|"Bingo's Trail" has a number of rock hoodoos along the way|
|You might see wild horses in the Wilson Creek area.|
|Approaching Reynolds Creek canyon|
|China Ditch Trail|
I've been stoked about going mountain biking this spring, so I headed out into the Wilson Creek area in the front side of the Owyhees last weekend to check on the conditions. Much to our delight, the trails were dry and ready to ride. We saw a number of mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders out there, so we weren't the only ones with spring fever.
The weather this weekend looks equally fine for mountain biking in the Owyhees. Sunday looks wonderful with temperatures almost hitting 60! Low-elevation trails in the Boise Foothills are starting dry out, too. Check the latest conditions on the Ridge to Rivers web site. With temperatures in the 60s next week, people will be swarming in the foothills. Not so in the Owyhees.
My friend Paul Hilding and I rode a loop in Wilson Creek that he's been riding with some mountain biking buddies of mine for several years. We followed the Google Earth GPS tracks of Doug Lawrence, and with the aid of a BLM map with the trail and road numbers on it, we had a successful ride. I checked with Chris Cook, who's spent a lot of time in the Owyhees GPS'ing trails, and the route we rode is called "Northwest Passage," combined with "Bingo's Trail" and the "China Ditch Trail." All told, it was a 16.2-mile ride with a little over 2,000 vertical feet of climbing and descending. It took us about 4 hours to complete the loop. We made quite a few stops for snacks and photos.
(Here is the live audio about this trip on 94.9 FM The River. Steve talks about his outdoor tips each Friday with Ken and Tim at about 7:10 a.m.)
We will be including this loop in the forthcoming guidebook on the Owyhee Canyonlands that I'm working on with photographer Mark Lisk. But I'll provide all the details here for a successful ride.
I would rate this ride "advanced" and "strenuous" because of the distance, technical challenges and endurance needed to complete the ride. I'll describe a route for intermediate riders below.
Hilding loves the ride. "I think it's my favorite loop of all the riding I've done in Idaho so far," says the former San Diego resident. "I really like the fact that the loop is nearly all singletrack, and it's really scenic, especially with the hoodoos on Bingo's Trail, and then the awesome canyon in Reynolds Creek and China Ditch Trail. It's a pretty killer ride."
|The Northwest Passage loop is highlighted in red ... ride it counter-clockwise (click to enlarge).|
To begin, peel out of the parking lot and pick up BLM Road 37131 and head west next to some giant powerlines.
|Here's Steve with his pointer Huck on the Wilson Creek ride.|
Trail #300 comes to an end on BLM Road #37154. Go right and climb the road. Veer right on Trail #500 when you see that emerge on the left side of the road. Follow Trail #500 to #510 and climb over to Reynolds Creek Canyon. Bear left on Trail #600 in Reynolds Creek and follow the China Ditch Trail along the creek. Great spot for lunch and photos. After a mile on the China Ditch Trail, veer left on Trail #310. Take #310 to BLM Road #37154, go left for a short distance, then right on Trail #300 and return to the trailhead. This route is about 7.5 miles long. It's very similar to the Reynolds Creek Loop described in my book, the Boise Trail Guide.
There you have it! Thanks to Chris Cook, Dan Meeker and Dave Beck for pioneering "Northwest Passage!"
There's a longer ride with more vertical gain in my guidebook book Mountain Biking Idaho called the "Wilson Creek-Mini Moab Loop." That ride climbs the Wilson Creek road to the top of Wilson Butte, and then takes a topsy-turvy rocky two-track back down the mountain over towards Reynolds Creek. It's possible to mix in a side trip to the China Ditch Trail on the way back.