Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Routes => Topic started by: on August 19, 2020, 03:30:43 pm

Title: Missoula Spur
Post by: on August 19, 2020, 03:30:43 pm
I had a real problem route finding on the Missoula Spur riding from Missoula to Seeley Lake. The route details didn't seem sufficient beyond the 40 mile point with very ambiguous instructions and guidance. As an example, part of the route were quite overgrown (5 plus foot vegetation) and the description at Y's in the road were confusing. Given it was the first leg of my trip, it was a bad start. Has anyone ridden this route successfully (or unsuccessfully)? I think that at a minimum forest service maps or more beta are needed to get thru it.

Title: Re: Missoula Spur
Post by: ntaylor on August 19, 2020, 04:31:31 pm
Hi Alden-
Sorry that you had a hard time route-finding on the Missoula Spur. It is a challenging route for most riders, but especially northbound from Missoula. Can you tell me how you were navigating? Print map? GPX data or mobile app? During mapping, we realized the detail limitation of our print map scale to help with winding through that web of old logging roads. Therefore we made sure to add a recommendation to use our digital data on a device as a supplement to print maps-- the ability to zoom into the route line to figure out which direction to bear at a Y, for instance, is invaluable. Attached you'll find this recommendation as it is stated on maps.

As for the overgrown grasses and weeds, many of the lands that the Missoula Spur brings riders through are in a long-term process of ownership transition. The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management jointly manage these lands, but some swapping between the agencies is occurring. Weed mitigation has happened along the route, but this is not an annual practice, and not enough to weather the land exchanges and current economic climate. This year, for instance, I am fairly certain the weeds were not knocked back with spray so were quite high, as you note. We realized these factors when deciding to map the route but still felt that it offered quite a lot as a bikepacking route in terms of adventure, physical challenge, historic/cultural significance, and potential for future development.

I'm happy to talk more with you about the Spur if you like. Please contact me at ntaylor(at) if you are interested!

ACA Cartographer
Title: Re: Missoula Spur
Post by: on August 19, 2020, 05:52:06 pm
Nathan - We used the paper map rather than digital and totally missed the paragraph that you highlighted from the map.I had the  divide guidebook from the mountaineers for the rest of the route to Wise River, so was using that as the trail guide. I read the note on the non-technical option (on the map itself), so we took SR200 to Gold Creek to avoid the single track. Our miss was assuming the the non-technical option would be more manageable. In general, our crew was fine with 'super steep' and 'remote' but not the directions in area "i", "h", and "g". Also, the route from "k" to "j" was completely overgrown - rideable but messy. The route had a lot of roads and Y's that ended up making it quite difficult to navigate. We backtracked multiple times and failed to find FR 4337 and the gate.

We ended up going off trail and navigating via compass until 5am. Not great!   
Title: Re: Missoula Spur
Post by: ntaylor on August 19, 2020, 06:14:03 pm
That sounds rough. Do you mind sending me an email off the forum? I'd like to figure out if some of the navigational "keys" we use in the narrative descriptions have changed. The fact that you couldn't find the FR 4337 road and gate makes me wonder if some signs or other features have been removed/vandalized/etc. There are so few signs in this neck of the woods. If I can change the descriptions to avoid more folks getting lost I certainly will.