Thursday, November 14, 2019

Go enjoy the trails while mild weather persists ... Jug Mountain Ranch trails rocked our world!

All grins coming down Doe Joe Trail at Jug Mountain Ranch
Steve Schneider

Jim Giuffre, Wendy and Steve by JMR Reservoir
Hi all,

Well, it's looking as if we're getting a slow start on winter, even though we had a cool and wet September and October.

I checked the short- and long-term weather forecasts, and it appears that we'll have continued warmer-than-usual temperatures in the afternoons and below-normal precipitation for the next couple of weeks. In a long-range 2019-20 winter forecast, NOAA is predicting that most of the western United States will have a warmer-than-normal winter, but the Northwest region, including Idaho, has equal chances for normal precipitation, at least by December. That's the good news!

In the meantime, you might as well enjoy these sunny afternoons, and hit the trails while they're still in prime shape. At least in the Boise Foothills, the trails are dry and perfect for hiking, trail-running and mountain biking. Same goes for the Owyhee Canyonlands.

I went mountain biking at Jug Mountain Ranch last weekend near Lake Fork, and the trails there were in great shape still (slightly lower elevation than McCall), while the trails north of McCall above 5,500 feet were muddy, icy and snowy. Ponderosa State Park trails were mostly doable. And the North Valley Trail in McCall is still in perfect shape.

Courtesy Jug Mountain Ranch
At Jug Mountain Ranch, I rode South Elk-South Boundary Road to Berm & Ernie, and took Berm & Ernie down to the trailhead. That was a super fun loop, with a fun cruise through the timber on the South Elk singletrack trail, a fairly strenuous climb on the South Boundary Road up to the JMR Lookout, and then you lower your seat and cruise down Berm & Ernie. There are a number of rock drops along the way and spots to launch for big air. They rate that trail as a "blue" run or intermediate.

I also rode from the JMR trailhead up the main trail to JMR reservoir, crossed the dam, rode around the reservoir on Shoreline trail, which had a few patches of ice and snow on it, but otherwise, totally fun and doable. Then we climbed up to the JMR Lookout spot, and zoomed down Doe Joe, which is an endless series of switchbacks with bermed corners, but all smooth ... no rocks ... for a sweet ride.

JMR rates Doe Joe as a beginner trail, which seems a little off, but hey, if you're uncomfortable with riding bermed corners, there are other ways down the mountain, too. Doe Joe is a great addition to the JMR trail system, yet another reason to go there. 

Almost all of the trails at JMR are set up for an uphill shuttle service (provided during summer season). But if you don't mind grinding up the hill yourself, you can enjoy some great trails there before the snow comes. JMR officials caution to stay off any muddy trails if you encounter them. And then after winter comes, you can also snow bike at JMR on the xc trails, including some of the main access roads and trails you can ride now.

Highly recommend it!
- SS 

Bonus shot - big buck in Ponderosa State Park

Gorgeous evening on Payette Lake ... Wendy and Huck. Once the sun goes down, the temp drops like a rock.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

New trail to Sweet Connie, Stack Rock provides plenty of entertainment

L-R, Doug Lawrence, Steve, Jim Young and Mack Lyons on Stack Rock. 
The new trail to Stack Rock has a number of open vistas on the sunny side of the ridge. Nice for cold-weather conditions.
Hi all,

Several of my mountain bike buddies and I rode the new trail over to Stack Rock last week, and we thought it was a blast!

The new trail provides long-term public access over to Sweet Connie junction, and it takes you on a loop around Stack Rock.

Total trip mileage was 12.3 miles to do the loop around Stack Rock. Vertical gain was 1,107 feet, but it seemed like more than that. Travel time was more than 2 hours with several stops along the way for photo ops at Stack Rock, and lunch at Sweet Connie.

Tracks from Bogus Basin Road. 
I would rate the ride strong intermediate, moderate to strenuous in terms of difficulty.

The new Forest Service trailhead is closed for the season, but you can still access the trail by riding your bike from a right-side pullout along Bogus Basin Road, or from parking elsewhere and riding from the top of the trail.

David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers trail coordinator, laid out the new trail. Thanks Dave! Nice work! And a trail construction crew, Cuddy Mountain Trails out of Cambridge, Idaho, did the trail construction. Ridge to Rivers handled all construction contract oversight.

The new trail is slightly downhill on the way over to Sweet Connie junction, and it's slightly uphill on the way back. There are a number of entertaining features where you thread through some granite pillars and that sort of thing. It's a great trail for hiking, biking and trail-running, and it's open to horseback riding as well.

My GPS didn't capture the full mileage because of tree cover, stops or something ... it's more like 12.3 miles. 
It's a quick 3 miles or so over to Sweet Connie junction, and then you can decide if you'd like to ride counter-clockwise or clockwise on the lolly-pop loop around Stack Rock. We did it clockwise, which means you're going to climb a very strenuous granny-gear pitch in the approach to Stack Rock. But it's super fun the rest of the way. Both ways are doable.

I have a feeling that the new trail is going to make the Sweet Connie descent to the Bogus Basin trailhead, Peggy's Trail or Hidden Springs even more popular in the future.

- SS