Smart bikers bike Idaho. Whether you enjoy road trails or trails in the mountains, the state features unlimited opportunities for the bicycling enthusiast. Biking is more than good physical exercise, which most of seriously need. It also gives us the ability to reach attractions that we cannot get to on foot or in an automobile. And, it’s so exhilarating. When your bicycling you are in the great outdoors, breathing in fresh air and observing the beauty of the surroundings. This recreation has two basic categories: Road biking and mountain biking
Road biking across a trestle on the Route of the Hiawatha. Photo:Idaho Travel Council
Mountain biking scenery from Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Photo:Idaho Travel Council
Road biking in urban areas is generally on a paved fixed course. In the countryside, the road biker often travels on resurfaced roadways or trails. The smooth surface usually has gradual grades making our efforts easier. Some are old roadways. Some are trails that have been redone. Some are abandoned railroad beds, refurbished for bikers. Many are restricted from any motorized vehicles, and most permit bikers, joggers and just plain walkers. Some are also designed for wheelchairs. The road biker finds planned rest sites, interpretive areas and, usually, potable water along the route.
Mountain biking is much different. These trails are dirt (sometimes mud, in wet weather), with occasionally radical grade changes. This recreation might be at a high elevation at ski resorts, but it could be on open, rolling hills or even on a desert back road. Like the road biker, the mountain bicyclist may come across other bikers or hikers, but he must pick out his own relaxation stops along the way, pick his own view points, and carry his own water. This could be called “blue collar” biking.
Whether you like to bike Idaho on the smoother road trails or on the athletic mountain venues, remember these safety suggestions. Always wear a helmet and consider other protective gear for rough terrain. Carry a complete first aid kit. Bring a charged cell phone and call 911 immediately if you think it is a medical emergency or if you or someone else has chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding, sudden weakness or numbness. Carrying your own water and energy snacks makes sense. And, don’t forget sunscreen!
Here is a list of some popular locations to bike Idaho:
BIKE IDAHO: ROAD BIKING
Bill Chapman Palouse Trail The Palouse (pronounced pal-loose) is a major wheat-producing, agricultural area, located in parts of north central Idaho and eastern Washington. This 10-foot wide, paved trail built on an abandoned railroad line is 8 miles long between the Idaho town of Moscow and the Washington town of Pullman. Built to accommodate those on bicycles and rollerblades, it also is perfect for walkers, joggers and even wheelchair-bound sightseers. The trail cuts through the Palouse, with 13 bridge crossings over Paradise Creek. The Idaho trailhead begins on Perimeter Drive in Moscow, ending at the Washington trailhead near the Quality Inn in Pullman. There are educational rest stops along the way. Bring water and wear appropriate clothing.
Boise River Greenbelt This greenbelt links Barber Park, Municipal Park, Julia Davis Park, Ann Morrison Park and Kathryn Albertson Park and other natural and man-made attractions. It includes a 25-mile long bicycle and pedestrian path along the river. The path runs from Garden City to Lucky Peak State Park and all but the 1.5 mile section from Barber Park downstream is paved. Wildlife viewing, including songbirds, ducks, geese, heron and eagles is superb along the route and is best in the morning or evening hours. The Boise Parks Department at 1104 Royal Blvd. in Boise has maps of the greenbelt and attractions. Information: (208) 384-4240
Coeur d'Alene Parkway State Park Get to the park by taking the Sherman Avenue exit off Interstate Route 90, or from the city of Coeur d'Alene by going east on Sherman Ave. to Coeur d'Alene Drive. The parkway lies along the north shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. It follows the North Idaho Centennial Trail east from Coeur d’Alene to Higgens Point, where there is a boat launch facility, moorage docks and a picnic area overlooking the lake. More than one half-mile of public shoreline is found along the path. There is an exercise course, roadside picnic tables, restroom facilities and benches for those who wish to stop to enjoy the views. Information: (208) 699-2224
Idaho Falls Greenbelt Idaho Falls gets its name from the beautiful 20-foot waterfall on the Snake River in the middle of town. The scenic greenbelt along the river features a 6-mile paved trail that is loved by bicyclists, joggers and walkers. Information: (208) 523-1010
Route of the Hiawatha Rail Trail If you are thinking Bike Idaho, you must not overlook this world class trail that offers road bikers a spectacular ride through breathtaking scenery. The trail is built on the abandoned rail bed of the Milwaukee Road, the “Route of the Hiawatha”. The trail will eventually be some 46 miles long but, by most opinions, the best of the trail is the 15-mile section from East Portal (actually across the border in Montana) to Pearson, Idaho. This is a very gentle downhill ride all the way, taking a leisurely 2.5 hours. Winding through tunnels and over high steel trestles, the route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. Bring your own food, snacks and water. None is available along the way.
A scheduled shuttle can be arranged to take you and your bikes back to the top. Use your own equipment (mountain bike tires are recommended), or rent bikes at the Lookout Pass Ski Area (take I-90 Exit 0 at Lookout Pass and follow the signs to the ski area just a short distance off the highway). Reservations for bike rentals and the shuttle bus are suggested and can be made at (208) 744-1301, Extension 11, or through the reservation form at www.skilookout.com/ online. There is a fee of $9 for adults and $5 for children 3-13 years of age. Helmets are suggested for safety and lights for travel through the tunnels are also recommended.
