|Latest smoke map from NASA|
|Jug Mountain Ranch will be hosting the first high school mountain bike|
race of the season on Saturday, the 27th. 500 riders are expected.
|Beautiful scene from Ponderosa State Park|
|Along the Huckleberry Trail on west side of the peninsula|
|Huck surveys the scene at Osprey Point in Ponderosa Park|
|Jim Giuffre on 20 Mile Trail|
|Steve on 20 Mile Trail|
|Bear Grass on the way to Loon Lake|
|Always a happy day at Loon Lake|
It sure is nice to see a more moderate weather forecast for temperatures in the 80s next week (highs of 70s in the mountains) and hopefully less-smoky skies with some wind to blow the valley clear. Many thanks to the firefighters working hard on the 81,450-acre Pioneer Fire.
The great folks at the Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association (CIMBA) are hosting another Mountain Bike Festival in McCall on Aug. 27-28, so I'm giving folks a week's notice to plan to visit the McCall area for a wonderful weekend of biking! Bring your SUPs or preferred watercraft and double-dip!
CIMBA is serving up group rides on Saturday and Sunday, bike demos during the weekend, and BBQ, beer and music on Saturday night! Free shuttles will be running Sunday for riding the Goose Creek Loop, a challenging 14-mile ride. Meet at Depot Park at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to sign waivers and load bikes. Rigs leave at 10 a.m. JMR is hosting the first Idaho high school mountain bike race of the season on Saturday, the 27th called the Jug Jamboree. They are expecting 500 racers to participate.
On Saturday, group rides include the Payette Rim Trail, an awesome ride close to town, East Fork of Lake Fork Trail, an excellent ride in a higher-elevation setting, a 10-mile ride on McCall Pathways and the North Valley Trail south of McCall with yours truly, and $25 discounted lift tickets for mountain biking at Brundage Mountain. On Sunday, there's the Goose Creek ride mentioned above and a group ride at Bear Basin, the premier place to take kids mountain biking in McCall. Fun for all abilities! Please watch the CIMBA web site and Facebook page for more details.
In the meantime, I'll recommend some classic McCall-area rides that people would enjoy, no matter what. As we move into September, fall weather is fabulous for riding these trails. My guide, Mountain Biking in McCall, has 40 rides in the Valley County area, including all of these rides.
- New Huckleberry Loop at Ponderosa State Park - This is my favorite before-dinner ride when I get to McCall late afternoon. It takes a little over an hour to loop around the peninsula of Ponderosa State Park on lakeshore trails on the east and west sides of the park. If you haven't tried this loop yet, you've got to do it! Start at the junction of the Pilgrim Cove Road and the park boundary. Be aware that the trail has rocks and roots as you go along, and some steep uphill and downhill pitches, so there are some challenging sections for those just learning how to ride singletrack. It's good practice, however. Rocks and roots are part of the trail experience just about everywhere in the Payette National Forest.
- Bear Basin Trails - Easiest mountain trails close to McCall for kids and families. Fun for adults too! The main trailhead is west of McCall near the top of the hill on the right-hand side on Idaho 55 before you get to the Little Ski Hill. There's a trail map at the trailhead. And most of the trails are well-marked. There are fewer rocks and roots on the Bear Basin trails than the Huckleberry Trail.
- 20 Mile Trail out and back - This is a fun singletrack that slowly descends the 20 Mile Creek drainage in the first few miles and then gets steeper and more technical as you climb toward Duck Lake and Lick Creek Summit. Ride up 20 Mile trail as long as you want, turn around and return to the trailhead. Upper Payette Lake is located across the road for a quick dip.
- Loon Lake Loop - This is a super-fun beautiful ride that I love to do whenever I have a little more time. The Loon Lake short loop, starting from the Chinook Campground trailhead, past Burgdorf Hot Springs, on the forest road to Secesh Meadows and Warren, is 10 miles long. Rated strong intermediate. Takes 2-4 hours, depending on riding speed and how long you hang out at Loon Lake for lunch. There are technical rock and root features on the trails in places.
- Bear Basin - Brundage Lookout - Elk Trail - #488 Loop - This is a longer ride, 18 miles, rated advanced. The ride features over 2,500 feet of gain to climb the Bear Basin Road up to Brundage Lookout, then down Elk Trail to a point near the bottom of Brundage, and then you go left on Growler and climb up to a shoulder of the ski mountain where Forest Road #488 takes off for 4.5 miles back to Bear Basin Road. To start, I usually park at the buck fence on Bear Basin Road next to the east trailhead for Bear Basin Trails.
Bogus Basin Hill Climb is Saturday. Are you ready?
Because of damage from the Pioneer Fire, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation officials are expecting that public access to the six yurts in the Idaho City Park n' Ski Area complex northeast of Idaho City will be closed in the winter of 2016-17. The Whistling Pines yurt was destroyed by the fire, several outhouses have burned, and some of the canvas coverings on the other yurts were damaged as well. See story by Chadd Cripe in the Statesman for more detail. Refunds are being issued thru Aug. 30, and it sounds like IDPR will not be taking any reservations this winter because of the uncertainty of the situation.
Boise rally for three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at Municipal Park. Should be fun! So great to see Kristin excel in her last Olympics ... she's GOLD all the way.