Thursday, July 23, 2015

Biking at Jug Mountain Ranch, Tamarack offers super fun, diverse trails + shuttle

Steve and Wendy at Jug Mountain Ranch, with Upper Jug Reservoir
and Jughandle Mountain in the background ... 
Wendy's still smiling even after flying off her bike a couple of times ... 
Paul was stoked after riding around Upper Jug Reservoir on the new Shoreline Trail ... 
Cool boardwalk on the new Shoreline Trail. 
The super cool JMR shuttle rig ... 
Hi all,

I had a blast riding at Jug Mountain Ranch near Lake Fork last Saturday with Wendy and a couple of friends, following a spirited evening at the Huckleberry Music Festival. And then I rode the new Huckleberry Trail at Ponderosa State Park on Sunday morning with my friend Jim before having to pack up, clean the cabin and return to the Boise Valley. 

This week, my outdoor tip focuses on mountain biking in the McCall area Park II. My blog on June 11 featured the new Huckleberry Loop, Payette Rim Trail, Loon Lake Loop, Upper Drain at Bear Basin, and Berm and Ernie at Jug Mountain Ranch. 

The greater McCall area is loaded with hiking and biking trails. It's a wonderful place to be this time of year because it's always 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in Boise, and I love to ride in the cool, shady forests of the McCall area in the summer. I detailed 40+ rides in my book, Mountain Biking in McCall, so you might say that I'm somewhat smitten about riding in the Valley County area. 

This week, I'll recap a fun loop that we rode at Jug Mountain Ranch, and also touch on some mountain biking opportunities at Tamarack Resort. Remember that you also can go biking/hiking at Brundage Mountain. Lifts run on Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Lift fees are $12 for single-ride lift (hikers), $16 (for bikers), and $32 for day pass for bikers. Brundage is hosting a Family Festival on Saturday, an event geared toward young kids and season pass holders. 

Jug Mountain Ranch continues to impress with new and existing trails, shuttle service, events and general hospitality. Our group met at 10 a.m. at the clubhouse and went for a 2.5 hour ride. I didn't have my GPS on my bike, so it's hard to say how many miles we rode, but I'd guess it was over 10. 

What's great about riding at Jug is the exciting and challenging singletracks that zigzag through the forest, mixed with occasional technical features, fast descents and surprising uphills that you don't expect. When you're done, you feel like you've been worked, but you've got a big grin. 

The route we took Saturday began with a loop around the South Elk Trail, an up-and-down trail in the forest right out of the parking lot. Then, we climbed Mainline, a two-track road, to Upper Jug Reservoir, circled around the reservoir on the newly-dug Shoreline Trail, and then descended on Vandelay Trail and Harper's Hollow back to the clubhouse. 

Shoreline is still getting worked in, but it's really cool to be able to ride around the lake. It's a great addition to the trail system at JMR. 

Both Vandelay and Harper's are narrow singletracks with lots of entertaining features on the way down ... rocks, roots and assorted hazards are all in play in the forests around McCall. True mountain features. Trail-builders at JMR have incorporated those features into the flow of the trail, all to benefit the mountain bike experience. Check it out!

BTW: JMR offers Pivot long-travel bike rentals and runs a shuttle service on weekends. The shuttle cost is $20 for 4 hours. 

This is a Tamarack Classic taken by Sherri Harkin back in the day ... 
Double-diamond line at Tamarack ... 
Super G! 
Another cool place to ride in Valley County is at Tamarack Resort, which is running a shuttle service this summer on Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shuttle costs $36 for a full day and $26 for half-day. Full-on downhill bike rentals are available. Call 325-1030 to reserve a spot on the shuttle. 

The big draw at Tamarack on weekends is the ability to take the shuttle and ride Super G, an intermediate to advanced/expert mountain bike trail with high-banked corners on numerous turns, downhill for nearly 2,000 verts. Tamarack is a favorite with hard-core freeride bikers, offering rare double-diamond steep rock drop-offs and other totally sick features. For lower-key riders, there's an easy way down on Pura Vida. 

Blast from the past ... Gary Kucy, left, and Steve on a ride down the backside
of Tamarack leading to the upper Weiser River ... My old full-suspension Cannondale ... 
Check out the meadow trails at Tamarack, too, where no shuttle is required. You can take Cottage Trail or Lower Pinnacle over to the meadow trails. Climb Lower Pinnacle, go left on Merlin and climb that to the junction with Sandhill and Wild Turkey. Go downhill on Wild Turkey as it slaloms through the forest to Blackbird and continue to Pelican Trail, which provides a big loop around the perimeter of the golf course, returning to the clubhouse area. 
- SS 

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