Yankee Fork (a fee area). Take the left fork, right down the creek bed, a few miles into Challis.

Challis (5000'), at about rail mile 700, is about the same size as Arco (population 1200) and has about the same level of services. 
Mike McGowan has a  home-garage shop on the edge of town (about a mile west of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center). There are several motels, half a dozen or so eateries and plenty of choices for gas and supplies (Kimble Oil, the Phillips 66 station on U.S. 93, is particularly well-equipped for your TID needs: straps, gas jugs, tools, outdoor equipment - we even found 4 stroke motorcycle oil there). Ethanol-free gas is available at Kimble Oil and Brett's Automotive. The Challis Village Inn is probably the best place to stay in Challis but there are several other perfectly fine motels. Any of them will work.    

If time permits the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center (south of town at the intersection of US 93 and ID 75) is well worth taking the time to visit.

While in the Challis area, please  patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Challis Village Inn Old Sawmill Station

D5 - Challis to North Fork (155 miles)

D5 Profile

Pat's Creek/Eddy Basin, PG * ST 3
West Fork Morgan Creek/Furnace Creek, R ** ST 4-
Van Horn/Woods Peak/Alder Creek, PG *** ST 4
Corral Creek  ST 3
Hat Creek Lakes, R *** ST 4

Day five includes the second highest point of the Tour (Twin Peaks Lookout - 10,330') and about 50 miles of single track that is quite technical at times. Most will find this to be a long day for such a relatively short distance. Count on 10+ hours on the trail or more to North Fork if sawing is required (almost always). Some of the trails on D5 are rarely ridden outside of the Tour of Idaho community. At the beginning of the season it could take two days to ride this section if it hasn't been sawed. Unless the gas station at Shoup happens to be open there is no gas available between Challis and North Fork.

To begin, head west up Main Street a few blocks to 7th Street/Challis Creek Road on the north (right). Proceed north out of town five or so miles to NFD 138 - the Darling Creek Road. From here it is a 25-mile out and back to the summit of Twin Peaks Lookout (video).

On the descent from Twin Peaks look for Pats Creek (40173) on the left side of the road near the intersection of Challis Creek and Valley Creek. If for some reason the Pat Creek/Eddy Creek trail is closed the Darling Creek trail, a few miles east, is a good alternative.

Turn left (north) and follow the Eddy Creek/Camas Trail (4134) a few miles to Eddy Basin. Turn right on trail 4145 and head uphill a few miles to a sharp right turn (at waypoint 5D13) that's easy to miss. Head southeast as the trail climbs to a spectacular view of Morgan Creek and and an intersection with Trail 4144 which descends to a picnic area at the top of road 176. Follow this road downhill a few miles to an intersection with road 057 and turn left. Follow 057 northwest about 3/4 of a mile to the West Fork of Morgan Creek Trail (4143).
Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks LO

Twin Peaks Idaho
Twin Peaks LO
You are now heading into one of the most remote areas you'll ever visit in the United States. Trail 4143 has wonderful views and is pretty moderate but for a few short technical sections, but it is very, very remote. Don't ride off a side hill or break down. It's a long walk out and no one is coming up the trail except another Tour of Idaho rider. This area generally only gets sawed by Tour of Idaho riders so be prepared for some work in early season. .
Follow trail 4143 westward up Morgan Creek for about 3 miles to an intersection with trail 4234. Continue another few miles, past West Fork Lakes, climbing steeply to the scenic headlands above Morgan Creek where the trail loops back to the east. After two or so more miles, 4234 intersects trail Lick Creek Trail (4142) which descends steeply to the east into Morgan Creek. Bear northwest (left) at this point and contour around the steep slopes above the headwaters of Furnace Creek. After another 1.5 miles you'll encounter the Furnace Creek Trail (4140) on the left (west). Furnace Creek Trail descends into Camas Creek on the edge of the wilderness area. You will, instead, turn right and continue northeast up Furnace Creek over a divide west of Van Horn Peak (9616') and an intersection with Trail 4139. Follow the spectacular ridge trail around Wood's Peak another few miles and descend Alder Creek.

