2 Dirtbags dualsport Idaho

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eastbay Dirtbag, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    aka The Tour de Tater
    aka Running from The Man
    A 2,500 mile mostly off-road tour through the mountains, canyons, deserts and high plains of the Tater State, plus a little Montana and Washington. We liked it so much that afterward we moved here. We did this ride in late 2007.

    Idaho has incredible variety. Most of it is beautiful, wild and rugged. There are few paved roads. It is a dualsporter's heaven. But, services are few and far between so it requires some planning.

    TRACKS
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/2-dirtbags-dualsport-idaho-2007.1349883/

    The cast of characters: yours truly on a Suzuki DRZ400S and Moragabiker on a KTM 525 EXC. I suppose one of these days we should update our ADV names to reflect our new location.
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    another view
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    Day 0 Home (at the time) to Meridian ID, 630 miles
    We loaded the bikes into our pickup and drove to a suburb of Boise, where we left our truck with relatives. If you don't happen to have accommodating friends or relatives nearby, we suggest leaving your vehicle at a RV storage lot. There are plenty in the area and cost about $60 per month for covered storage. Save your knobbies for the fun part.

    Day 1 Meridian to Mountain Home ID, 156 miles
    We headed southwest past Snake River farmland into the desert mountains near the Oregon border. This is a former mining area and is popular with ATVer's.

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    The road appeared to dead end into private land, but skirted it and turned into a rough two-track with face-slappers. Are we lost already?


    We crossed over a mountaintop, enjoying the vistas then descended into Silver City, which had some of the richest mines in the West.
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    Many original buildings remain and are worth the visit.[​IMG]

    The church is still used. A wedding party was just arriving. We crashed the wedding, dusty boots and all. Just kidding.

    Although it was hot and dry, we're told the town receives deep snow in the winter and only has one year-round resident.[​IMG]

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    The rustic Idaho Hotel and Bar is still in business and also serves food.
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    #1
  2. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    It was a long descent out of the mountains and into the desert with views of a deep river canyon.
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    We swung through a few small communities along the Snake River and past C.J. Strike Dam (which has a campground) before cutting across high plains to Mountain Home, which has all the amenities a hungry, thirsty and tired dualsporter might need. :freaky
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    #2
  3. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 2 – Mountain Home to Stanley ID, 195 miles
    We headed north, crossed the Oregon Trail (which would be an interesting ride someday), and followed the route miners used to reach the goldfields near Featherville and Atlanta.
    Watch for slow moving traffic.
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    Anderson Ranch Reservoir is created from one of the forks of the Boise River.
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    There is no security here so there must not be any fear of terrorists. Uncle Sam probably figures terrorists can't find Idaho anyway…:lol3
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    The road winds around the shore for miles.
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    No guardrails anywhere here, so watch out for Ma and Pa Kettle coming around the blind corners in your lane.
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    Gas and food are available in Pine. There is a café in Featherville. There are hot springs too.

    Heading toward gold country. There’s also great dirtbiking in these mountains.:ricky
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    #3
  4. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Every good dualsport ride should have a few surprises. It makes route-finding more interesting.:scratch
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    Those miners were some tough cookies because this is rugged country.
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    All roads lead to Idaho City, but we’re not going that way.
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    More slow moving traffic, and this one has a bizarre appetite[​IMG]

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    #4
  5. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    We connected to SR21 and dropped into the South Fork Payette River valley to Lowman, which has food/cabins at the South Fork Lodge. Gas/food/cabins are available 4 miles east of FR24 at Haven Hot Springs.

    Then we headed north and back into the forest.
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    Bear Valley meadows. Ever so lovely.:nod
    [​IMG]Surprisingly, this area was part of the cattlemen vs sheep herder range wars.
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    There had been huge fires in this area.
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    We zipped out of the forest and into Stanley, which has gas, food, lodging and a grocery store. We found a cozy cabin but I can'’t recall the name. It’s on the south side of SR21 as you enter town. The best restaurant is across from the Post Office. :thumbup
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    #5
  6. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    Nice riding you have there :thumb

    :lurk
    #6
  7. Kodanja

    Kodanja Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    739
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    :lurk Looking forward to this one....I need to do some Idaho back roads. Please keep us informed on the road conditions for bigger bikes.
    #7
  8. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 3 – Stanley to McCall ID, 254 miles
    The Mountain View Inn at the junction of 21 and 75 serves a decent breakfast and has a nice mountain lodge look with old photos on the walls.

