Tour of Idaho
Everyone is free to use
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 be prepared to accept a few
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
Tour of Idaho aspirants are
expected to attempt the route in small groups
(no more than three) without any
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
12th edition of the Tour, like the 2016 version, will
have no challenge points to be acquired or jersey
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
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
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 -
odds of success are much higher and Interwebs bragging
rights far easier to obtain (no slight intended, both options
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.
Moonrise and Sunset at Chinese Peak
free to check out
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
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
be useful resources.
Now down to brass tacks. There
are three things that you'll need in order to maximize your educational
here. 1) The patience and ability to read for comprehension. 2) The
capacity to fully grasp navigation. 3) The skill to
a map and route book.
The 2016 route
are available at Butler
as part of a kit that
contains maps and a route book. The 2017 route is better than
the same as the 2016 route so these maps and route book are still good
and a very worthy investment. I will publish a small addenda to the
Butler set on this site before the Tour season begins in July. The route files for 2017
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
following a line on their iPhones and this proved to be the cause of
endless difficulty. Weeks of map
navigational preparation are advised for the Tour and our new files are
encourage you to do just that. The best way to prepare is to
the maps and route book you should acquire from Butler
with our gpx route files and notes. If you
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.
Voyager users here is your
route. If you are not a TT Voyager
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
desert tanks along with a Giant
fuel bladder or two.
have an extensive
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
have interactive maps
with very high resolution views of
the trails for the entire Tour. These maps are an invaluable
road/trail numbers, opening and closing dates - there's even
Inciweb layer available. For fire information check out the Idaho
Inciweb page. The Idaho
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.
trail is much more than a
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
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
The Challis district, btw, has the best trail crew in the state.
of the Elk
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
thanks to Donn
Dennis who provided information on northern Idaho.
huge thanks to Bill
whose excellent maps of the central part of the state make planning in
that area much easier.
to our friends at Pocatello
Sports for keeping us in bikes,
tires and accessories.
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
way of checking in with family and friends at the end of each day.
description breaks the Tour into nine
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 suggested schedule are that accommodations are not generally a
and the riding difficulties
are distributed so that one day is not significantly more
than the next. The intervals are as follows:
D1 - Utah to Pocatello, D2 - Pocatello to Arco, D3 - Arco to Smiley
Smiley Creek to Challis, D5 - Challis to North Fork, D6 - North
Fork to Lowell, D7 - Lowell to Powell Ranger
Station, D8 - Powell Ranger
Wallace, D9 - Wallace to Sundance Mountain.
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
or equipment issues that you may have discovered on D1. It
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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
and steep climbs. Most will find this
to be a full day,10 hours or so being a good time.
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
The traditional Tour start in Black Canyon has been changed.
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
a series of roads and ATV trails (70055 and 7488)
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)
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
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
spine of Oxford
Ridge gaining about 2000'.
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
Spring (just before the next steep climb) and descends an
ATV trail (7419) steeply into Oxford Basin.
detour from the ridge is not obvious and a look at the GPS
prove extremely useful.
|After a long
descent to a small lake the
trail climbs out of Oxford basin.
A series of short climbs leads
dirt road that goes east (right). Go left after 1/4
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
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
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.
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
The route then follows a
series of logging roads and ATV trails (video)
that ascend to
Sedgwick Peak (9167').
A series of roads follows the crest of
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.
mile west of Lava on
turn north (right) on Sunnyside Road (70030).
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
Boundary Trail some 6
miles to Robbers Roost Trail (7253). Robbers Roost is equal
steep and spectacular (video)
and crosses the Portneuf Range crest just north of
Haystack Mountain (9033') before taking the rider steeply
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
(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
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
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.
Tour of Idaho Flagpole/Register
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
Canyon Road. At the intersection with Inman Canyon Road head west
(left) and descend several miles to an
intersection with Rapid Creek Road.
