Thursday, May 31, 2012

New version of Mountain Biking in Boise aims to please with new rides for everyone

Ride the Memorial Bench on the Mahalo Trail 
Roberto, Mark and Jim take a breather at Eagleson Summit
Zooming down Hard Guy is too much fun 
Summit of Stueby's Death March
Hi all,

Ah, mountain biking in Boise, is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I've been riding in the Boise Foothills for more than 25 years -- to date myself just a little -- and I always find it invigorating. Between the top of Shafer Butte, Stack Rock and the Boise River, we've got over 200 miles of trails to explore. We are truly blessed.

Mountain biking is one of my favorite things to do because each ride has so many benefits -- fresh air, blue sky thinking, fitness, socializing with friends, running the dog, etc. With more than a dozen trailheads to choose from between the Eagle Cycle Park and Harris Ranch at the edge of the foothills, we can hit the trails just minutes from home and go exploring. 

I rode one of my favorite loops today - I call it the "Sidewinder-Fat Tire Connector-Trail #5 Loop. This 11-mile ride became doable when Ridge to Rivers built the Fat Tire Connector Trail in 2010, a trail connects Sidewinder with the Trail #5-Trail #6 ridge to the east. That trail opens up a lot of new opportunities that didn't exist before. And it was built with Fat Tire Festival beer money. How about that! Here's some video.

You start at Camelsback Park, ride up to Crestline via Kestrel, climb Crestline to Sidewinder and take that to the top, and then cruise over to Trail #5 via the Fat Tire Connector. From there, it's a fun zoom down the ridge to Military Reserve, and then back to Camelsback via the Military Reserve connector.

A cool variation on that loop, adding another 600 vertical feet of climbing, is to climb go left and climb Trail #5 from the Fat Tire Connector to Trail #6, climb some more to the Trail #4 junction, and then take Trail #4 back to Sidewinder. This ride is a pleasant variation to what I call "Stueby's Death March" in my guidebook, Mountain Biking in Boise. It's much more pleasant because the old route involved climbing Trail #5 up the backbone of a steep ridge through deep sand. Fat Tire Connector allows you to avoid that nasty climb, and still reach the upper part of Trail #5.

My friends Glenn Oakley, Mark Lisk and I used to do Stueby's Death March all the time. Glenn compared it to Bataan Death March, which is probably where the ride got its name. We dreaded the climb especially in the heat of July, but the ride always told me what kind of shape I was in, and it felt like a great accomplishment later. Now I do the same ride frequently except I go up there via Sidewinder and Fat Tire Traverse.

This variation on Stueby's Death March is one of 65 rides in my latest version of Mountain Biking in Boise. This brand new 6th edition is hot off the press. The 184-page book contains all of the favorite rides in t12he Boise Foothills such as Watchman and Far Tire Traverse, all of the popular rides near Bogus Basin such as Freddy's Stack Rock Trail, Mahalo, and Eastside, a number of rides out at Avimor and in the Eagle Foothills, and much more.

My guidebook complements the Ridge to Rivers maps by providing mileage, distance, travel time, and many, many variations on typical mountain bike loops.

Here are several other rides from the book that you'll enjoy:

  • Deer Point Trail - Mahalo - Boise Ridge Road Loop. Distance: 12.6 miles. Travel time: 2.5-3 hours. 2,590 feet of vertical gain/loss. Difficulty: Advanced. Strong intermediate riders should be able to complete the ride by taking plenty of rest stops, as needed. Drive to the Bogus Basin parking lot. Ride Deer Point Trail #91 to the Sidewinder saddle. Turn right and ride over to Deer Point and a gate by the Boise Ridge Road. Go left on the ridge road and cruise downhill to Forest Road #275C on the left. Go left, go over the gate, and watch for the beginning of Mahalo Trail on your right. Mahalo is a fun singletrack built by SWIMBA in coordination with the Boise National Forest. The trail is all singletrack, winding through the forest for about 4 miles in some tight switchbacks, roots, rocks and various obstacles, plus some smooth and fast trail. Once at the ridge road, turn right and head back to Bogus and ride Deer Point downhill to the parking lot. One variation that strong riders do is finish this ride by going down the Dry Creek Trail after completing the Mahalo Loop
  • Chris' favorite lunch ride. Distance: 9.1 miles. Advanced. Travel time: 1 to 1.5 hours. This one was contributed by Chris Haunold, owner of Idaho Mountain Touring. If he's got a little over an hour, this is the ride he likes to do to get a good workout in the footies. From Camelsback Park, he rides up Red Fox and Chickadee Ridge Trails to Hulls Gulch, then he climbs Hulls to the Crestline junction, takes Crestline downhill to Sidewinder, and climbs to Sidewinder Summit, and takes Trail #4 back down to Crestline, and takes Red Cliffs and Owls Roost back to Camelsback. That's a good, quick workout with 1,277 vertical feet of climbing and descent.
  • Do you feel like king of the mountain? Are you feeling strong and eager for a challenge? Try Tom Patek's 3-hour Tour. This is more like a full-day ride for me. 26.8 miles. 6,843 feet of climbing/descent. Start at Camelsback. Ride Red Fox and Hulls uphill to the motorcycle parking lot. Climb Corral's Backwards. Climb Scott's Trail to 8th Street. Take 8th Street to Eagleson Summit. Go downhill to the Dry Creek turnoff, and ride Dry Creek downhill toward Bogus Basin Road. At the Dry Creek junction with Hard Guy, climb over to Hard Guy, descend to the Corrals Trail, and ride to Corrals Summit, and downhill over to motorcycle parking lot and downhill on Hulls back to Camelsback. I swear, anyone who can clock that ride in 3 hours is super-human. 
  • How about something a little easier? Try Leo Hennessy's Howling Coyote Ride from Quail Ridge to Polecat Gulch. Distance: 11 miles. Travel time: 1.5 hours. 2,050 feet of climbing/descent. Strong intermediate to advanced. From Hill Road, climb to the top of the Quail Ridge subdivision, go to the water tank, climb over the step-over, and take the ridge north over to Polecat Gulch trails. Drop over to Quick Draw, climb to the Polecat Ridge, and climb the Polecat Loop trail to Doe Ridge. Descend Polecat Loop trail to the Polecat Gulch area, and then climb back to the ride leading to Quail Ridge to finish the ride. 
  • Here's a fun intermediate ride - Jumpin' Jeepers Figure 8 Loop. Distance: 6.75 miles. 1+ hours travel time. Start/Finish in Military Reserve Park. Climb the Toll Road Trail to Central Ridge to Shane's Junction. Climb to Shane's Summit and complete Shane's Loop. Take Bucktail downhill back to Military Reservoir Park. This is a super fun descent on Bucktail. Finish along Freestone Creek or Central Ridge trail back to the trailhead. I call it Jumpin' Jeepers because of the potential of getting spooked from gunfire at the police firing range when you're on Bucktail or descending to Freestone Creek. But it's a fun and fast ride.
Well, there's a little bit of sneak peek at the new book. You'll still see Ian Fitzgerald of Eagle flying through the air at the Eagle Cycle Park on the book cover.

The rides in Mountain Biking in Boise  (detailed descriptions and trip maps) also are available for 99 cents at and the entire book is available in full color as an ebook. The hard-copy guidebook retails for $14.95. 

In my experience, a lot of people ride the same trails over and over again. But diversity is the spice of life, right? With 65 rides, there are enough ideas in Mountain Biking in Boise to keep you busy for several years. 

Have fun! 
- SS

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