    One of the locals hoping for some leftover pancakes.
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    Stanley is at the base of the majestic Sawtooths and a popular camping, hiking and whitewater rafting area. It’s also one of the coldest places in the US all year. :vardy
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    There is some great dirtbiking south of here near Squaw Creek Inn. But we're heading east. There are hot springs along the Salmon River.
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    We turned north at Sunbeam, and headed to the ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. There are abandoned buildings, a couple cemeteries, a historical park and a gold dredge that can be toured. Definitely worth a visit.
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    #8
  9. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    [​IMG]We continued north deeper into the mountains.
    .. . and turned off onto this road. Can'’t see the road? It’s disguised as part of the riverbed. We had trouble believing this was it even though it was marked. :confused[​IMG]

    It crossed the creek and climbed to old mines.
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    There was a cabin in the area that looked occupied. With the high cost of gold, some people are re-working the old tailing piles.
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    Watch your footing. The trail became too steep and rocky. Fortunately we were heading down on the ridge to the left.
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    There is a huge operating mine nearby. They’'ve moved half the mountain. The scale has to be seen to be appreciated.
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    Obviously there's still gold in them thar hills.[​IMG]

    A big chunk of central Idaho is The Frank Church Wilderness with a capital W. That means vehicles are prohibited. There is a dirt road “corridor” which provides access, but vehicles cannot leave the corridor.
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    #9
  10. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Trailhead facilities: everything you need and nothing you don'’t.[​IMG]

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    There was a small lodge located on the corridor but services appeared to be for guests only. There was also a small ranger station but no one was in.
    Next came my favorite part of the day.:ricky

    The road climbed to a ridgeline.[​IMG]


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    Look closely, there's an old lookout on the top of the mountain.
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    It felt like being on top of the world. :clap The views were stunning but unfortunately smoke from forest fires created a brown haze.[​IMG]


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    Fires have taken their toll.
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    #10
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    The road becomes narrow and has blind curves. I almost became a hood ornament on the only vehicle we had seen since leaving Bonanza.[​IMG]

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    [​IMG]Our intended route was north to Yellow Pine but it was closed due to fires. :cry
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    The descent towards SR21 was a fun stretch, like a dirt rollercoaster. We hopped on it westbound a short distance and then backtracked through Bear Valley.
    We headed south to Deadwood Reservoir and tried to take the singletrack Peace Creek Trail west. After a fun start, we realized that it was suited to dirt bikes, not our loaded dual sports. It was a challenge just to get turned around.:knary
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    This was the rideable part.[​IMG]

    Deadwood Reservoir and the singletrack trail we came up.[​IMG]

    Deadwood Dam. The dam looks like its ready to fall apart. The outflow was impressive.
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    Below the dam was another dirt bike trail. Its on the left crossing the small brown bridge. Some other day; on some other bikes; with more body armor. :brow

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    The only way out without backtracking was south to FR24.

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    See the wooden stake on the side of the road? The edge of the road had collapsed and was just wide enough for a vehicle. That wooden stake is the only thing keeping Jethro's pickup truck, camping trailer, wife, kids, grandma and family dog from plunging off the road into the canyon. I call it an Idaho guardrail.
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    We followed paved FR24 west along the South Fork Payette River to SR55 north, which follows the North Fork through some scenic canyons. At Smith's Ferry, loggers used to impound logs until the spring thaw. [​IMG]

    At the time, a large ski resort named Tamarack was under construction and motels were filled for miles around. The resort has since gone bust, taking lots of nearby businesses with it.

    We tried five different hotels in Cascade, Donnelly and McCall. This fox dashed across the parking lot in Donnelly, which at least made this stop worthwhile. [​IMG]
    We finally found a room at the AmericInn Motel (now Best Western). Wow, what a day. We're back on track, we think.
    #11
  12. gasit4fun

    gasit4fun Adventurer

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    :clap
    #12
  13. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 4 McCall to Grangeville ID, 157 miles
    If you like pancakes, the Pancake House in McCall will fit the bill.[​IMG]
    We headed north along Payette Lake toward Burgdorf.
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    Beyond Upper Payette Lake we were forced to turn around due to more fire closures. (We have since ridden the road from Burgdorf to Riggins and it is awesome!)

    The only alternative was US 95 north through Riggins, which is popular for rafting on the Salmon River. Otherwise it is damn hot.
    In Riggins we headed west into the forest. I came around a corner and spooked a bear chewing on some roadside garbage but couldn't get a photo.[​IMG]
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    We could see flames and smoke from a nearby forest fire.[​IMG]

    This trail started out innocently enough but soon turned into a steep, rutted two-track heading into Hells Canyon, so we turned around.

