TR - Idaho-Montana stoke (pic heavy, ID-MT X-post)
I've seen many complaints about too little stoke in this forum recently, so here you all go.....
Three of us made a week+ long trip from San diego recently to get some high elevation riding in before the snow flies. Destination this trip would be 4 days in Stanley ID and 4 days in Montana. Fortunate timing allowed us to escape last week's brutal heat and humidity from what was left of the Baja Calif hurricanes. Being on vacation is awesome enough, but being able to rub our perfect temps in the face of everyone sweltering back home was priceless.
After flying to ride the Chilcotins earlier this summer we opted to fly again and rent a truck to avoid the 15hr drive. This would mean traveling light and no camping comfort gear like chairs, cooler, water jug, cooking equipment, or full tools/bike stand. Turned out this was not a big deal and gave us extra days riding without having to drive through the night.
After a late start due to freezing temps overnight we started day 1 with an intro loop to the Boulder-Whiteclouds.
Brian (406) and Gil (Gman) check out the trailhead map
Our route would start with a 2 mile climb to 4th of July Lake and then descend down a valley to the Washington Lakes basin seen here
From there the climbing began and views opened up
When I got to the top of this pass my jaw dropped. The white streak down the opposite mountain was brilliant white, the pic does really not do it justice. This is looking down into the Chaimberlain Lakes basin.
While we were snacking a visitor showed up, came within 20ft of us
Finishing our break we enjoyed the drop into the basin
At first I thought this was one of the lower Chamberlain Lakes but those were tucked in closer to the bottom of the peak
We checked out the first Chamberlain lake and then started an out and back climb to 10,000ft Castle Pass
Views were not bad looking down toward Germania creek drainage
Dropping beyond the pass was incredibly enticing with switchbacks dropping as far as the eye can see, but would mean a 1,500ft climb back up. Gil rode down the first switchback before stopping.
I hiked up a small ridge to get a better view of the mountains to the left of us, which was definitely worth it.
It was a fun drop down from Castle pass
Chamberlain Creek Tr was little used compared to the Castle Divide trail we'd been on. Through a couple open meadows the trail nearly disappeared.
It was steep in many spots, I would not want to ride up this trail!
Hmm, what is this laying on the trail?
We made it down to Germania creek after a longer than expected descent. Germania is a moto trail so we expected to cover distance faster. We did, with a few fun rock sections thrown in
It was either wet shoes or barefoot for creek crossings.
And finally there was a beast of a climb out from 7,000 to 9,500 at 4th of July Lake
Views were excellent again on the climb especially being in the golden hour, so I did not mind too much.
Last came a 2 mile happy ending back to the truck that ended right at dusk, so timing was pretty tight. It turned out to be more than we had bargained for at +/-6,100 ft in 28 miles, but was still a great ride. Things cooled off fast again in the evening and we were looking for hot springs near town. Never found them in the dark unfortunately, but they are all over this area. Great start to the trip!
Now that's what this forum should be about. Nice work!
Amazing. Beautiful shots.
"...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."
Day 2 - Little Casino to Big Casino Creek Trails
Another cold morning, another late start. The Stanley Bakery is always recommended for great food served and attractive hippy chicks, but we could not get near the place because there were two large weddings in town. We made up for that loss by searching out a couple of the hot springs we had missed the night before. Rising steam made them easy to spot in daylight.
Our camp was just above the shore of Stanley Lake
Hot springs with a view. Would have been epic for sunset but unfortunately this one was little more than luke warm
Better luck here along the highway. Scalding water can be directed right into the pools or the cauldron
Having sorted out our post ride options we drove a few miles up Hwy 75 to the trailhead. Both upper and lower Casino Creek trails leave from the same trailhead making a convenient loop
The climb up Little Casino started nice, got tough/loose for 3/4 mi and then was nice until we approached the final ridgeline. After the first tough part a nice view of the Sawtooth mountains opened up
The final couple miles had some steep HAB. Each of these are moto trails so they go straight up the nose of the ridge. Gets us up high faster, at least. And stopping to rest gave relief in the form of amazing views.
Nearly at the top we spot Casino Lakes below and get a peak at the White Cloud peaks in the distance
White clouds, tough to get a good pic of they are so white
Up top we get a bit of riding before the descent starts
And then it is on. Fun, chunky, yet flowy
The trail had lots of whoops in between all the chunk, almost like A-line for xc bikes. Sorry, enduro bikes.
Dust picks up lower down so we had to spread out
Post ride soak and refreshments were enjoyed
More visitors. We were not the only one enjoying the warm waters!
This ride was 20miles and +/- 4,100 feet. It felt less than that since most was good climbing and the rest of the HAB went pretty quick. Definitely a good one, and you can also connect from 4th of July trailhead from Day 1 to these trails for a long point to point.
Thanks for the trip idea for next year. Spent a week in Missoula and had a blast. Now I will have a blast getting there
Good stuff, Evdog.
And your'e right......this local is jealous!
Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.
