Author Topic: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section  (Read 2677 times)

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Offline cycleslogger

Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« on: April 23, 2013, 11:49:02 am »
I am planning on riding from Walla Walla, WA to Missoula, MT this summer. I ordered the appropriate Lewis and Clark section map and am very stoked. I noticed, however, reading the map, that the section from Lewiston to Kamiah on hwy 12 is not recommended due to heavy traffic, no shoulders etc and the better route is over the Camas Prairie through Greencreek. I'm ok with that, like to always find better road and more adventure they say. But- I've also noticed that most of hwy 12 from Lewiston to Lolo, MT is with 'not much shoulder'.  :-\

What's the opinion out there? Is highway 12 OK to ride? I am heading west to east.

Thank mates!  :)

edited 20MAY13: fixed Louis  ;D
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 11:35:24 am by cycleslogger »

Offline DU

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2013, 10:24:51 am »
Hwy 12  from Kooskia to Lolo is also part of the Transam. I rode this east to west in 2006 and enjoyed it a lot but remember I was coming down from the pass. I just looked at some photos and it didn't have much of a shoulder. Over the years I've told people that I thought that was one of my favorite roads on the Transam, even after already seeing a lot of pretty country. The highway is right next to the Lochsa river and I had no issues at all with traffic. Sorry I can't help with the rest of hwy 12.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2013, 11:39:46 am »
Hwy 12  from Kooskia to Lolo is also part of the Transam. I rode this east to west in 2006 and enjoyed it a lot but remember I was coming down from the pass. I just looked at some photos and it didn't have much of a shoulder. Over the years I've told people that I thought that was one of my favorite roads on the Transam, even after already seeing a lot of pretty country. The highway is right next to the Lochsa river and I had no issues at all with traffic. Sorry I can't help with the rest of hwy 12.
+1 on that.  I thought it was OK and quite beautiful.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 03:57:46 pm »
There's virtually no traffic on the 101 miles from Kooskia to Lolo Pass. You won't miss a shoulder at all. The river is protected by the 1968 Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The only people on that road are fisherman. You can pull over and find a beautiful camp site virtually anywhere along that road. And you can stop for a refreshing soak at the free, clothing-optional Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, although you'll have to hike 1.5 flat miles through the forest to get there.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 04:51:48 pm »
Johns comments reminded me, unless things have changed since 2007...
The worst place to camp on that section was the Jerry Johnson Campground, which I think was the only actual campground.  It was probably my least favorite camp spot that we stayed at on the entire TA.  Maybe stop and get water and wash up at the faucet, then wild camp somewhere else along the way.

That whole section was gradual climbing for miles of winding roads along the beautiful Lochsha River.  Pretty much anywhere you stop is scenic except Jerry Johnson Campground.  At the JJ Camp they cut down all the trees because they were falling due to root rot.  They let the area go "natural".  It was a few acres of weeds and very few spots without lots of rocks and roots to sleep on.  Is it still like that?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 06:07:26 pm »
There are six campgrounds along that stretch of road, but this is one of those places where wild (AKA "dispersed") camping (perfectly legal and allowed by the NFS) is better than the campgrounds. Stop at any of the campgrounds and fill up your water, and then go on down the road to find a good place for the night. I got my water at the Whitehouse Campground from a hand pump. Saves you a few bucks too. Stop at a ranger station if you need some suggestions or advice. They very occasionally see black bears here, but no grizzlies. Follow safe food practices and the bears are of virtually zero concern.

The Jerry Johnson Campground itself, of which Pete speaks, opens and closes on an unpredictable schedule, depending on the NFS budget and the number of campers they've been seeing recently.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 07:03:35 pm »
There are six campgrounds along that stretch of road

I guess I have forgotten about them.

Offline windrath

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 09:27:47 pm »
A group of us rode from Lewiston to Lolo Pass in 2007 and took 12 the entire way because we did not want the climbing of the alternative road (for various reason).  The Adventure Cycling warnings for 12 from Lewiston to Kamiah are dead on (pardon the pun).  You have to be prepared for narrow roads, big trucks, and high speeds.  We were lucky because we rode it early on Sunday morning, so the traffic was less than normal.  Even then, we were forced on several occassions to bail out into ditches to avoid big trucks.