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
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
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
Boy Scout Pavilion. Go another 1/2 mile to an intersection with an ATV
trail that heads steeply uphill. Bear left, remaining on
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
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
ATV trail 3.75 miles west as it winds it's way to the summit
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
road that descends to the west. About three miles from the
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,
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
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
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
Sports for motorcycle related needs, Barrie's Ski &
Sports for general outdoor equipment and Fred Meyer for food and
general supplies. Ethanol-free
available at Oak
Street Sinclair (premium
Ethanol-free is available at any local
Wing Shoe store
offers a free
while-you-wait foot and boot inspection (custom insoles are pretty
boot cleaning for any Tour of Idaho rider who stops in. Jason Smoot has
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.
in Pocatello, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour
to Arco (260
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
Falls if you hit the desert sand in the heat of the afternoon on most
Twelve or so hours
ought to suffice
at any reasonable
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
(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
one of the best anywhere.
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)
follows the winding road 2 miles to the top of Scout
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
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
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
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
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
often not possible
elsewhere along the Tour.
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.
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
continue west crossing ID 37 to Kuper Road.
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
Turn right (west) and follow this road as it descends Sheep
for a few miles to an intersection with
NFD 577 on the right. Head steeply uphill on NFD 577 to a
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
then descend another 3/4 of a mile into Dairy Canyon.
right at the first intersection and left at the second (indistinct) a
(west) to a
just south of Badger Peak (6500'). There is a faint road that leaves
west and can be ridden a half mile or so to the top of a knoll.
Slate Mountain Trail
Crestline Cycle Trail
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
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
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.
route out of American
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).
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
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
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
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
the heat will be the summit of Big Southern Butte many miles to the
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.
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
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
hazards. Beware of large lava rocks, often hidden in the sand,
may assume are bolted directly to the center of the earth. You'll need
to keep up your speed
climb the omnipresent dunes, but at a level below reckless abandon
You are required to
upload a selfie to
the 2017 FB page at waypoint 2D110. Your smart phone data connection
will work there.
American Falls Desert
bowl follow the waypoints half a mile to a climb out of the bowl on the
right. Proceed along through a
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
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
From here the
route skirts the east edge of the Wapi Lava Flow some 35 miles
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
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
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
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.
BSB-Springfield Road turn
left (west) and proceed
a few miles to Frenchman's
6-mile trek to
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,
Montana and Idaho's Snake River Valley from the Tetons all the
to Boise (video).
Big Southern Butte
Frenchman's Cabin the Tour proceeds west along
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
community with an excellent motorcycle shop (Lost River
Honda), a variety of eateries and several motels.
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.
in Arco, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of
to Smiley Creek
Burnt Aspen/Kane Creek
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
will find this to be an easy day. You are beginning the best part of
the Tour. Days 3 - 5 are all up there.
route out of Arco may be
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
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
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.
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
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
Antelope Valley Road back toward US 93 and around the
Alder Creek Road.
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
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.
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
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.
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 (left). 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
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
here the route heads
west over Trail
Creek Summit. From Trail Creek Summit you'll head southwest some 12
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
home here as well and that might've had something to do with why he
for an early ride on the great wheel in the sky on July 2, 1961.
taking the time to park your fanny on a bench in the
Jacques and just take it all in (you are, after all, on a Tour of
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
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 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
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
challenge: Big Peak
should ride it. It's short
and scenic. Why
you should not. Though barely 5 miles in
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).
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
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),
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).
this intersection head north and follow the trail steeply
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
Paradise Creek Trail
- Smiley Creek
four continues the trend of D3 -
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
or so hours ought to suffice.
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
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
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).
this (7682, 7407) about
miles up and over a pass to
the abandoned mining town of Livingston
next 5 miles (70669) climb
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.
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
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
Hwy 75 head east
about a mile to Old
is available (24 x 7) along with supplies,
and some of the best grub along the entire
head west along 75 about 3 miles to a bridge which crosses the
River on the right, The right of way on the north side of the bridge is
private so head west another two and
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
Road (FS 040).
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).
Little Boulder Creek
very short distance later you'll
encounter the D4
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
should ride it. You'll never
find a better view than from the
should not. It's a long way
down in a few spots and some
commitment is required to advance. Not advised for soloists.
