Author Topic: Gibbons Pass Alternate  (Read 210 times)

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Offline CJR2020

Gibbons Pass Alternate
« on: July 24, 2020, 04:54:52 pm »
Question on TransAmerica Trail, Section 4, Missoula to West Yellowstone,Panel 38:  Has anyone recently ridden over Gibbons Pass Alternate from North to South.  The most recent posts in the Routes Forum date from 2017.  I'm interested in the condition of the road:  Is it maintained? Washboard? Washouts? Sandbars?  Will be riding in August 2020 with fully loaded tour bike with #32 tires.  Any comments or help appreciated.  Thanks.

Online John Nettles

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2020, 05:27:51 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!

Check out the journals over on CrazyGuyonaBike.com  .https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/search/?main_type=journals&docs=pages&query=%22gibbons+pass%22&sort=date_desc 

The latest is from last summer. 

Tailwinds, John

Online BikeliciousBabe

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2020, 11:06:00 am »
Not sure if it was I who made the last comment you found. I rode it in 2014.  The north/west slope was generally not that well maintained. In fact, I believe there is a sign that reads "not maintained for vehicles" or something like that.  Note that the U.S.F.S. facility at the base of the climb is no longer a maintenance facility. That may have affected how often the pass is maintained.  Based on my experience, I think you would be pushing it on 32c tires on that side unless you are travelling on the light side. There were some places that had fallen rocks/stones and a generally rough surface. I lost traction a couple of times and had to push for short distances. When I finally made it to the top, there was a relatively narrow section of tree trunk that had clearly been placed across the road intentionally. I think the message that was trying to be sent was "If you can't drive over this you shouldn't be riding that slope." I did actually get passed by one vehicle heading south/east. Old timer with a dog in the front seat. His vehicle had good ground clearance. He was quite patient and waited until I came to a curve where there was enough room for me to pull over so he could pass. There are some stretches where that is not possible. There is a sign about the lack of pullouts for the first 6 or whatever miles at the base.

The south/east slope was an entirely different story. Except for the initial part of the descent, the grade is mild to very mild. The surface was either hard pack dirt or small gravel.  Easy riding.  There are some recreational opportunities back there, so expect to encounter some vehicles. I rode it mid-June and encountered maybe 5 on that side.

With all that said, if you think you can make it it's worth the ride. Some of the views going up are terrific. Make sure you look back when you are on the section where you have to choose which tire track to ride in. And make sure you choose the left one whenever possible. If you are on the right and fall to your right it's a long, steep slide down.  ;D I will post a link to some photos if I get a chance.

It would probably be a good idea to stop in the Sula Ranger Station to ask about current conditions because what things are like today could change tomorrow. It is located on U.S. 93 not that far beyond the Sula store/campground and just before the left turn for the pass. Note that I am pretty sure that office is closed on weekends.

Offline CJR2020

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2020, 10:00:27 pm »
Many thanks to both of you who replied on this.  I'm new to the forum, so don't know how to reply individually.  This is exactly what I was hoping to learn before considering the Alternate.  There's three of us in our group and we'll discuss your posts.  We'll probably stick to the pavement.

Online BikeliciousBabe

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2020, 09:18:50 am »
Many thanks to both of you who replied on this.  I'm new to the forum, so don't know how to reply individually.  This is exactly what I was hoping to learn before considering the Alternate.  There's three of us in our group and we'll discuss your posts.  We'll probably stick to the pavement.

Made a little photo album:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349603@N05/albums/72157715268775966

The first four are from the climb. The second four are of the descent. Looks like the rider with the Crazy Guy journal may have ridden it after some rain.

If you want to try some dirt, I highly recommend the Old Darby Rd. Alternative south of Hamilton. The surface has been good the three times I have ridden it since 2011. Only a few, mild washboards. I think 32c tires would be fine, especially since there are no steep hills. And the scenery is terrific. Some photos of my various rides there:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349603@N05/albums/72157715270602507

The Laurin Alternative south of Sheridan should also be doable in 32c tires. It avoids about 8 miles of shoulderless highway.  I think there is a link to an on-line map on the addenda.

Finally, send me a PM if you would like more info. about places to stay, etc. I have ridden on the TA south of Missola several times since 2011, skipping only the stretch between Badger Pass and Twin Bridges in favor of an alternative routing to Twin Bridges.  In 2016, my last time out that way, I made it as far as Ennis before circling back towards Butte.


Online John Nettles

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2020, 09:37:25 am »
Nice pics.  Based on those pics, I personally would be fine riding it with my standard 35mm tires. 

Offline CJR2020

Re: Gibbons Pass Alternate
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2020, 04:05:32 pm »
Great pics, thank you!!! Especially appreciate the Old Darby Road recommendation.