For those feeling cheated on the amount of single track thus far it's possible to turn south on 055 at the base of Alder Creek and take trail 8360 to Morgan Summit. This adds an hour to the day that's probably not worth the time unless you are really jonesing for more single-track.

From the base of Alder Creek turn left (north) on Morgan Creek Road (FS 055) and follow it a few miles to Morgan Creek Summit. Turn right (east) on road 40129. At the end of this road, continue along trail 4251 north, then east, another 3.3 miles to an intersection with trail 6094.

Turn left (north) at this intersection and follow FS 6093 a few miles to Hat Creek Lakes. Continue, generally north another 4 or so miles over a couple of spectacular mountain passes to Iron lake.

Continue north along FS 020 road 7 miles to an intersection with NFD 099 on the left. The D5 Challenge begins here. This challenge, an out and back, is not at all technical but it is quite long. The challenge is finding enough time and fuel to get it done.
Why you should ride it. It's far and away the easiest challenge and the views of the Bighorn Crags will be indelibly imprinted in your memory. Why you should not. Getting out and back with enough fuel to make it to North Fork will require careful planning. Don't discount coasting.  

Hat Creek
Hat Creek Lakes Trail

Hat Creek Lakes
Hat Creek Lakes Trail (selfie here please)
Continue along FS020 for 10 miles to Williams Creek Summit (some of the views along this ridge are truly stunning). Turn left (west) at the intersection and follow the Salmon Truck Route 13 miles down to Panther Creek. Don't let "Truck Route" fool you - this is a sweet ride. From the intersection with Panther Creek Road it's 45 uneventful miles to North Fork.

Over the years the Tour has, in some years, made an overnight stop at Shoup. We recommended The Shoup Store for gas, great food, lodging and some motorcycle supplies during seasons it was open. Unfortunately, as of 2016, the Shoup Store has once again closed and up for sale. This is the third time in the history of the Tour this has happened and we are no longer recommending Shoup Store as an overnight stop. Instead ride 17 miles east to The Village at North Fork where you'll find food, accommodations, supplies and fuel. North Fork is a very well-established facility. If you get to North Fork and the store is boarded up it means that the world has come to an end while you were out in the woods. 

While in North Fork please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.
Village at North Fork

D6 - North Fork to Lowell (250 miles)

D6 Profile

CS Butcher Knife Ridge ** ST 1
CS Divide Trail, PG * ST 2+
505 Trail ATV 2
Anderson Butte Trail  ATV 2

Day six is one of the easiest days of the Tour. Though most of the riding covers scenic dirt roads, the 50 miles of single track and ATV trail east of Elk City are a treat. Budget 8 hours to Elk City and another couple of hours to Lowell. The only major difficulty is that D6 begins one of the longest gas-less stretches of the Tour. There is exactly one place for gas in the next 425+ miles. Your Giant Loop fuel bags will prove their value in the next two days. The D6 challenge is one of the best of the Tour. If I were going to choose only one challenge section it would be this one.

You'll want to load up on gas at North Fork because the next opportunity for fuel (short of scavenging) is in Elk City, 200 miles away. Many many years of bitter experience have taught us that dirt bikes make particularly poor wheelbarrows when deployed along the Darby-Elk City Road. You'd be amazed at how few people travel that road when you are out of fuel.

Magruder Road
Magruder Road
Head west out of North Fork along NFD 030 about 8 miles to an intersection with Sage Creek Road (NFD 005) on the right (north). It is here, right out of the chute, you'll encounter the D6 challenge, Butcher Knife Ridge/Divide Trail, which ascends steeply many thousands of feet to the Idaho/Montana border. This one is a good one and eminently worthy of your consideration.

Why you should ride it. Butcher Knife Ridge is one of the best single track trails on the entire Tour. Why you should not. Spring Creek Road is pretty scenic as well. The lookout tally is the same either way. On the standard route you get Blue Nose, on the challenge section you get Ulysses Mountain. Selfie at either.

Continue along NFC 030 a few more miles to NFD 038, Spring Creek Road. Head north and ascend nearly 4000' over the next 16 miles to NFD 044 near Beartrap Ridge (8303'). A bit north of this is Blue Nose Lookout (8677'). Follow NFD 044 north 5.5 miles to Horse Creek Pass (7400') on the Idaho-Montana border. Turn right (north) and head downhill along Beaver Creek 10 or so miles to West Fork Highway (473), which is paved. From  the intersection of  NFD044 to  Nez Perce Pass you are in Montana. 

Turn east (right) onto 473 and follow it generally north for several miles past the community of Alta to mile-marker 26 (just south of Painted Rocks Reservoir). Turn left (west) onto NFD 5660 (Coal Creek Road) and follow it past some homes (please respect the privacy of these homeowners and take it easy while riding the right of way through their properties) for about a mile to an intersection with NFD 5658 on the right. Turn right at this intersection and go several miles as Upper Coal Creek Road skirts the south and west shores of Painted Rocks Reservoir on a scenic ridge high above the waters.  

Eventually the road descends into a valley and intersects with NFD 362. Turn left on NFD 362 and follow it a short distance to the first road that veers off to the right. Follow a series of well-marked roads 6 miles up to Tough Creek Saddle. From Tough Creek Saddle follow the road the goes north then west descending steeply down to the Nez Perce Road.

You are beginning a trek through the heart of the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states - the Frank Church. Head west on Nez Perce (also know as the Darby-Elk City Road) to Nez Perce Pass (6597'). This pass marks the approximate halfway point of the Tour of Idaho. Go west 15 miles downhill to the Selway River, then another 5 miles to the Magruder Crossing Campground and an intersection with NFD 6223 on the north (right). Go left (south) continuing along the Nez Perce Road and the Magruder Corridor. The road climbs a long grade 5 miles to Kim Creek Saddle (6000'). Continue a few more miles to the Salmon Mountain overlook (8228'). 
Kim Creek Saddle
Midnight repair on the second Tour of Idaho

Elk City
505/835 Trails
Continue along the Nez Perce/Magruder Corridor/Darby-Elk City Road (video) 40 miles, generally west, to Mountain Meadows. Look for an ATV trail (505) that departs the main road north less than a mile from Mountain Meadows (mile marker 6, waypoint 6D36).

The 505/835 ATV trail network is one of the better ones along the entire Tour. Follow the 505 north several miles to Soda Creek Point then continue as the trail gradually wraps west and follows a series of switchbacks down the mountain to Red River and FS 234 (note: Red River Hot Springs is 2.5 miles northeast along the road 234 at this point. There are supplies there, but no gas pumps). Turn left and head southwest on FS234 several miles to an intersection with Ditch Creek Trail (507). Turn right and head west then north a few miles up single track to an intersection with FSR 1189. Turn right (north) and go a few miles to road 1182. Then it's northeast for a few miles to an intersection with FSR 423.
Follow 423 to Black Hawk Mountain (video).

Up until 2016 the Tour continued past Black Hawk Mountain directly to Lowell. Unfortunately the only gas station in Lowell is now closed. That being the case you'll have to take the a 25-mile detour west into Elk City for gas. Elk City is a pretty remarkable place. It's remote and as such well-stocked to keep the locals from having to make the horrendous drive to the nearest town.

You'll find gas, food and some supplies if you look around. You'll want to take on as much gas as you can carry at Elk City because it's 225+ miles to the next gas along the Tour route at Powell Ranger Station.

The network of roads, single track trails, ATV trails and goat trails around Elk City is a complex maze. I've ridden these trails dozens of times and I still have trouble in places. That's because there are trails literally going everywhere - often within a few feet of each other. In places there will be a road, an ATV trail and a single track all going in the same direction a few yards apart. This is the one area along the Tour where you may be forgiven from wandering from the established route. Just get into Elk City and back on the Tour the best way that you can that's close to the recommended route. The recommended route is good, but good luck staying on it. 

After Elk City you'll ride back to the 505 and head generally northwest along ATV trails (505) another few miles to Anderson Butte. Then go northwest 10 or so miles along the Anderson Butte Recreational Trail (835) to NFD 443 (Note: There is a right turn just north of Anderson Butte that is not completely obvious). Continue north on NFD 443 a short distance to an intersection with NFD 464 on the west (left). Turn east (right) and continue along NFD 443 another 6 miles until the road narrows near Falls Point. Here the road takes an amazing 3800' plunge in 7 miles to Selway Falls. Once in the valley follow the Selway River downstream a mile or so to a bridge crossing. On the other side of the bridge turn northeast (left) and follow the Selway Road downstream some 14 miles to Lowell.

Lowell is a small community with a motel and a restaurant. As of 2016 the gas station/store (Cougar Station) is closed. The Wilderness Inn is currently the only dependable option for lodging.

Lowell is the lowest elevation of the Tour at 1450'.

While in Lowell, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.

D7 - Lowell to Powell RS
(160 miles) 

D7 Profile

Pete King Ridge * ATV 1
Fish Butte, R ** ST 4
Fish Butte ATV 1
CS Sherman Creek, R * ST 5
Fish Creek, R * ST 4
Ant Hill ST 3
Windy Ridge ** ST 3
Windy Bill * ST 3
Switchback Hill/Scurvy Mountain ST 4-
Junction Mountain ST 3
Scurvy Mountain * ATV 1

Fish Butte
Fish Butte Trail
Day seven is a good one. You'll want to get an early start as the short distance to Powell Ranger Station (170+ miles - depending on the exact route taken) makes the day deceiving. Much of D7 is spent on single track trail that, though mostly moderate, is relatively slow going. Powell Ranger Station is also a good place to get to early if you expect to find an unreserved bunk. Expect to spend about 10 hours on the bike. Hopefully you have supplemental fuel you carried from Elk City because it's 230 miles from Elk City to Powell Ranger Station - they next place along the Tour you'll find fuel.

From Lowell go east on Highway 12 about 2 miles to Pete King Creek. Head up the creek for about a mile then turn right (east) and climb steeply along an ATV trail for several miles to Pete King Ridge and an eventual intersection with FS 460. Follow 460 for a few miles west toward Higgins Hump then take FS 5515 a few miles north to Fan Saddle and an intersection with FS 101. After a short side trip to Walde Lookout (selfie from the top of the tower required), continue north several miles along FS 101 to Canyon Junction.

From Canyon Junction take NFD 483 several miles east to Frenchman's Butte. Continue east several more miles to Middle Butte, then 
north and east to Fish Butte Saddle. Here you'll find trail 2230 on the right and a short, 3-mile out and back to the top of Fish Butte straight ahead. After ascending to the summit of Fish Butte and returning to the same spot head east along 2230, a spectacular single track trail, several miles downhill to Hwy 12.

At Hwy 12 you'll have a choice between continuing along the regular route (what I recommend - it's really nice) or the day's challenge section - Sherman Creek. To ride the challenge follow Hwy 12 northeast a couple of miles to Sherman Creek Trail which is found on the left. This challenge is neither particularly scenic nor inspiring but it is quite high effort. It rejoins the regular route at the Lolo Motorway (FS500) several miles east of FS485.

Why you should ride it. If you have been bored and feel as if you are not getting enough exercise the first six days of the Tour that'll all change here. This variant is significantly shorter than the regular route so you'll save fuel. Why you should not. Know your size. This one requires some
strength and skill.

Near Highway 12 the Tour turns left and heads east up trail 2240, Fish Creek, several miles to Trail 225, Ant Hill. Climb steeply for a few miles to FS485 and follow this east to the Lolo Motorway, FS500.
Windy Ridge
Windy Ridge
Scurvy LO
Scurvy Mountain LO
Turn right (east) on NFD 500 and proceed a few miles to a brief out and back to the Castle Creek Lookout. After this head generally east several more miles to 12-mile Saddle. Here at 12-mile Saddle the fun really begins. Head north along single track trail 164 some seven miles to trail an intersection with trail 531 on the right (waypoint 7D48). Take trail 531 to Windy Bill Saddle, across and down Switchback Hill then climb Scurvy Mountain to a truly spectacular view. This section of trail is lightly used and many parties (including myself) have struggled to find the path forward through the brush.