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
McKay Creek Road about a mile as it turns into trail 151, then
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
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
down to Bayhorse Lake. Head down Bayhorse Creek Road about a mile to an
intersection with a jeep road that ascends sharply to the
up this road past Little Bayhorse Lake to a hard left at waypoint 4D53
and past a spectacular rockslide. Continue east some five
over Ramshorn and Keystone
to an intersection with the Keystone Gulch jeep road.
Thompson/Cinnabar (snap a selfie of yourself at this spot and upload to our Facebook page)
ascend Keystone Gulch and hang a left (waypoint 4D59) at the
Lombard ATV trail
northeast past Blue Mountain (video).
few miles outside
of Challis, a mile
or so below the pass north of Blue Mountain, the trail splits (waypoint
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
at about rail
mile 700, is about
the same size as
has about the
same level of services. Mike
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
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
Village Inn is
best place to
stay in Challis but there are several other perfectly fine motels. Any
of them will work.
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
to North Fork
in the Challis area, please patronize these supporters of the
includes the second
highest point of
the Tour (Twin Peaks
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.
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
miles to NFD 138 - the Darling
Creek Road. From here it is a 25-mile out and back to the summit
the descent from Twin Peaks look for Pats Creek (40173) on the left
side of 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
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 LO
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. .
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)
descends steeply to the east into Morgan Creek. Bear northwest (left)
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
into Camas Creek on the edge of the wilderness area. You will, instead,
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
base of Alder
Creek turn left
(north) on Morgan
Creek Road (FS
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,
3.3 miles to an intersection with trail 6094.
Turn left (north) at this intersection and follow
FS 6093 a
few miles to Hat
generally north another 4 or so miles over a couple of
spectacular mountain passes to Iron lake.
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
should not. Getting out and
back with enough fuel to make it to
North Fork will require careful planning. Don't discount
Hat Creek Lakes Trail
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
uneventful miles to North
years the Tour has, in some years, made an overnight stop at
Shoup. We recommended The
Shoup Store for
food, lodging and some motorcycle
supplies during seasons it was open. Unfortunately, as of
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
at North Fork where
accommodations, supplies and fuel. North Fork is a very well-established
facility. If you get to North Fork and the store is
up it means that the world has come to an end while you were
in the woods.
in North Fork please be sure to patronize these supporters of the
- North Fork to Lowell
Day six is
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
Tour. There is exactly one place for gas in the next 425+ miles. Your
Loop fuel bags will prove their value in the next
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.
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.
west out of North Fork
NFD 030 about 10 miles to an intersection with Squaw Creek
Road (NFD 039). It is here, right out of the chute, you'll
encounter the D6
Marlin Spring/Divide, which ascends nearly 4000'
over 10 miles to NFD 038.
should ride it. The old D6
challenge (Razorback Mountain) disappeared in the current travel
management plan for the Bitterroot Forest and this alternative
it looks good on the map. Why
should not. The last time I
tried to ride this trail (albeit nearly 10 years ago) it
ended up being a bushwhacking nightmare. I don't personally
know anyone who's ridden it from end to end.
along NFC 030 a few
more miles to NFD 038, Spring Creek Road. Head north and
over the next 16 miles to NFD 044 near
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. At the Pass NFD 044 heads west
(left) along the state line. Continue straight ahead (north)
on NFD 044 a few miles to Woods Creek Pass. Here the route veers
heads steeply downhill. For the next 20 or so
are in Montana. Continue generally north 10 miles to an
intersection with Route 473, which is paved.
east (right) onto 473
follow it generally north for several miles past the community of
Alta to mile-marker 26 (just south of Painted Rocks
Turn left (west) onto NFD 5660 (Coal
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
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.
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
goes north then west descending steeply down to the Nez Perce
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
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
continuing along the Nez Perce Road and the Magruder Corridor. The road
climbs a long grade 5 miles to Kim
(6000'). Continue a few more miles to the Salmon Mountain
Midnight repair on the second Tour of Idaho
along the Nez Perce/Magruder Corridor/Darby-Elk City Road (video)
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
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
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
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
to Black Hawk
Up until 2016 the Tour continued past Black Hawk Mountain
directly to Lowell. Unfortunately the only gas
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
as much gas as you can carry at Elk City because it's 225+ miles to the
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
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
Recreational Trail (835) to NFD 443 (Note: There is a right turn just
north of Anderson Butte that is not completely obvious).
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
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.
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.
is the lowest
elevation of the Tour at 1450'.
in Lowell, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of
to Powell RS
Fish Butte Trail
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
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.
Lowell go east on
Highway 12 about 2
miles to Pete King Creek. Head up the creek for about a mile
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
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
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
Fish Butte straight ahead. After ascending to the summit of Fish Butte and returning to the same spot
east along 2230, a
spectacular single track trail, several
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
scenic nor inspiring but it is quite high effort. It rejoins the
regular route at the
Lolo Motorway (FS500) several miles east of FS485.
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
should not. Know your size. This one requires some
strength and skill.
Highway 12 the Tour turns left and heads east up trail 2240,
several miles to Trail 225, Ant Hill. Climb steeply for a few miles to
FS485 and follow this east to the Lolo Motorway, FS500.
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
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
across and down Switchback Hill then climb Scurvy Mountain to
view. This section of trail is lightly used and many parties (including myself)
have struggled to find the path forward through the brush.
Scurvy Mountain LO is available to groups as a wilderness retreat.
Please be courteous to anyone you meet there - and snap a selfie!
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.
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
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 Trail
Lochsa Lodge, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour
RS to Wallace
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
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
campground about halfway to Wallace. I have never been refused on an
offer to purchase a few gallons of fuel here.
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
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).
Continue to Lunde Peak, then down
534 to Cayuse Creek
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, State Line Trail
for an intersection with NFD 720, which
climbs out of the Clearwater River and heads west 10 miles to Fly
an intersection with NFD 715. Follow NFD 715 another 10 miles north to
Gospel Hill (6457') then another 6 miles to
intersection with NFD 320. Turn east (right) and follow NFD 320 to
Missoula Lake on the Idaho/Montana border.
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
should ride it. Very scenic and quite challenging in a few spots. Why
should not. It's long and does not add anything to the day except miles. Get to Wallace early and celebrate.
| For all others,
along 391 another 5 miles until it becomes a road
Joe Mountain. Follow
NFD 391, now State
Line Road, several
Cross NFD 50 and continue on State
Line Road another 30 miles northeast past Quarles Peak, Crittenden Peak
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
Road (NFD 456). Turn north (right) on NFD
follow it over Moon Pass (4826') about 19 miles to 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
We recommend the Ryan Hotel
for accommodations where Donna and her staff will treat you right.
Ethanol-free gas is available at Beamis
Congrats, you are almost done. Make sure to snap a selfie with Donna at the Ryan.
Heller Simmons Divide
to Priest Lake
Wallace, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the
- almost done! Gas, food and
are not a problem on day
there are frequent highway crossings and small towns all along
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
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
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
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
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.
(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
immediately for an intersection with NFD 207 (Brown
Road). Go northwest a few miles to Brown Creek Saddle, then
few more miles to along FS 993 to
Grizzly Ridge Road (NFD 260), then to Flat Creek Saddle and
then, north of NFD 265, to Spyglass Peak Lookout (look for a
road up to the lookout on the left. The road
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
should ride it. One of the easiest challenge sections and it's the only technical trail on D9. Why
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.
Bunco Rd. (NFD 332)
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.
west out of Athol on
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
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
the second dirt road on the right and is marked with a sign that has an
anvil on it.
the heart of Ruby Ridge country and it would be best if you
get lost. That tune that keeps running through your head, the one that
you can't quite place - it's Dueling
NFD 2550 as it winds
7.5 miles up to the summit of Hoodoo
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
southern bank of the Pend Oreille to a bridge that crosses the river
north to the town of Priest River.
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
has ethanol-free gas. The Eagle's
Nest Motel is the best lodging anywhere near the end of the Tour.
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. About a
mile east of town
an intersection with East Side Road (W43) on the north (left)
of the highway. Proceed north 12 miles to an intersection with W39
(East River Road). Turn north (right) and proceed 11 miles toward
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)