Author Topic: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route  (Read 24087 times)

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Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2014, 09:41:52 pm »

I get these following questions a lot, and was hoping you guys would be able to shed some light: How was riding the Main Route with a cross bike? What tires did you use? Was there any specific point that you felt the Main Route overwhelmed the tires, bikes and pannier setup?

Anyways, I'm Glad you guys had a great ride, and I 2nd breakfast at the Stanley Baking Company and beer at the Galena Lodge!


First off thanks again for creating an awesome route!!!

Overall I thought that the main route was no problem on a cross bike and Christine agrees.  She had previous experience on some 100+ gravel races but I literally only had 20 miles of gravel road biking in my life going into this trip.  Also I've only used a mountain bike once in my life so all I will say is that if you already own a cross bike then it's not necessary to go buy a mountain bike just to use on the main route.

I actually used my exact same bike set up from my 12 day Pacific Coast tour from Portland OR to San Jose CA back in May of this year:

I stuck with my 32mm Continental Tour Ride Tires which I believe are the same ones that come stock on the Surly Long Haul trucker.  Christine also had 32mm tires with similar tread.

With my setup, I did not have to hike on any portions of the climbs but I definitely had to take rests.  My rear tire would only start slipping on the real steep parts that were sandy.  Christine had to hike with her bike on certain steep parts of the climbs when the dirt road became too crappy.  A nice gentleman we met who had completed the Continental Divide last year was hiking in the real steep spots also.

The sections that had the most washboard and sand were probably the most annoying parts of the ride and I assume that wider tires and shocks would provide a smoother ride.

The downhills were probably the sketchest part for our bike setups especially when hitting sandy spots with decent speed.  I could feel the front tire losing traction in the sand and wanting to slide left or right if I didn't hold my line straight.  For the most part though, this was not an issue on most of the downhills and could easily be avoided by taking it slower on the descents.  My arms were definitely tired after the real bumpy downhill parts and shocks would probably help eliminate some of that stress.

Long story short....  We had no problems using our cross bikes with rear panniers and 32mm tires on the main route.

Just stay off the Toll Road :)

Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2014, 06:25:28 pm »
Hay all, This is Mike from Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum. We are pumped to see so many of the adventure riders out riding our trails. We are your local Salsa, Surly and fat bike headquarters. We have talked to many of you on your way through and for those that have not don't hesitate to stop on by for local beta and any restocks you need. Great to hear stories from the trail. Call, stop on in or just wave on your way by.

Offline jaserickson

Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2014, 12:06:47 am »
A group of us just finished a lollipop route running from Ketchum, north through the White Clouds Singletrack section, down to Stanley, and back to Smiley Creek on SR 75 just north of Galena.  All told it was roughly 140 miles and over 17,000 feet of climbing.  We did it over four days and three nights.  We carried both the main route and singletrack options map.  Both were dialed, by the way.  Great job on the maps! 

Thought I would post a few other observations that might be of use to others who ride the White Clouds singletrack section. 

- First off, we had an epic trip in every sense of the word.  It was incredible.  The White Clouds are an absolute gem and not to be missed.  As you ride near SR 75, you can see why the Sawtooths attract most of the attention, but venture back in the White Clouds just a bit and you're in some rugged country. 

- There were five in our group - 2 from Denver, one from Phoenix, one from Santa Barbara, and one from Vancouver, BC.  The elevation particularly on days 2 and 3 can be significant.  If possible, it would be helpful to acclimatize for a day or two. 

- We rode a spectrum of bikes from a fully rigid, custom Soma Juice to a Transition Bandit.  There probably isn't a perfect bike for all of the terrain that you encounter.  All of us rode 29er wheels. 

- We rode mostly bikepacking setups.  Revelate seat bags, custom frame bags, feed bags, etc.  Some had Revelate handlebar bags and others had strapped dry/compression bags to the bars.  Would definitely recommend the Revelate handlebar bags over the the strapped compression bags.  The dry/compression bags are excellent for most tours, but the downhills in the White Clouds broke several straps and generally bounced around all the handlebar bags except the Revelate. 