The Scurvy Mountain LO is available to groups as a wilderness retreat. Please be courteous to anyone you meet there - and snap a selfie!
An alternative trail (this counts as part of the Tour) that leaves Windy Bill Saddle before Switchback Hill (waypoint 7DD0) and heads toward Junction Mountain is just as good as the regular route. The only difference is a bit more dirt road (and overall miles). If the hour is late it is the preferred alternative as the climb up to Scurvy Mountain is overgrown and difficult to follow in a few places - especially in the dark. 
From Scurvy Mountain LO you'll follow an ATV trail steeply downhill several miles to East Saddle and FS 581 road. Here the alternative route rejoins the regular route.

Follow this east and south to Cayuse Creek, then uphill to Toboggan Ridge. Continue southeast along 581 around 20 miles to Cayuse Junction and an intersection with the Lolo Motorway (NFD 500). Follow NFD 500 east about 10 miles to Papoose Saddle. From here you are very close to Powell Junction with numerous alternatives, all involving logging roads. The suggested route, which follows NFD 568 downhill to US 12, is as good as any.

A left turn (east) on US 12 will deposit you at your destination in about 3 miles. Here you'll encounter the historic Powell Ranger Station and Lochsa Lodge. I guarantee that you'll find the ambiance very enjoyable after a day of great riding.

You'll need to make a reservation in advance (generally by several months) if you want a place to sleep that's not on grass. The complex contains a lodge, campground, cabins a general store and gas pumps.  
Pete King
Pete King Trail

While at Lochsa Lodge, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Lochsa Lodge

D8 - Powell RS to Wallace
(170 miles)

Profile D8

Rock Garden Trail, R ** ST 4
State Line Trail, PG *** ST 3
CS Simmons Creek/Simmons-Hellar Divide, PG ST 3
CS Simmons Ridge, R ** ST 5-

Clearwater Country
Day eight is another gem. It's also a day for another early start as you'll want to arrive in Wallace, the penultimate "big city" on the Tour, early enough to enjoy both the hospitality of Donna and her staff at the Ryan Hotel along with a well-deserved nice meal at any of a dozen splendid eateries in Wallace. You'll be celebrating your impending D9 finish if you make it to Wallace without incident. Ten hours ought to do it.

D8 is split between single track and logging roads with a few fast transfer sections. Most of the trails are moderate in difficulty but very, very scenic. It's a fun day but for about 20 feet of trail.. The main D8 issue is logistical - there is no gas available anywhere in the 170 miles between PRS and Wallace so once again carrying some supplemental fuel is advisable. Under normal circumstances, large parties with OHVs may be found at the Cedars campground about halfway to Wallace. I have never been refused on an offer to purchase a few gallons of fuel here.

Begin by heading north out of PRS several miles along FS 569 up Parachute Hill to Powell Junction. From here you'll ride the a section you rode near the end of D7, FS 500 and FS 581, in the opposite direction to Lunde Ridge. Turn left off of FS 581 and take the Lunde Ridge Trail (534) 12+ miles through the aptly named Rock Garden. Rock Garden contains some actual gnarl and is the most difficult trail of the day. The first big, exposed switchback is a bear (selfie please).

to Lunde Peak, then down trail 534 to Cayuse Creek and an intersection with Trail 532. Follow 532 east down Cayuse Creek for a few miles to an intersection with FS 581. 

Turn left (north) and continue along 581 a few miles over the mountain to Kelly Creek. Continue north along FS 255 (Moose Creek Road) 10 miles or so, across Deception Saddle, and downhill to an intersection with NFD 250 - the main drag along the North Fork of the Clearwater. Turn right on NFD 250 and head northeast a few miles to The Cedars.

