Author Topic: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route - conditions & FR277 closure - Spring 2016  (Read 5518 times)

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Offline Ginger Jui

We have just ridden Boise -> Ketchum via the Willow Creek singletrack option (June 19 - June 22). Here's report from the road:

Willow Creek Singletrack:
- Decker Creek Trail to the junction of 098 (turn F on the singletrack map) is in good condition, with frequent downed trees. We did some light trail maintenance moving smaller snags off the trail.
- After the junction of 098, it was a mix of hike-a-bike and technical uphill single track, until we hit snow at around 8300 feet. The snow is patchy for about 1/4 mile and a lot of snowmelt on the trail. The trail is findable if you follow the blazes on the tree, but there is still about 3 ft of snow in places. Afternoon snow was too slushy to push, so we camped high and continued in the morning when the snowpack was harder.
- Decker Creek summit is a snowfield. Mildly difficult trailfinding in the trees. The trail can be found if you scout ahead on foot. Snow continues down the eastside of the of the summit until halfway down to Willow Creek.
- Willow Creek trail is in good condition with occasional downed trees.

Main route:
Forest 277 is closed to vehicles about 15 miles east of Featherville due to a large mudslide. Barricades and road closed signs are posted, closing off the section between between Skeleton Creek and Boardman Creek. The washout has rechanneled a section of the Boise River, washing out the road east of Skeleton Creek for about 1/3 mile, turning the road into a white water rapid and a large beaver pond further upriver. (We saw a large trout swimming up the submerged roadbed. Hilarious.) This section is passable to bikes thanks to a narrow path over the large scree field adjacent to where the road used to be. You'll have to push or carry your bike for about 1/3 mile through broken cobble sized rocks and through some brush. The trail is clearly marked and obvious. Someone has also left pink flagging.

Here's a news article about the closure: http://magicvalley.com/lifestyles/recreation/ketchum-featherville-road-remains-closed-due-to-washout/article_fb298bd8-d2db-5b4d-bd4c-0ba67633d286.html

Dollarhide Summit: Passable for all vehicles, no snow on the road, the lupines are busting out.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 09:37:09 am by JMilyko »

Offline phatophile

I did the Featherville-Ketchum segment on June 29. The road closure on FR277 is not temporary. It's been closed since August of 2015 and I was told by locals that the forest service has no intention of trying to fix the current location of the road -- they are going to have to build an entirely new road higher up on the hillside. At this point, I think this deserves to be promoted to the route errata page.

However, there may be a detour on other forest service roads. I ran into two motorcyclists at the Featherville cafe who were doing the Trans-America Trail (http://www.transamtrail.com/the-trans-am-trail/ , no relation to ACA's T.A.T.). They had no notice of this and were forced to backtrack out to Ketchum and around via Highway 20. However they made a phone call to a friend of theirs who was a day behind them advising him of this. The next day as I was climbing Dollarhide, I saw a motorcyclist coming the other way so I flagged him down and told him he wouldn't be able to get through. He told me he was the third biker in the group and had been warned, and that he consulted with the forest service and they gave him an alternate route. So in theory there is a way to get around this section without going all the way out to the valley, but I don't know what it is. I think ACA's cartography dept should get in touch with the local forest service office and find out. As I said, this closure looks like it's going to be around for the long term.

I carefully documented the closure while I was there with photos and GPS waypoints. I'll put those in my next post.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 10:17:03 am by JMilyko »

Offline phatophile

FR277 is closed from   43 35.0191N, 114 59.5907W on the west to 43 35.0332N, 114 59.2484W  on the east. This is a distance of about .35 miles. Here is the situation in detail. The road is on the north side of the river. There was a mudslide on the south side that dammed the river and caused it to flood the road. Eventually the river punched through the slide at the lowest point, which is where the road used to be. The edge of the river is now the base of rockslides that come down the north wall of the river canyon. These rocks range anywhere from softball sized to chair-sized. Fortunately, some trail angels have moved enough rocks around to make a sort of path through them.

It took me 45 minutes to push my bike through the closed area. It wasn't terribly difficult because I'm using a pretty light bikepacking setup (see photos) but it is slow going because the rocks shift around under your feet as you walk and you really can't afford to slip and fall -- every surface around you is a jagged rock. I suspect that if you have a single set of panniers, you might be able to push through in one go; with front and rear panniers, you are more likely to require two trips and with a trailer, you will definitely have to make two trips. In that case it is probably going to take about 2 hours to get through this section. Nonetheless, this is probably preferable to the detour that ACA has suggested.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 10:17:12 am by JMilyko »

Offline phatophile

Alright then, now that the facts are out of the way, let me get up on my soapbox and state my opinions about the FR277 closure.