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is one of the most spectacular trails in the western United States. It follows the right-of-way of the Union Pacific Railroad and you could call it “the Bike Idaho granddaddy of them all”. Here, you will find 73 miles of smooth asphalt that just perfect for road bikers, hikers and in-line skaters. The unique trail spans the North Idaho panhandle between Mullan, Idaho and Plummer, Idaho. The trail begins in the historic Silver Valley, continues along the Coeur d'Alene River, past scenic Lake Coeur d'Alene and through rolling farmland to Plummer. There are 20 developed trailheads providing optional entry points and there are 17 scenic waysides along the route for relaxation and picnicking. Information: (208) 682-3814
Wood River Trail System Constructed over the old railroad route through the Wood River Valley, the 20-mile Wood River Trail System runs from north of Ketchum through Hailey to Bellevue and connects to a 10-mile paved trail in Sun Valley. Bike Idaho on the Wood River Trails. For information, call the Blaine County Recreation District at (208) 788-2117
BIKE IDAHO: MOUNTAIN BIKING
Brundage Resort Mountain Bike Trails Beginning in July and through Labor Day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays you can ride the Blue Bird chairlift to the top of the mountain and enjoy over 20 miles of trails. Most are hand-built, single-track trails that offer great downhill action. There are trails for every level of mountain biking skill, from easy riding to white-knuckle fun. From McCall, drive about 5 miles north on Hwy. 95. Turn right at Brundage Mountain Road. The parking lot is about 4 miles up the road.
Adults (15+) $25 for all day, Youth (7-15) $20 all day; One chairlift ride, $10; Children 6 & under free. Bike Idaho at Brundage! Information: (208) 634-4151
Castle Rocks State Park Castle Rocks is the newest State Park in Idaho, located next to the City of Rocks National Reserve. To get there, drive 2 miles north of Almo, Idaho on Elba-Almo Rd., then west 1.4 mi. on 2800 S. (Big Cove Ranch Rd.). This new 1440-acre site has many recreational opportunities including rock climbing, photography, wildflower viewing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. For information, call (208) 824-5519
Farragut State Park Mountain Bike Trails There are two mountain bike trails in Farragut State Park. The Shoreline Trail, along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille is 3.5 miles, one way, on wide-track singletrack and a paved pathway. The Northside Loop is 4.7 miles of singletrack trails passing through grasslands and timber. Take U.S. Route 95 north from Coeur d’Alene to Athol, Idaho and turn right on State Route 54 to the park. Information: (208) 683-2425
Grangeville Area Mountain Bike Trails There are several mountain bike trails in the Nez Perce National Forest. The popular site is Fish Loop, a 6.6 mile singletrack trail on moderate terrain with views of the Gospel Hump Wilderness. It is located about 7 miles south of Grangeville, Idaho. For information on Fish Loop and other trails in the area, call (208) 983-1950
Kelly Canyon Loop Mountain Bike Trail This mountain bike trail near Kelly Canyon Ski Area is a 5.4 mile loop with other downhill options. The views from the mountain top are special. From Idaho Falls, take U.S. Route 26 northeast towards Swan Valley, turning at the sign for Kelly Canyon Ski area. Continue to the junction of Forest Roads 218 and 217. For information, call (208) 523-1412
Lemhi Pass Scenic Trail Bike Idaho on this mountain bike trail 21 miles south of Salmon, Idaho. It is a strenuous 39 miles on a gravel road along the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway, which traces part of the route Lewis and Clark took on their journey. Watch for cars along the road. Information: (208) 756-5100
Priest Lake Area Mountain Bike Trails Numerous mountain bike trails are available around Priest Lake. Upper Priest Lake Navigation Trail is an excellent mountain bike trail near Priest Lake - up to 8.1 miles, one way, on singletrack in the old growth forest next to Upper Priest Lake. Other trails include Chipmunk Rapids, Granite Pass and Lakeshore Trail. The area is north on State route 57 from Priest River, Idaho. Bike Idaho at Priest Lake. For information on these and other trails: (208) 443-2512
Schweitzer Mountain Resort Mountain Bike Trails Here is a special place to bike Idaho. Alpine meadows or rugged mountain terrain by mountain bike is available at Schweitzer Mountain. A vast trail system offers something for every ability level. The high speed quad chairlift runs daily and lift tickets are available at the Activity Center. Bike rentals are available in the Schweitzer Village. Located north of Sandpoint, Idaho off U.S. Route 95. Free; or $10 to ride the chairlift. Information: (208) 263-9555
Silver Mountain Resort Mountain Bike Trails You’ll find more than 30 miles of trails at the Silver Mountain Resort at Kellogg, Idaho, east of Coeur d’Alene. There is everything from rolling singletrack over varying terrain through the forests, road descents, and freerides complete with step-ups, drop-offs, road gaps, tables, banked turns, and tight trees. A high-speed gondola whisks you to the top. $26 all day ticket (includes Gondola ride). Bike Idaho at Silver Mountain. Information: (208) 783-1111
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