Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Brrrrrrr! Feels like Fall! 5 rock-solid Fall Hikes Part 2

Three Fingers Rock (courtesy Summit Post) 
Hi all,

Whoa baby, the Cool North Wind was blowing like a son of a gun today, and it's got me thinking about fall hiking for the weekend.

Pulling a few of my recommendations from a program I gave tonight at Boise REI, I'm recommending five sure-fire fall hikes for my outdoor tip of the week. Consider this Fall Hikes Part 2, following the fall hiking post I did recently. In addition, there are oodles of options to choose from in my guides, the Owyhee Canyonlands - an Outdoor Adventure Guide, and Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home.

This afternoon, Wendy, Elena and I took a walk on Red Fox and Chickadee Ridge, and hiking on the elevated ridge was quite brisk! The rabbit brush was still popping bright yellow, and Huck flushed quail everywhere! Sometimes a quick outing in the super accessible Boise Foothills is a great option when you only have an hour or so.

To that end, we start with:

1. Castle Rock - Table Rock "Foothills on the Rocks" - Distance: 4.3 miles; Difficulty: moderate to strenuous; Vertical gain: 952 feet; Hiking time: 1.5 hours. Start from behind the Bishop's House by the Old State Pen, where there is public parking. Hike Trail #15 to Castle Rock Trail #19 and loop around to the top of Castle Rock. Take a moment to enjoy the view. Continue to the east on Trail #15 and climb to the top of Table Rock. Look out into the city and take a breather. Then descend on Trail #16 and #17, which wrap around the cone of Table Rock, and retrace your tracks back to the start.

2. Marianne Williams - Barber Park Loop - Distance: 3.6 miles; Difficulty: easy to moderate; Travel time: 2 hours; Start either in Bown Crossing or Barber Park. Cap off your trip with some coffee or a beer in Bown Crossing.

Mountain biking on the old Oregon Trail in east Boise 
3. Oregon Trail going out toward Bonneville Point from BLM trailhead on Idaho 21. The trailhead for this hike is just to the east of Surprise Valley off of the Idaho 21 connector to Gowen Road. It's a nice walk to take the trail to the east, climb to the top of the bluff overlooking Diversion Dam and the Boise River, and if you're super ambitious, you could hike all the way to Bonneville Point. But often, I'm just walking the dog and getting some fresh air and an easier out-and-back experience is all I do. I reserve the trip out to Bonneville Point for my mountain bike.

4. Huckleberry Trail, Ponderosa State Park - The colors are turning on "the Huck" and it's a relatively easy walk around the peninsula of Ponderosa State Park. Distance: 5 miles; Difficulty: moderate; Travel time: 2-3 hours. Trailhead is a Ponderosa State Park. If you've got a state trails pass, you can enter for free.

Bear Basin Trails would be another good choice when the snow melts in McCall this weekend, if it melts!

Photo courtesy Carolyn Dickinson of McCall
Norm Nelson takes a breather at the top of Three Fingers. 
5. Climb Three Fingers in the Owyhees - Distance: 2.4 miles; Difficulty: easy to moderate; Travel time: 1.5 hours; Vertical gain: 833 feet. The hardest part about the hike to Three Fingers is to find the trailhead, and that's not that hard. Follow directions in a previous detailed post about hiking to Three Fingers. You should allow 1.5-2 hours to get to the trailhead on the McIntyre Springs Road from Boise. Once you're there, the hike to the top is pretty quick, very kid-friendly, and you'll be amazed at the big views of the Owyhee Canyonlands from the top. You might even see some bighorn sheep.

Be aware that rifle deer hunting season has begins statewide in Idaho on Thursday, Oct. 10, so wear bright colors in your outdoor outings, and put bright colors on your pups.
- SS

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Put on the big boy pants and cap the mountain bike season with a big ride!

Jim Giuffre and Doug Lawrence heading down on the Bear Pete Trail. 
Mark and Roberto on last year's ride to Mark's cabin. 
Hi all,

It's that time of year when it's perfect conditions for fall mountain biking. Cool temperatures keep the sweat factor to a minimum. Fall colors create a beautiful backdrop while you slalom through the forest or the sagebrush. But winter weather is coming soon, so it's important to capitalize on these last sunny days in October for some epic rides.

Many of you have been riding since March or April, you're in great shape, and you're ready to do some big miles on an Idaho classic ride. That's my outdoor tip of the week -- I'm recommending some of my favorite fall Idaho classics. Put on your big boy or big girl pants and go for it!