First of all, I really don't understand why this season's snowfall totals (which are now completely irrelevant) merit a prominent mention on the map's addenda page, but the FR277 closure is buried here in the forum. The map addenda main page states:

Quote
Addenda only pertain to long term changes and updates. For short term road closures, please see the Adventure Cycling's Routes Temporary Road Closures discussion in our Forums.

The snow totals for this year were clearly a short-term situation. In contrast, FR277 has been closed for 10 months and counting. Is that not a "long term change"? It's time to update the addenda page.

Second, I suggest that ACA get on the horn with the forest service and find out about possible re-routes that are not as big a detour. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such a route does exist. Motorcyclist #3 that I spoke with as I climbed Dollarhide never reappeared later in the day to backtrack his way out.

Finally, should you ride this? Almost definitely. Unless you are a real pack horse, you are looking at at most a 2 hour delay, and the countryside down here is really beautiful.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 10:17:20 am by JMilyko »

Offline JHamelman

First, thank you for the specific information on this closure. The 6/23/16 post above is the first I've seen of the situation with FR 277.

FR277 is closed from   43 35.0191N, 114 59.5907W on the west to 43 35.0332N, 114 59.2484W  on the east. This is a distance of about .35 miles. Here is the situation in detail. The road is on the north side of the river. There was a mudslide on the south side that dammed the river and caused it to flood the road. Eventually the river punched through the slide at the lowest point, which is where the road used to be. The edge of the river is now the base of rockslides that come down the north wall of the river canyon. These rocks range anywhere from softball sized to chair-sized. Fortunately, some trail angels have moved enough rocks around to make a sort of path through them.

It took me 45 minutes to push my bike through the closed area. It wasn't terribly difficult because I'm using a pretty light bikepacking setup (see photos) but it is slow going because the rocks shift around under your feet as you walk and you really can't afford to slip and fall -- every surface around you is a jagged rock. I suspect that if you have a single set of panniers, you might be able to push through in one go; with front and rear panniers, you are more likely to require two trips and with a trailer, you will definitely have to make two trips. In that case it is probably going to take about 2 hours to get through this section. Nonetheless, this is probably preferable to the detour that ACA has suggested.

Second, clearly, cyclists are making their way through this closed area and have yet to report it to us via these forums, email or phone. We rely on cyclists to be our ears and eyes in the field to alert us to situations such as this so again, I thank you for reporting in. You mention a detour that we suggested (bolded text). Where have you seen this information? I don't see it on the addenda or within the forums. Since I believe this is the first we've heard of it, I don't imagine we actually have a suggested reroute to offer at this point. Someone will contact the appropriate ranger station for more information and post it when available.

Jennifer

« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 10:17:29 am by JMilyko »
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Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline JHamelman

Alright then, now that the facts are out of the way, let me get up on my soapbox and state my opinions about the FR277 closure.

First of all, I really don't understand why this season's snowfall totals (which are now completely irrelevant) merit a prominent mention on the map's addenda page, but the FR277 closure is buried here in the forum. The map addenda main page states:

Quote
Addenda only pertain to long term changes and updates. For short term road closures, please see the Adventure Cycling's Routes Temporary Road Closures discussion in our Forums.

The snow totals for this year were clearly a short-term situation. In contrast, FR277 has been closed for 10 months and counting. Is that not a "long term change"? It's time to update the addenda page.

I understand your frustration that this information got buried. Placed as it was within another post, we didn't see the FR 277 closure when it was posted, either.

The snowfall totals and methods for determining their impact on the route is information that probably should have made it onto the printed map. This is why it went on the addenda as well as in the forums. We want cyclists to have this information for planning purposes regardless of the year.

Quote
Second, I suggest that ACA get on the horn with the forest service and find out about possible re-routes that are not as big a detour. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such a route does exist. Motorcyclist #3 that I spoke with as I climbed Dollarhide never reappeared later in the day to backtrack his way out.

Finally, should you ride this? Almost definitely. Unless you are a real pack horse, you are looking at at most a 2 hour delay, and the countryside down here is really beautiful.

As I mentioned in my above post, someone will be contacting the Sawtooth National Forest for recommendations to deal with this closure. Though it appears it is doable to make your way through the closure, it may be the forest's stand that they do not want cyclists doing this. We will not advocate this course of action without their permission. After we have this conversation we will post the outcome.

Jennifer


*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline JHamelman

I have started a new discussion with an update on FR 277:

http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=13992.0

Jennifer
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Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline phatophile

You mention a detour that we suggested (bolded text). Where have you seen this information? I don't see it on the addenda or within the forums. Since I believe this is the first we've heard of it, I don't imagine we actually have a suggested reroute to offer at this point. Someone will contact the appropriate ranger station for more information and post it when available.

Jennifer

The detour information I found was here: http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=13467.0
Suggested by Nathan Taylor of ACA cartography dept.

Offline JHamelman

Thanks, I see that now as well. My search terms did not pick up that entry.

Jennifer
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes