Thursday, June 2, 2011

Saturday is a good opportunity to enjoy a 28-mile gravity ride on the Weiser River Trail

The Weiser River Trail is a nonmotorized trail open to hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Weiser River Trail annual bike ride.

Washington County uses goats for weed control.

Riders on the WRT in last year's bike ride.
Hi all,

The Weiser River Trail is a real gem in Southwest Idaho. It runs for 84 miles from the New Meadows area to the city of Weiser.

If you haven't ever experienced the Weiser River Trail, there's a great opportunity on Saturday to do so. The Friends of the Weiser River Trail are hosting the 5th annual Weiser River Trail Bike Ride. You can choose from riding 28 miles from the northern-most trailhead near New Meadows to Council, or ride shorter sections of either 18 miles or 8 miles. You can sign up here.

Even the 28-mile ride should be doable for just about any ability levels because you'll get a shuttle to the start, ride 18 miles on a gradual downhill grade to the flats near Fruitvale, and ride the last 10 miles to Council along the old railroad grade. Check out the trail map for reference.

I personally have ridden the full length of the trail (I broke the 84-mile trail into two different day trips for 40+ miles each). That should be your long-term goal if you haven't done that already. The northern section of the trail from New Meadows to Council is definitely a lot of fun. Once you've ridden past the Evergreen sawmill, the trail dives downhill, winding along the upper Weiser River in a forested setting, so it's very scenic and beautiful.

The Friends of the Weiser River Trail have planked all of the river crossings for smooth travel. It's really invigorating to cruise across the river and feel the blast of cool air from the stream as you ride along the river corridor. The bridges could be slick on Saturday morning, depending on how cold it gets Friday night, so be on the watch out for that. The trail is completely set apart from U.S. 95, so you won't have to worry about riding on a busy highway.

The bike ride event costs $40, including lunch and beverages at the conclusion of the ride. You need to be in Council by 8 a.m. Saturday, so race organizers can load up the trailers and transport you and your bike to the northern trailhead near New Meadows. You might want to spend the night in Cambridge or Council Friday night so you don't have to drive up early in the a.m. Cambridge is about 2 hours from Boise, and Council is about 2.5 hours away.

BTW, Cambridge is hosting Hells Canyon Days on Friday and Saturday, so that'd be fun to check out while you're in the 'hood.

Barb McGann of the Friends group says that typically about 100 people sign up for the ride, but this year, only 60 have pre-registered so far. "Could be weather ... could be conflicting events," she said. Please register as soon as you can, however, so race organizers know how many trailers and vehicles they need to haul people and bikes to the trailhead.

My guess is it's probably the Global Weirding freaking bizarre weather we've had this spring that has messed up many weekend plans so far. But the forecast for Saturday looks fabulous (high of 78 degrees, 0 chance of precip). After a big storm Thursday, it's supposed to clear off and warm up Friday. That should make the trail ready to ride for Saturday's event. The trail has a very well-compacted sand and gravel surface ... volunteers have used a vibrating roller to harden the surface for easy spinning on a bike.

If you're busy and can't make the ride on Saturday, be sure to reserve some time later this month to check out the trail. It's best to ride the trail in the spring when everything is green. Group up with some friends, and you can set up a shuttle rig wherever you'd like to go. I have three favorite sections of the trail -- the north end from Rubicon to Council, the roadless section between Council and Cambridge, and the roadless section from Midvale to Weiser. By roadless, I mean the trail follows the Weiser River in a roadless canyon, where you can enjoy wildlife, wildflowers and the rushing river. In other sections, the trail winds along the river in large agricultural valleys. There is a detailed mile-by-mile guide to the Weiser River Trail in my guidebook, Mountain Biking in McCall.

I've been a member of the Friends of the Weiser River Trail since the beginning in 1997, and hundreds of other folks are members as well to help support the maintenance and improvement of the trail. A number of dedicated citizens in Washington and Adams county have toiled for years to turn the Weiser River Trail into a real treasure for all of us to enjoy. The bike ride on Saturday is worthwhile event just to support the cause.

Have fun!