Day 3 - 4th of July Ants Basin to Fisher Creek
We finally got in the Stanley Bakery for breakfast this day and it lived up to the hype. Temps were a bit warmer too, so things were definitely on the up and up. Many options for routes were on the table but getting into some of the areas I wanted to check out involved big point to point rides. Not able to shuttle this meant shortening the routes and doing some road riding. 4 miles of flat pavement and a 2k fire road climb over 10 miles wasn't bad, and it got us to what I think was my favorite ride of the trip.
We would end on the legendary Fisher Creek trail, which is actually called Williams Creek Tr (the fire road to get to it is Fisher)
The pavement was a breeze and we were soon onto the dirt road. It went from sage to nice forest, to burnt valley. The turning trees made for some great scenery and the climb was not bad at all, except for 1/2mi near the top. Took around 90min to get to the singletrack. Same as it would have taken to shuttle, so whatever.
We started off with the same climb to 4th of July Lake as we did on Day1. This time we turned L just before the lake and did some hike a bike up to a high ridgeline
We were greeted with a mind-popping view of Ants basin on the other side
Check out the bend
There was a fun descent off the ridgeline into Ants basin
But watch your speed, the switchbacks were sharp and steep
Lower down they got real loose too, which made it hard as the views were trying their best to draw your eyes off the trail
A bit of easy cruising toward Born Lakes
Then the riding got tougher with some nice chunk and steep climbs/descents
Some maps show the trail going straight north in the basin but the route you want is to go straight to Born lakes and pick up the trail near its outlet down Warm Spring Cr
The trail from there was a great mix of rough and buff
More color down the canyon
There were a few steep climbs to get above cliffs over the creek
And more nice colors as we rode through a burn area
Looking back up the valley
Nearing the end of our ride on Warm Springs trail we enter the big meadow
The creek is looking quite fishy here, but I forgot my packable rod. GIl checks it out for fish
We had our last climb of the day up to the top of Williams Creek Trail, around 800ft in a couple miles. We were back on moto trail now (from 4th July Lake to our turnoff here was non motorized) and this one was nice and buff, easy climbing all the way up.
Then a couple more miles climbing on Williams Cr
I had pictured the whole descent being buff trail through burn area like this
But most of it actually looked more like this
After a couple of us nearly got taken out by cattle we had a bit more of a climb before the final descent. Very fast and fun trail, though I wouldn't call it the best in the area like most people seem to.
After the ride we were back to the hot springs for a soak and refreshments. Same scene as the day before, but larger snakes!
Stats were around 36mi and +/-4,700 (includes the 2k dirt road climb)
Day 4 - Big Boulder to Little Boulder
For our last day in the White Clouds we moved camp to the east side of the range. This ride had potential to take us back to Castle Pass where we topped out at 10,000ft on Day 1 if time and legs would allow. The plan was to start early as overnight temps were nice by now. Unfortunately the skies opened up unexpectedly right at our 6am wakeup, so that was abandoned as we waited out the rain. It was after 9am before it looked safe enough to head for the high country.
We start at the Livingston Mill TH, near an old mining town. Check out the Lost & Found, Idaho style
Cool history. Why can't we all just "live and let live"?
Nice stream crossing. First part of the trail was steep section followed by flat section, and repeat...
Big Boulder is rated double black on the map but climbs a lot easier on nice contour singletrack than the rating would suggest
We topped out around 9500 and then had a nice descent down to the boulder lakes basin
The Boulder Chain Lakes are tucked in behind the rocky ridges all the way back to the main ridge in the distance. Checking out these lakes was a main objective for the day
Boulder Chain Lake #1
We cross a stream to get to the main boulder chain lakes trail
Riding next to Lake #3. Took a bit of HAB to get up to this one
Pic of the lake
Trail splits with a low option for fisherman and high option to get to the next lake
Lake #4. I lost the trail here, it goes into a boulder field. Supposedly you can HAB to the last lake then up and over Windy Devil pass to Born Lake from Day 3 to create a loop. Interesting, but sounds heinous.
Lake #3 again on the way back down
I started to do a bit of fishing but soon noticed clouds rolling in fast, so we made a bee-line out of there. It was a mile and a half from the lowest of the lakes to Little Boulder Cr trail and we made quick time out of there
Fortunately rain never materialized beyond a few spits so we were able to enjoy the trail
It eventually opened up into a fast ripper of a descent, and the views opened up too as we approached the lower valley
Some of the trail was real loose and steep, you could go as fast as you could handle
Nice view down the valley toward the bottom of Germania Creek drainage
Final bit of descent
We were done at a pretty reasonable time as we faced a 5 hr drive to get to our next day's ride in Montana. Giddyup!
Stats for the day, around 19mi and +/-4500
just remember when you get back home. Idaho sucks. Please tell everyone that.
406 kept saying that, but mainly because there was no mcdonalds in Stanley for breakfast
Originally Posted by tim208
Most Excellent. Postcards galore!
Beautiful country, your post contains enough stoke to last me till Xmas.
Do much diverse trail and landscape! Love Mr Fox
Thank you for sharing your trip!
Eat your veggies
You need to really consider getting published, I think you have a writer in you.
Wow, What a great trip! Nice writeup and great photos.
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