- The trail is VERY faint in places, particularly leaving Bowery guard station, near the top of Chamberlain creek, through the burn area on Warm Springs, and the Meadows before the Martin Creek climb.  The map was spot on, but you'll want to be paying close attention in these areas.

- The maps mention several turns as "unsigned" that are now signed, likely within the last 3-4 months.  One of the key areas is the Warm Springs trail leaving Born Lakes. 

- The descents into Germania, into Ants Basin, and down Warm Springs all require expert level mountain bike skills.  All are completely rideable, but loose, rocky, and steep are the general conditions.  The Germania descent was particularly surprising.  It's a blast, but hold on!  The other descents (down into Bowery, down Casino Creek, into the Washington Lake/Fourth of July Lake area) are all fun and flowy. 

- The burn area down Warm Springs creek to the Meadows has about 25-30 downed trees that require hopping on and off the bike.  We spoke with several folks on dirt bikes who thought they might get up to clear it with chainsaws, but it definitely slowed our pace.
- The map mentions some hike-a-bike. We would definitely not advise taking this lightly.  The climb out from Bowery is nearly unrideable, particularly the final mile.  It is fall line riding for much of the climbing with very few bench cuts leading to switchbacks.  More would be rideable without gear, but it's still largely hike-a-bike.  The climb into Chamberlain basin/lakes area is also quite a bit of hike-a-bike, though less than the previous climb.  We started up after a significant rain/lightning storm and relatively weary legs, but many sections would have been very tough regardless.  Avalanches over the winter have brought deadfall over the trail in several areas on this ascent as well.  Don't plan on flying up it - it's a grind. 

- We encountered thunderstorms every afternoon so try to plan to hit most of the exposed passes early if possible.  You're greatly exposed on the climb out of Bowery and the climb over to Born Lakes, in particular. 

- The view before the descent into Ants Basin is absolutely incredible.

- Water was no issue.  Nearly the entire section follows streams or comes across lakes every few miles.  We packed a Katadyn 6L for camp and used it to fill bottles and reservoirs.  We also had a Steripen and Iodine as backup. 

- We saw a ton of bear sign and one black bear.  Be sure to hang your food.  We brought 400lb parachute cord, which is super light and could withstand hoisting several bags. 

- The climb up Martin Creek begins with some pretty sandy sections that have been chopped up by dirt bikes.  Much of it is rideable, but it saps the legs a bit.

- Lastly, the descent on Casino Creek is one for the ages.  Huge views, tight singletrack, and it seems to never end.  Be sure to keep your head up as we ran across 2 sets of elk in this section. 

- We broke off route to grab a bite at Smiley Creek on the first day before heading over to Grand Prize Gulch.  Great folks and good food.  We also ate breakfast at Stanley Baking Co on the final day.  Highly recommend this place, especially after several breakfasts on the trail. :) 

- We did ride the toll road to the Galena summit.  It's easily rideable on a mountain bike - grade is mellow and basically no route finding until you cross SR 75 where the trail is very faint.  Recommend it if you are on a mountain bike. 

Hope this helps some folks planning this ride.  Highly recommend it.  Unforgettable trip.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 12:14:32 am by jaserickson »

Offline cyclist01

Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2014, 04:46:32 pm »
I'm thinking of doing half of the main route this September using the Lowman cutoff. I'd like to know if anyone has thoughts on which half would be better, northern or southern? Also, I'll be riding on a Salsa Fargo but not sure on choice between B.O.B. or panniers? 

Offline Bike Hermit

Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2014, 12:19:41 pm »
I'm thinking of doing half of the main route this September using the Lowman cutoff. I'd like to know if anyone has thoughts on which half would be better, northern or southern? Also, I'll be riding on a Salsa Fargo but not sure on choice between B.O.B. or panniers?

Sections of road on the southern half have been washed out this summer. Check Usually at this time of year there are closures from forest fires but so far we have been lucky. Just check before you go and be flexible.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 12:22:27 pm by Bike Hermit »
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