My girlfriend Christine and I recently finished the main route over 9 days starting and finishing in Ketchum for a total of 545 miles on cross bikes with rear panniers and handlebar bags (counter clockwise). June 24 to July 2. I was on a Surly Cross Check and Christine was on Motobecane Fantom Cross.
The trip was awesome!!! The views were incredible and Idaho is a very beautiful part of the country.
We actually ran into Josh from GEAR AID on our very first day and ate breakfast with him at the Stanley Baking Co the following day and camped with him that evening. Great to meet you Josh! He took the above picture of us.
Here are a few tips, pointers, and comments from our ride:
- It rained more than expected and it was decently cold at the top of the Lick Creek Pass because of the rain. (There was still snow on the ground in spots)
- A lot of the hot springs were still under water at this point in the year. (This didn't bother me because I actually had more fun swimming and cooling off in the cold rivers on the hot days)
- Be careful on the descents!!! Especially if you are by yourself. The descents are really fun and go for miles but you would not want to eat it really hard with no one around. Make sure your brakes are good!
- Christine only got one flat tire, and that was from a sharp piece of glass in McCall. So flats didn't seem to be any type of issue.
- You can camp for free the whole time.
- Make sure to stop and visit the nice folks at the Galena Lodge restaurant north of Ketchum (local bikers were eating and having a beer there) and eat breakfast at the Stanley Baking Co in Stanley.
- Carry enough water on the hill climbs. There are good water sources the entire route but some of the hill climbs get hot and are away from water for stretches.
Editor's Note: We recommend Aquamira Water Treatment Drops for backcountry water purification.
- Be conscious of vehicles. Because you don't see very many in spots it's easy to get lulled into forgetting that vehicles do use these dirt roads.
- We parked at the YMCA in Ketchum. Great place to take a shower at the end of the trip. We also bouldered on their inside boulder wall. It says no overnight parking but a little birdie told me it is not an issue.
- The single track on the Old Galena Toll Road was extremely difficult on a cross bike with loaded rear panniers. I only did the first 3 miles of it before hopping back on SR 75. I didn't have to walk my bike but those 3 miles were the most exhausting stretch for me out of the entire trip. I decided to skip the next "rocky, faint, deteriorating road" part of it which the Galena Lodge staff said was not maintained for fallen trees. Christine made the wise decision of staying on SR 75 the entire time.
- A bike computer seemed pretty crucial in spots for keeping track of distances. Navigation was straight forward but it was definitely good to follow the mileage markers on the cue card. A backup map of the forest service roads would probably be a good idea to have with just in case you get off course (a nice ranger gave us his for one of the areas we were in but luckily we didn't have to use it).
Overall I give major props to the route creator Casey Green and his fellow researchers. Christine and I had the time of our lives. It was both a fun and challenging route. Thanks!
Thanks to Derek Radtke for this guest post about biking the new Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route. The route was published in 2014 by the Adventure Cycling Association, and Derek was among the first cyclists to complete the main route.
Check out Bikepacking Idaho Hot Springs for more photos and stories from the trail.
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