|Gregg Lawley riding the Bear Basin Trails.|
|Wendy in the lower end of the Payette Rim Trail ... tall grass and singletrack. Yum.|
|Morgan Hine cruises along on the Loon Lake singletrack|
|Loon Lake - Perfect spot for a lunch break half way through the ride.|
|Elk Trail! Brundage Mountain Resort|
|Cool viewpoint off the Payette Rim Trail.|
|Bonus shot: Flowers galore on Bear Pete Trail ... try it sometime|
My guidebook Mountain Biking in McCall has been super-popular lately, particularly in the McCall market, where it's flying off the shelf. I recently ran out of books in early July and had to quickly reprint to satisfy the demand.
I did update the Bear Basin and Payette Rim Trail descriptions to reflect a few changes/additions that have occurred lately, and otherwise, there are 41 mountain bike rides in the book, and all of them are absolutely SWEET! IMHO.
This week, I'll recommend six must-do rides from the book for different abilities, starting with easy trails and moving up to expert rides. After you're done riding, be sure to take a dip in Payette Lake and cool off. There are several public beaches on the south side of the lake, and also at North Beach on the north end. The lake is a great temperature right now, totally refreshing but not too cold.
1. North Valley Rail-Trail - Location: South of McCall, starting from River Ranch on Mission Street, near the Forest Service Smokejumper Base. You also can start from downtown McCall, and pick up the paved trail heading south to the airport by McCall City Hall or McCall-Donnelly High School. The North Valley Trail is 3.5 miles long, and if combined with the paved trail, it's 5 miles out and back, or 10 miles total. Check out this YouTube video of yours truly riding the trail with my son. The trail is also a great place to hike and run. Great for families and all abilities.
2. Ponderosa State Park - Ride the gravel Fox Run Trail and then the Huckleberry Trail through thick woods up to the Osprey Point Overlook. It's a 7-mile loop from the park entrance. Fox Run features a moderate climb, and then a fast downhill to the Huckleberry junction. Gear down to your small ring and spin through the woods over rocks and roots, and climb a steep series of switchbacks to the main gravel road, and then climb up to Osprey Point for a great viewpoint and a well-deserved breather. BTW, there is no park entrance fee if you ride to the park on a bike from wherever you are staying.
3. Payette Rim Trail - The Rim trail is a longtime favorite ride in the McCall area. It's a 10-mile ride that takes about 1.5-2 hours. 1,000 feet of climbing. Three years ago, logging on Idaho State Lands really tore up the trail. But locals and CIMBA have re-routed the singletrack around the logging disruption, and the trail now takes you all the way down to the corrals by Bear Basin, creating the possibility of riding the rim trail and then making a loop around the Bear Basin Trails to add another 5+ miles to the ride. Thanks to McCall mountain bikers for the awesome re-route!
4. Eagle's Nest Trail - East of Cascade off the Warm Lake Road. Distance: 13.1 miles. Advanced/expert ride. It's kind of a brutal climb up Forest Road #400 (2,800 vertical feet of climbing), but after you reach the singletrack, it's all downhill, and it's a blast. If you're hiking, start the hike on the singletrack by the big highway pullout 4 miles east of Idaho Highway 55. (This is where you park for the bike ride). You'll see the sign for Trail #111. It's 7.7 miles one-way to the jct. with Forest Road 400 at 6,650-foot elevation.
5. Loon Lake Short Loop - Location: 30+ miles north of McCall. Distance: 10 miles. Advanced intermediate ride. Drive Warren Wagon 30+ miles north of McCall, past Burgdorf Hot Springs, to Chinook Campground. The Loon Lake Loop is what I call "an Idaho classic," one of the top 10 rides in the state. I prefer to ride the loop counter-clockwise, but others prefer clockwise. The trail tread is all singletrack, with plenty of roots, rocks and steep climbs. Best-suited for advanced riders, but some strong intermediates can make it. Pack plenty of food and drink and make a fun day of it. Have lunch at the lake and go swimming. Watch out for other trail users -- it's a very popular place to go.
6. Bear Basin-Elk Trail-#488 Loop - This is one of 14 advanced/expert rides in the book. It's one of my favorite loops in McCall. It's 18.2 miles, 2,580 feet of climbing, and it takes about 3-4 hours. You ride up the Bear Basin dirt road about 7 miles to the top of Brundage Mountain Ski Area. Then you descend on Elk Trail, a super-fun singletrack that weaves across the front side of the ski area for 4+ miles, all downhill. And then, before making the final descent to the base area, you turn left on Growler, and do a moderate climb on Growler over to an unsigned junction with Forest Road #488. It's all downhill back to Bear Basin Road ... a ripping descent, not much traffic, so let 'er rip!
There you have it! Mountain Biking in McCall retails for $12.95. It's available at Gravity Sports, Hometown Sports, Ridley's Market, Paul's Market, Shore Lodge gift shop, May Hardware, The Hub and McCall Drug. It's also available at Idaho Mountain Touring, George's Cycles, Boise REI and Barnes & Noble in Boise.
You also can download six free rides/maps on my web site anytime, and individual rides from the Mountain Biking in McCall book can be purchased for 99 cents each. Or, you can purchase a hard-copy book or the full-color ebook on my web site.
There are tons of places to camp outside of McCall in the Payette National Forest. If you don't want to camp, check into lodging at the McCall Chamber of Commerce, InIdaho.com, or vrbo.com.
Here are two save-the-date items coming up in August from George's Cycles:
- Bogus Basin Hill Climb - Saturday, Aug. 17.
- George's MS Wine Ride - Aug. 25. Thirty-mile ride starts and finishes at the Sawtooth Winery. Benefit for the Idaho MS Society.
Visit the George's web site for more information.