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    Hells Canyon to the west. Later in the trip we'll be on the other side.

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    #13
  14. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    We continued north and then dropped out of the mountains at Whitebird, where there is a bridge across the Salmon River. (There is supposedly a café in Whitebird but we didn’'t stop.)[​IMG]

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    Whitebird was the site of a large battle between the US army and Nezperce Indians. The old highway switchbacks up the Whitebird Grade in the background. It is barely visible in this photo. We didn’'t know about it at the time. It would have been more interesting than the new highway grade.:deal
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    We continued across high plains past cattle ranches to Grangeville. It is a tidy town with all the amenities. We stopped at the Ranger Station to get the lowdown on the fire situation. Because things were changing rapidly, their response was “try it, but it might be closed when you get there”.:shog

    We found a room at an older motel within walking distance of downtown in a quiet neighborhood. We had good Mexican food for dinner, also within walking distance.
    #14
  15. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 5 Grangeville to Pierce ID, 145 miles
    We walked downtown to a café for breakfast then headed east on SR14.

    This was a beautiful stretch along the S Fork of the Clearwater River. [​IMG]

    There was virtually no traffic because the pavement ends in Elk City, which has gas, a c-store and restaurant. The locals are very friendly and willing to lend a paw when needed.:D
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    We headed northwest into the Clearwater Mountains and spooked a real bear in the road just outside of town.

    The trees in the area had moss (?) hanging in them similar to Spanish moss seen in Florida.
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    We had the road to ourselves. Actually that was true almost the entire trip when we were off pavement.
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    Crossed the Selway River.
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    #15
  16. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Stopped in Lowell for lunch at the junction with the Lochsa River.
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    Near Lowell we picked up an ATV trail system and followed it for miles navigating by GPS. :ricky
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    We finally dropped into Pierce. It was the site of the first gold discovery in Idaho. Its a sleepy little place now but has gas, cabins, a couple restaurants/saloons and a laundromat.

    We got a cozy cabin with a kitchenette. The owner was very friendly and even provided slices of home baked bread.:thumbup
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    That covers everything on my shopping list. :lol3
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    We had pizza in one of the saloons, which also sold gold dredging equipment. We entertained ourselves while doing laundry that night by standing in the main road, since there was no traffic to disturb us. :jive
    #16
  17. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 6 - Pierce ID to Superior MT, 164 miles
    We headed back into the forest and picked up the Lolo Trail.[​IMG]

    This was the route followed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.[​IMG]

    It starts off as an ordinary gravel road but eventually turns into an incredibly scenic dirt roller coaster ride with fabulous views, rocky stretches, narrow sections and interesting historical signs.[​IMG]

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    A historical sign protected from the threatening forest fire.[​IMG]

    A not-so-historical sign. What to do about the fires? Keep moving!!!
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    #17
  18. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    There are no services for its entire length. Even after you exit the trail, it is still a long way from anywhere. Bring plenty of gas.
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    #18
  19. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    We split from the trail and continued north through the forest.[​IMG]

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    [​IMG]We followed more ATV trails.:ricky[​IMG]


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    Don'’t know how this happened but it’s kind of artsy-fartsy.:bubba
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    The route crossed the Montana border and into Superior, which is located off I-90. Superior has all the basics.
    #19
  20. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 7 - Superior MT to Post Falls ID, 157 miles
    We hopped on I-90 westbound a short way before heading southwest into the forest again (and had a couple false starts before locating the correct road.) Today's route essentially paralleled I-90. We followed a combination of two-tracks and forest roads.[​IMG]

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    [​IMG]We passed the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. This was a railroad from the gold fields and has been converted to a mountain bike trail. It is famous for its tunnels and high trestles.
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    We followed a river before connecting to fast, dusty forest roads. There was a surprising amount of traffic here. It is popular because of the Hiawatha Trail and nearby ATV'ing and dirt biking trails.[​IMG]

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    We stopped in Wallace ID for lunch. It is an interesting historical mining town filled with old buildings converted to stores and restaurants. Unfortunately I-90 literally runs over the town, spoiling some of the nifty old ambiance. This area deserves more exploring some day.[​IMG]

    They have a sense of humor in Wallace.[​IMG]
    We took I-90 west into Post Falls near Coeur D'Alene because the KTM had a routine service appointment the next day.
    #20