In the fall of 2006 I headed east to work for Cowee Mountain Timber Frames in Franklin, North Carolina. It gave me another chance to drive across country, see some sights, and get some good mountain biking in. Here are the details.
I am starting to develop a routine for driving east on 80. I stop in Reno for a buffet and I make it to Elko Nevada and get a room at Stockmen's Casino at night. It is about 7 hours of driving time.
directions: Stockmen's is at 340 Commercial Street. Take the exit for Highway 225 but head south, Mountain City Highway. Turn left onto Idaho Street. Make a right on 3rd Street. Finally make a left onto Commercial Street.
opinions: Stockmen's is not the Bellagio but it is not terrible, definitely a good value. A room at Stockmen's comes in at under $40 with tax and the pints at the bar are $1.75.
I walked over to the High School and took in the fireworks show. Then I caught the last half of a country band playing at the casino before turning in.
I did the drive to Ketchum Idaho. I took a bit extra time and took the smaller highways to see some new stuff. When I got to Ketchum I drove to the Murdock Campground, one of a handful of National Forest campgrounds in the area, and got a spot.
directions: To get there head north on 75 from Ketchum. Turn right when you see the sign for the Sawtooth National Recreation Headquarters, it is called Road 146. Keep following the road, less than a mile. Murdock Campground is on the right.
opinions: The campground is located in a really pretty valley. But it just has the basics, garbage, a table, pit toilets, and water spigots. There are about a dozen sites in Murdock. A site is $10/night.
I got up in the morning and went mountain biking. There is a lot to choose from, I decided on Adams Gulch Loop.
Adams Gulch Loop
directions: To get there take Adams Gulch Road, just north of Ketchum on Highway 75 on the west side. Follow it to the parking lot at the end. I believe parking is free.
trails: I did the Sunnyside Trail to Road 141 to Adams Gulch Trail. I just did 6 miles then headed back.
opinions: I can't really say too much about the trail because I didn't complete it. I hadn't been doing much exercise for the last 8 or 9 months. And a ride 7000+ was kicking my ass so I turned back 6 miles in. But as for the first leg, it was ok. A few fun spots and great views. There was way to much shale and gravel for climbing, you had to walk in 4 or 5 spots. And there was more stinging knettle than I have ever seen.
Right after I turned around I took a bad spill. On a steep downhill section I was having a hard time slowing down and I was going to fast. I did a summersault over the bars. It was a pretty intense wreck and I took a pretty hard knock on the head. I could come up with a ton of excuses. I think I got to much speed because I had a new rim. I couldn't see the obstacles on the trail because it was over grown. The trail was covered with shale. But I think the real reason is I haven't been riding enough and I was giving it too much front break. I think I hit a large rock in the trail and there I was. When I checked my helmet out there was a pretty good sized dent and one of the straps was broken. I am now convinced that helmets are a must. You will never catch me riding my bike with out one again! I never bring my camera but I figured this would be a get back in shape ride and I would take it easy. It was going to be toast, I was sure, but it was fine. I must have been in the air when my back would have been rolling on the ground. New policy, stick to the old policy and leave the camera at home.
For the rest of the day I just hung around Ketchum. You can take showers at the athletic club but it was closed for remodeling. So I stopped by the visitor center on Washington street for some more ideas. They directed me to Easley Hot Springs. After that I dropped by Perry's Deli on 1st Avenue to get an Internet connection. Then I picked up a new helmet at Elephant Perch on East Street, one of literally about a dozen bike shops in town, friendly helpful staff. I went and got a shower at Easley Hot Springs. The hot springs are about 14 miles north of Ketchum on the west side of 75, there is a sign. I just barley got in. Call ahead because they have crazy hours, 208-726-7522. Showers are $2 and the hot springs are $6.50. The showers smell a bit like sulfur but they will do in a pinch. I didn't get to check out the hot springs. After that I went back to camp and got dinner. And I rounded the night off with a trip back into town and got a drink at The Cellar, a cool bar on Third Street. Ketchum is a cool town, I always look forward to coming back.
