Located in the northwestern United States, Idaho—a recreational paradise—is the 14th-largest, the 39th most-populous, and the 7th-least densely populated state in the country, a state that features miles of untamed wilderness and countless pristine mountain biking paths for every level of rider. More than 60 percent of the land in Idaho is held and maintained by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, agencies that actively promote the sport of mountain biking throughout the state.
In the following article we will highlight five of Idaho’s most popular and well-traveled mountain biking paths, with a detailed description of each of these fun-filled and challenging trails.
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Eagle Bike Park
At over 250 acres, Eagle Bike Park is one of the largest mountain biking centers in Idaho and the northwest. Located in the town of Eagle, Idaho, a suburb of Boise, the park is jam-packed with technical features and regular trails, the most prominent of which is the Stormin’ Mormon free ride line, measuring in at 8/10 of a mile in length, with roughly 30 table top jumps and three exhilarating drops.
Other features of the Eagle mountain biking park include three free-ride jump lines, ranging from beginner to expert; a challenging pump track; beginner and intermediate dirt jumps; dual slalom race courses; a mountain cross race course; a skills park with three lines of wooden obstacles (again, ranging from beginner to expert); a downhill race course; and seven picturesque miles of cross country trails. These XC trails also connect to other single track trails in the area, as well as to local bike paths, thus providing superb connectivity between the various biking opportunities in Eagle.
Fox Creek Loop
Fox Creek Loop is located in beautiful Ketchum, Idaho, a city in Blaine County in the central part of the state. Ketchum is a valley loved throughout Idaho for the outdoor recreation it provides, including a number of great mountain biking trails.
Although definitely not a technically demanding course, the Fox Creek Loop trail does offers amazing views of the valley as it winds its way through wildflowers and a flowing riverside section that follows the Big Wood River. At the top of the Fox Creek Loop, riders begin a thrilling downhill section with steep turns and minor obstacles to keep them alert and on their toes.
The top section of the Fox Creek Loop was unfortunately burned back in 2007, which has allowed locals and visitors the opportunity to watch the new growth firsthand. The loop is a great ONE-WAY and only ONE-WAY, counter-clockwise mountain bike ride, and while the route is designed to commence at the Fox Creek trailhead, it can also be accessed from the Lake Creek and Hulen Way trailheads.
Bear Basin is located in the beautiful city of McCall, a resort town on the western edge of Valley County, Idaho. Originally a logging community, McCall is now an all-season tourist destination for outdoor recreation.
Bear Basin boasts a wonderful trail system for riders ranging from beginner to advanced and easy access from all directions. This scenic system of trails flows though meadows, vistas and wooded areas, providing riders with wonderful views of the lake and valley. The track officially begins at the park’s Winter Parking area, but can easily be done in reverse by starting from the opposite side of the trailhead. At the other trailhead there is also a challenging pump track, with obstacles designed to test even the most seasoned rider. The majority of trails on this loop funnel riders towards the upper and lower drain trails—two trails that serve as the centerpiece of this track system, featuring some massive berms and daring tabletops that can be ridden by all intermediate to advanced riders.
Also located in Ketchum, Idaho, the River Run trail is an exciting course designed to challenge mountain bikers of all skill levels. River Run trail provides access to both the Bald Mountain and Warm Springs Trail, affording riders the opportunity to make short loops on Bald Mountain. Unlike the rest of the valley, this trail’s soil is quite tacky in places, but don’t be fooled; there are still places to slide that rear tire for those so inclined.
Starting from the popular Traverse Trail, the downhill section of River Run Trail is a cross country rider’s dream descent. Tight single-track, winding through wooded forests, is definitely this trail’s bread and butter, and while fairly low on pure feature technicality, the trail gains its difficulty from the incredibly compact turns and speed-impeding obstacles.
When ridden as a climb, riders will want to begin at the base of Bald Mountain, where the trail starts off with a long series of switchbacks through the steep forest just above River Run Lodge. After about 3 miles, the single track trail connects with the aforementioned Traverse Trail before beginning its descent.
Located in Idaho’s capital city of Boise, the Table Rock region offers a number of thrilling trails for the state’s most ardent mountain bikers. The Table Rock area also offers stunning views of Boise and the entire Treasure Valley, and is a favorite among trail enthusiasts for both sunset hikes and rides. Although there are scores of trails to be found at the Table Rock Park, some of the more popular include:
Table Rock Trail #15: This trail climbs fairly steeply from the Old Penitentiary parking lot, to the top of Table Rock. It is an old road, so it is quite wide for the majority of its length, making it perfect for beginner riders. This is probably the most popular route to the top of Table Rock.
Table Rock Loop (Trail #16): This entertaining trail section traverses the quiet backside of Table Rock, and makes an excellent loop when combined with Table Rock Trail #15. It can also be accessed via the Lower Tram Trail from a trail access point across the road from the parking area at Warm Springs Golf Course.
Table Rock Quarry Trail #17: This trail offers incredible views as it winds its way under large sandstone blocks beneath the rim of Table Rock. It also makes for a great loop when combined with Trails 15 and 16.
Castlerock Loop (Trail #19): This is a shorter and easier loop trail that leaves from the Old Penitentiary parking lot, and ascends the prominent point just to the west of Table Rock, providing wonderful views for very minimal effort.
image credit: Sun Valley Trekking