After creating more than 42,000 miles of bicycle routes on paved, gravel and dirt roads, Adventure Cycling Association is taking a foray onto backcountry single track.
It’s new Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route is a two-map set of the mountains, lakes and valleys of central Idaho.
The main 518-mile loop uses pavement, gravel roads, four-wheel-drive roads and old railroad beds as it passes such smaller towns as Idaho City, Stanley, McCall, Cascade, Atlanta, Crouch, Garden Valley, Lowman, and Placerville. This off-pavement route might be reminiscent of the nonprofit’s popular Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that runs along the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico.
In addition,there are four singletrack options totaling 227 miles along the route that take mountain bikers deeper into the bush.
These singletrack routes are a first for Adventure Cycling cartographers. Some of these narrow path excursions are rated for expert mountain bikers only.
One of the biggest draws of this new route is expected to be the many hot springs. Adventure Cycling counts 11 commercial, developed hot springs along the route, as well as 40 undeveloped backcountry hot springs.
The route contacts many trout streams and rivers, including the South and East forks of the Salmon River, South and Middle forks of the Boise River, North, South and Middle forks of the Payette River as well as the main Salmon River.
Other highlights of the route include the Sawtooth Mountains, White Cloud Mountains, and the Lick Creek Range.
The ride is far from flat, and mountain bikers will be climbing or descending the entire length. While passing through these empty spaces, be on the lookout for deer, elk, eagles, osprey and black bears.
Those familiar with the region say the best time to ride is after the snow melts and before the wildland fires spring up — between late June and late July. Bike travel can be enjoyable here in the early fall as well, although mountain bikers should know that heavy snows could strike in late September.
[By the way, Adventure Cycling is offering two map sets for free. Read how to win at Idaho Hot Springs singletrack and map giveaway.]