Thursday, September 8, 2011

Try this cool road biking ride: Big Freezeout-Little Freezeout Loop in Star, Idaho

The Emmett Valley, with Squaw Butte looming in the distance
Trip map from GPS tracks (click to enlarge)
Hi all,

This week's topic is a neat road biking loop from my map, the Boise Road Cycling Guide. My mountain bike was in the shop, so I thought I'd try a road biking ride that I've been wanting to notch for some time. It's called the Big Freezeout-Little Freezeout Loop, starting and finishing in Star, Idaho.

I would recommend this ride on WEEKENDS ONLY! Idaho Highway 16 is a very busy commuter road with folks from Emmett coming and going during the week, but on the Sunday when I did the ride, the road was relatively quiet and didn't affect my experience in a negative way.

The Big Freezeout-Little Freezeout Loop is a cool ride because it's a pretty fast route without that many hills (1,039 vertical feet of gain/loss), and it's very scenic, providing an agricultural tour of dry grazing lands, and irrigated farm lands in the Emmett Valley and next to the foothills north of Star and Middleton. Another benefit is that there is almost no traffic on the roads you take in the Emmett Valley, and very little traffic on Little Freezeout heading back toward Middleton and Star.

It's really fun and relaxing to me to crank up the iTunes, cruise down the road and let the road bike roll, while gaining some fitness along the way.

I took a helmet cam video of most of the ride to provide some feeling for the scenery along the way.

All told, the loop was 43 miles, according to my GPS. It took me about 3 hours to do the ride, on a nice carbon fiber road bike I demo'd from Idaho Mountain Touring. I'm in the market for a road bike, so I've been sampling various kinds to find the right fit. This particular bike wasn't geared well for steep climbs such as riding to Bogus or the Cartwright loops because it has only two chain rings on the front crank, but it was very well suited for the Freezeout-Little Freezeout Ride.

Directions: (see map for macro view)
  • Start/finish: I parked at Star Elementary, north of Idaho 44 on Star Road.
  • Go north on Star Road from the school, turn right on Floating Feather, and then left on Pollard Lane. Pollard merges with Idaho 16 in a few miles north of Star.
  • Take Idaho 16 north to Emmett for about 10 miles. You'll pass by Firebird Raceway on the left and cross over Freezeout Pass.
  • As you scream downhill into the Emmett Valley, watch for Cherry Lane and turn left.
  • Take Cherry Lane a few blocks, turn left on Substation Road, then right on Sales Yard Road. Sales Yard beelines across the valley, passing by the Emmett Airport and what appeared to be a par-3 golf course.
  • Turn left on Star Lane, which eventually merges with South Slope Road. Follow South Slope tucked up against the foothills and enjoy the winding road until it intersects with Little Freezeout after a small climb. You also can access South Slope Road via Mill Road.
  • Go left on Little Freezeout. There's a fairly short but steep climb to the top of Little Freezeout. Then it's a very gradual downhill back into the Treasure Valley.
  • In about five miles, watch for Goodson Road on the left. Ride that to Middleton Road and turn right. From here, you can ride into Middleton if you need to replenish your water supplies (I did), and then take Foothills Road to Star or Idaho 44 to Star. I rode 44, which has a good shoulder, and I was ready to finish the ride.
  • It was about 6-7 miles to Star from Middleton, and then you turn left on Star Road to return to the elementary school.
There you have it!

The Boise Road Cycling Guide, a two-sided waterproof and tear-proof color map, features 30+ rides in the north and south sides of the Boise Valley. It also has a number of a la carte rides located in Canyon County and SW Idaho. The Big Freezeout-Little Freezeout Loop is one of them. A couple of others you might try this fall include the Lake Lowell Loop, Snake River Canyon Scenic Loop (tie in the ride with a wine tour if you can) or the Big Ride -- a 150-mile jaunt from Boise to Lowman to Banks to Boise. That's a whopper.

FYI - Idaho Parks & Recreation is hosting an annual volunteer work day at the Idaho City Park n' Ski yurts on Saturday. Join Leo Hennessy from IDPR for a day of fresh air, hard work and fun preparing the yurts and trails for fall and winter. Volunteers will help mark the trails, haul wood and landscape. Volunteers can camp free at the Beaver Creek Cabin campground on Friday and Saturday, or just come up for the work day. If you want to carpool, meet at 7:30 am on Saturday in the parking lot adjacent to Highway 21 at the entrance to Sandy Point State Park for an informal car pool to the staging area, the Beaver Creek Cabin. The cabin is located about 19 miles north of Idaho City and 1 mile off Highway 21 on the Beaver Creek Cabin Road. The turnoff from Hwy 21 is between mile marker 57 & 58. Dress for cool weather and bring water, gloves, and lunch. All other tools will be provided.

If you would like to participate, email Judy Ditto at: . Include your name, email, number of people in your party, and if you plan to meet the carpool.

Leo Hennessy will be leading the volunteer work day, and there will be a fun evening by the campfire Saturday night to swap stories about summer outdoor outings. Here's your chance to hear about Leo's "3-hour tours" that became epic adventures ...

Have fun!
- SS

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