My post this week is inspired by my plan to do the "Ride to Mark's Cabin" on Saturday, Oct. 5 with a bunch of fun people. It's a 40-mile route starting from Bogus Basin, out the Boise Ridge Road to Harris Creek saddle, down to Placerville for lunch, and then over another mountain range via Ophir Creek to drop into the South Payette via Wash Creek. Mark's cabin is at the bottom of the descent, where plenty of beer and ribs await for dinner! 

It appears we're going to have excellent weather on Saturday, with partly cloudy skies and a high temperature near 60. Sunday should be an even better day for a ride, with highs in the low 70s. 

Here are some other classics to try:

1. Around the Mountain - Eastside - Sweet Connie - Chukar Butte to Hidden Springs. Shuttle Required. I'm not sure how many miles this one is, but definitely 20+ miles. Your legs will feel cooked by the time you reach the bottom of Chukar Butte! This is one of the best downhills in the trail system! See the Boise Trails site for a map of Sweet Connie and the rest.

Nice light on Sweet Connie (courtesy MTB Project) 
2. Corrals- Hard Guy-Dry Creek Loop - This is one of my all-time favorites. It's a tough climb up Hard Guy, but it's one hoot of a good time coming down the Dry Creek trail. Rated: Advanced. Distance: 22 miles. Travel time: 4-6 hours. Tread: dirt road and mostly singletrack. Vertical gain/descent: 3,513 feet. Connect with Corrals Trail 1.8 miles up Bogus Basin Road on the right. Proceed on Corrals to the Hard Guy Jct on the left at mile 3.2. Climb Hard Guy to the Boise Ridge Road. It's five miles of strenuous granny gear climbing on singletrack, some of it sandy and super steep. Turn left on the Boise Ridge Road and ride two miles to the Dry Creek junction (mile 10.3). Descend into Dry Creek on the singletrack and enjoy the shady ride in the trees and water crossings. You'll hit Bogus Basin Road at mile 17.7. Ride the pavement back to town.
Hard Guy-Dry Creek Loop is one of the major primo rides in Boise

3. Five fall rides I recommended in a Visit Idaho post - Around the Mountain, Loon Lake, Fisher-Williams, Gold Hill in Sandpoint and the Lynx Trail in Farragut State Park, north of Coeur d'Alene. See the post for details and photos.

Mark Anderson takes in the views on the Bear Pete Trail. 
4. Bear Pete Trail, near McCall - This is great ride in fall colors. Once you get on top of Bear Pete Mountain, you're riding a singletrack at 8,000 feet and you can see forever! Everyone loves this ride because it does test you, and sometimes hike-a-bike is required! Distance: 17.5 miles. Vertical gain: 3,500 feet. Rated advanced (strenuous). Travel time: full day. Bear Pete Trail is located north of McCall via Warren Wagon Road. Past Upper Payette Lake, watch for a turnoff to Cloochman Saddle. This road takes you to the trailhead. You also should plant a vehicle at the north end of Bear Pete, north of Burgdorf Hot Springs, if you don't want to ride a long dirt road slog back to your vehicle at the trailhead. At the saddle, climb trail #142 Bear Pete and grind for a couple of miles to the ridgetop. You'll ride up and down along the high mountain ridge for several hours. There are a few junctions but stay on the main trail. On the north end, the trail plunges downhill to Forest Road #246, the road to Burgdorf Hot Springs. You made it! Bring your swimsuits and take a soak at Burgdorf after the ride! Always a good call!

Back of Beyond Three Fingers! Gorgeous scenery up-canyon! 
5. Back of Beyond Three Fingers Loop - This is still a little-known super scenic mountain bike ride in the Owyhees, near Carlton Canyon and Painted Canyon. The scenery is gorgeous -- you'll see neat canyons, hoo doos and other rock features, similar to what you see at Leslie Gulch. Distance is 22 miles. Rated strong intermediate/advanced. Tread: All two-track roads. Travel time: 3.5-5 hours. Bring plenty of water and a lunch. Getting there: Go to Succor Creek State Park, and continue south 6 miles to an unsigned dirt road on the right at the top of a grade. This is McIntyre Springs Road. Go right and follow the dirt road 3 miles to an unsigned two-track on the left. This is your trailhead. Follow the directions on the map below. The scenery is gorgeous on this ride -- you'll see neat canyons, hoo doos and other rock features. Detailed directions are in my book, the Owyhee Canyonlands - An Outdoor Adventure Guide. Bring a BLM map, topo map and a GPS for best navigation.

Map for Back of Beyond Three Fingers Loop. After
you do the ride, climb to the top of Three Fingers!

There you have it! Have a great weekend! 
- SS