State Line Trail (selfie please)
Missoula Lake
Missoula Lake, State Line Trail
From The Cedars, look for an intersection with NFD 720, which climbs out of the Clearwater River and heads west 10 miles to Fly Hill and an intersection with NFD 715. Follow NFD 715 another 10 miles north to Gospel Hill (6457') then another 6 miles to an intersection with NFD 320. Turn east (right) and follow NFD 320 to Missoula Lake on the Idaho/Montana border.

From here you'll turn left and head north some 6 miles north along the State Line Trail (391) to Binocular Peak and Heart Lake. There is one deeply rutted climb in this section (in the vicinity of waypoint 8D38) that will pose the last significant challenge of the Tour for most groups.

For any group still in need of a challenge section to make them feel right about the Tour, the long but worthy Heller Divide/Simmons Ridge loop 
begins here.

Why you should ride it. Very scenic and quite challenging in a few spots. Why you should not. It's long and does not add anything to the day except miles. Get to Wallace early and celebrate. 
For all others, continue north, along 391 another 5 miles until it becomes a road near Little Joe Mountain. Follow NFD 391, now State Line Road, several miles to NFD 50. 

Cross NFD 50 and continue on State Line Road another 30 miles northeast past Quarles Peak, Crittenden Peak and Dominion Peak to Roland Summit. Turn south (left) at St. Paul Pass and descend a few miles down Cliff Creek to NFD 326. Be careful descending Cliff Creek Road, as you will be sharing, part of the way, the right of way with bicyclists pedaling the
Hiawatha Trail. Follow this west to Moon Pass Road (NFD 456). Turn north (right) on NFD 456 and follow it over Moon Pass (4826') about 19 miles to Wallace.

Wallace is a historic mining town with a current population of slightly less than 1000. It's located just off I -90, and is generally brimming with tourists. There are a variety of restaurants, hotels, motels and shops. It's one of the best towns along the entire Tour in which to spend some time. We recommend the Ryan Hotel for accommodations where Donna and her staff will treat you right. Ethanol-free gas is available at Beamis Hi Co.

Congrats, you are almost done. Make sure to snap a selfie with Donna at the Ryan.
Heller Divide
Heller Simmons Divide

While in Wallace, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Ryan

D9 - Wallace to Priest Lake
(180 miles) 

D9 profile

CS Independence Creek, R * ST 3

Day nine - almost done! Gas, food and water are not a problem on day nine as there are frequent highway crossings and small towns all along the way. It's the easiest day of the Tour. Mostly it's a long transfer section to get you to Sundance Mountain and the Selkirks (a beautiful mountain range virtually unknown beyond the area). It's very easy to get lost in maze after maze of logging roads on D9 and we are not too particular about which exact one that you take in most places as long as you generally follow the Tour route. Though not difficult, the riding is scenic, relaxing and enjoyable. It's a good last day. Plan on 8 hours to Sundance and a bit more to return to your shuttle in Priest River.

From downtown Wallace, take 6th street north under I-90 to 9-mile Road/NFD 456 and follow it north. After three miles 456 (which is paved) heads uphill through a series of curves while 9-mile Road veers left and becomes dirt. Continue along 9-mile Road a short distance as it ascends through a series of switchbacks to an intersection with NFD 424. Turn west (left) on NFD 424 and follow it 16 miles as it winds northwest to Moon Saddle. Your GPS track will prove invaluable in keeping you on route through the maze of logging roads that criss-cross this area. From Moon Saddle (4669') head west (left) a short distance and find NFD 620 which heads north (right). Follow NFD 620 about 9 miles as it descends to the Coeur D'Alene River Road (NFD 9). Note: we've experienced consistent problems with a variety of GPS units in this area getting a good fix. The hillsides are steep, the trees large and clear views of the sky sometimes difficult to obtain.

Proceed east (right) on NFD 9 for 1.5 miles to a river crossing. Immediately on the north side of the bridge you'll encounter NFD 503 (Old River Road - County 1 C) on the left. Head west along this road and look almost immediately for an intersection with NFD 207 (Brown Creek Road). Go northwest a few miles to Brown Creek Saddle, then north a few more miles to along FS 993 to Grizzly Ridge.