The rest of the ride to Lolo is really nice.  Unfortunately, for us when we rode it in early June, the entire day was rainy and cold (35 degrees).  We were soaked to the bone when we got to Lolo Pass.  We woke the next morning to 4" of snow on the ground.  Two days before in Lewiston, it was 95-100 degrees.  If you areriding in June, be prepared for major weather changes.

Offline John Grossbohlin

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2013, 10:17:43 pm »
My son and I rode that section in 2011 and it was one of the nicest parts of our trip from La Junta, CO to Pasco, WA using the Transam and Lewis and Clark routes... beautiful scenery and traffic was not a problem. No shoulder is an accurate description... there is white line and a ditch with nothing in between along most of Rte 12.

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2013, 08:54:58 pm »
It's L-e-w-is, not Louis (which is my middle name) Meriwether Lewis. Sorry to pick nits, but the Corps of Discovery is my hobby and passion.

Ride safe,
Hans
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Offline cycleslogger

Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2013, 11:41:55 am »
Thanks for the feedback mates.  :)

I'm all set to go. Will be camping in Lewiston, ID at Hells Gate State Park and then a night in a hotel in Kamiah, then camping at Wilderness Gateway CG and then a night at Lochsa Lodge. Next day its down to Missoula!

I am bypassing the section of Hwy 12 from Lewiston to Kamiah by heading south on Hyw 95 to Craigmont and then to Nez Perce and then to Kamiah. I think my ACA map has this as a recommended way to get around the bad section of hwy 12. I'll be doing it in the second week of July. Hoping for good weather by then.

Again... mucho thanks on the replies!

Scott :D

Offline cycleslogger

Re: Louis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2013, 11:42:59 am »
It's L-e-w-is, not Louis (which is my middle name) Meriwether Lewis. Sorry to pick nits, but the Corps of Discovery is my hobby and passion.

Ride safe,
Hans

Doh! Thanks. I have edited the post.  8)

Offline wherestheriver

Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2013, 02:55:35 pm »
i rode that section last summer. the Kimiah to Lewiston section does have limited shoulder, and i had the same quiestion last year...others had noted the common alternate path (your refered too) is nice for scenery, a bit hilly, and a good camp spot at Wichester lake sp., it does add extra miles ?? and hills. Here is what and how it worked out.....  I left Kamiah city park camp spot (free) at the crack fo dawn on a sunday morning ( 5:15 am or so).... had a light tail wind along the river... and averaged 20 mph all the way to Lewiston, because wanted to beat the traffic, i actually made a game out of how many cars would pass me in the first few miles... well trafiic was light  until the highay section at the end ( this had a big shoulder)...i think 4 or 5 cars passed me (going my way toward Lewiston) in the first seven miles. Would i take this route in high traffic ... no... i would choose the alternate... but under the right conditions ( tailwind, limited cars, good wheather ) it is very nice. the rest of the way over lolo is basically brilliant... ditto on recent campground replys.... the one next to Lochsa lodge (powell) is nice... beer and a meal at Lochsa Lodge is a nice treat.

Offline cycleslogger

Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 11:05:25 am »
^^ Excellent. Thank you!

Offline shannongalinat

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Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 02:57:51 pm »
I have ridden east-bound on Highway 12 four different times in the past 6 years, each on short cycling tours.  The highway is indeed narrow, and there is noticeable truck traffic... despite this, I count US Highway 12 over Lolo Pass as one of my favorite road rides.   The scenery along the Lochsa River is second-to-none.  The road is smooth and gentle (but long) grade.  Don't skip Highway 12.

As for camping, you should consider the Three Rivers Resort.  It's a lodge/campground at the confluence of the Lochsa & Selway Rivers.  I've stayed there multiple times on my cycling trips, and the ownership is friendly and accommodating to cyclists.  Further up the pass, you can stay at Powell campground which is very near Lochsa Lodge.  Have a meal at the Lodge and then pitch your tent at Powell which is only ~1/2 mile away from the Lochsa Lodge.

Enjoy,

Shan
Shannon Galinat
Boise, Idaho
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