Continue north along Grizzly Ridge Road (NFD 260), then to Flat Creek Saddle and Grassy Mountain, then, north of NFD 265, to Spyglass Peak Lookout (look for a short road up to the lookout on the left. The road then heads west a few miles to Big Meadows and the Magee Historic Site. From here you may turn right (north) and follow NFD 6310 a few miles to the challenge section for D9, the Independence Creek Trail.

Why you should ride it. One of the easiest challenge sections and it's the only technical trail on D9. Why you should not. This trail is an example of what happens when a bunch of surrounding trails are closed thus funneling all traffic onto one. Independence Creek is rutted, beat to death and uninteresting except for one really spectacular climb near it's end (worth the trip). You've already seen better.

For those staying on the main route it continues west along NFD 534, the Cascade Magee Road, to Hamilton Creek/Hamilton Mountain Road (436) on the right (north). Follow this 7+ miles to Crooked Ridge Road (258), then head north a few miles to Bunco Road (332). Any of the multitude of logging roads in the area that gets you to Bunco Road works as well as any other. We aren't picky.

Follow Bunco Rd. (NFD 332) across Prospect Peak then 7.5 miles steeply downhill to Bunco Corners. Turn north (right) on Goodhopper Road and proceed 0.5 miles to Belmont Road. Turn west (left) on Belmont and proceed a mile to N. Lewellen Creek road 1.5 miles to SR 54. Turn left (west) and proceed three miles to an intersection with US 95. Proceed across 95 to the town of Athol - a great place for a brief lunch and fuel before the last push north.
Independence Creek
Independence Creek

Hoodoo Mountain
Hoodoo Mountain
Head west out of Athol on Watkins Ave./SR 54. Go 1.5 miles to an intersection with North Clagstone Road on the north (right). Take Clagstone Road north and east 10 miles to an intersection with Spirit Lake Cutoff. Head west (straight) through this intersection and continue along Clagstone Road another 1.5 miles to an intersection with Blanchard Cutoff Road. Turn west (right) and follow this road a little less than a mile to NFD 2550 Road on the north (right). This is the second dirt road on the right and is marked with a sign that has an anvil on it.

This is the heart of Ruby Ridge country and it would be best if you didn't get lost. That tune that keeps running through your head, the one that you can't quite place - it's Dueling Banjos.

Follow NFD 2550 as it winds it's way 7.5 miles up to the summit of Hoodoo Mountain (4665'). You'll have to backtrack about a mile from the summit to find the continuation of NFD 2550 that descends the north side of the mountain to Priest River. Follow NFD 2550 down some 15 miles to an intersection with Dufort Road on the south side of the Pend Oreille River. Follow this road west 3 miles along the southern bank of the Pend Oreille to a bridge that crosses the river north to the town of Priest River.

Priest River is the best place to have a shuttle waiting. It's also the the last chance for gas before the final sprint into the heart of the Selkirks. Mitchell's Express has ethanol-free gas. The Eagle's Nest Motel is the best lodging anywhere near the end of the Tour.

Travel America RV Park in Sagle (about 20 miles east) is the best place near the end of the Tour to park a rig that you plan on leaving for a week plus.If you are doing a self-shuttle, this is your best bet. 

Take US 2 east out of the town of Priest River. A
bout a mile east of town look for an intersection with East Side Road (W43) on the north (left) side of the highway. Proceed north 12 miles to an intersection with W39 (East River Road). Turn north (right) and proceed 11 miles toward Coolin. About a mile or so south of Coolin, look for the Sundance Mountain Road on the right (east).

Follow this route uphill a few miles to an intersection with 207. Take this jeep road steeply uphill a few miles to the majestic Sundance Mountain Lookout. Enjoy the splendid views of the Selkirks and Priest Lake. You've made it.

If you get to Sundance early enough it's not a bad ride up to the original end of Tour north of Upper Priest Lake, then back down the west side of the lake back to Priest River. This loop, however, adds another 80 miles to the end of the day.

Sundance Mountain (selfie in the tower please)

Selkirk Crest
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