In the morning I packed up and got ready to head to McCall. I stopped by the hot springs before I went on. The hot springs are all in concrete tubs and there is a heated pool. I felt they could be hotter, but it was nice. Highway 75 between Ketchum and Stanley is about as good as it gets, it is just beautiful.
I originally planned to stay at Ponderosa State Park in McCall. It sounded like a nice campground, showers, etc. But it was full. So I had to come up with a different idea. I was going to do the Loon Lake Trail north of McCall. And it turns out there is a national forest campground at the trail head. Then I would just get a little further on down the line the next day.
directions: To get to Chinook Campground head north on Highway 55. As you are leaving McCall, take a right on Warren Wagon Road. Follow it about 38 miles. You will see a sign for the campground to the right, follow that road a mile or two more.
opinions: The Chinook Campground is beautiful, right by a little river. Chinook is a small campground, about two dozen sites. There are tables and pit toilets but no drinking water or garbage cans! Sites are $5/night.
I got up and rode the Loon Lake Trail.
Loon Lake Trail
directions: Get the directions from Fridays entry.
trails: I did trail 80 to 84 to 81. When I was at the lake I tried to do 81 or 84 around the lake, but they were not maintained and unbikeable. The loop I did was 11+ miles.
opinions: This trail is great. It is an intermediate/advanced single track. I might try the loop the opposite way next time, the section of 84 that connects 80 and 81 is too steep to bike in a lot of places in the direction I went.
After that I drove to Lolo Hot Springs and set up camp. Highway 12 is awesome, a lot of it follows a river.
Lolo Hot Springs
directions: Lolo Hot Springs is on Highway 12 near the Idaho border.
opinions: Lolo Hot Springs is a hot springs with resturant/hotel/cabin/tee-pee/rv park/campground. The campground is pretty nice, it is what you would expect from a private campground. But it is set in a beautiful valley with hot springs, so it is awesome. They have a large area set aside for tents and I think they just rent as many as they can cram in. It is $16 for a tent site. There are a few picnic tables, the usuals like garbage and water. They have flush toilets, showers, and hot springs!
The next morning I got up and headed to Missoula to take care of a few things. I found a nice cafe with Internet called Liquid Planet at 223 Higgins Street, their crepes are awesome. Then I got some advice on where to bike at Missoula Bicycle Works at 708 South Higgins Street. Missoula seems like a pretty cool town, I have to get back there.
I went back to camp and spent a couple hours in the hot springs and pool. The hot springs are 100+ in a nice indoor pool. It would be awesome to hang out there in the winter.
I packed up in the morning and went to do the Rattlesnake Trail.
directions:To get there exit interstate 90 on Van Buren Street exit and go north. Van Buren Street will become Rattlesnake Drive. Rattlesnake Drive bends right at a 4 way, look for a sign saying Rattlesnake. Later make a left on Sawmill Gulch Road, there is a sign saying left to trail head. Park at the main trail head parking lot.
trails:I rode out on the main forest service road. Then I made a left on Wallmen Trail. Continued on to Stuart Peak Trail. Then I descended on a handful of the many trails on the east side of the trail system. The loop was a little over 12 miles.
opinions:I got pretty frustrated by this trail. The ascent on Wallmen and Stuart Peak was very intense. There were quite a few spots you had to walk. And there was over 6 miles of this. These trails need to be redone to add some switchbacks and make the trail more rideable, rather than just shooting straight up the hill. I think this trail was created by motorcycles, that would explain the layout. The descent was a lot of fun, insanely steep and fast. I was a little worried about my brakes being up to the job. If I go back there I will stick to the trails on the east side.
When I got back to the car I took off for Bozeman taking a scenic route off the interstate. I got to Bozeman and got a spot at the Bear Canyon Campground, a private campground with showers I found on the web.
Bear Canyon Campground
directions: The campgrounds address is 4000 Bozeman Trail Road. There is an exit off of interstate 90 for Bozeman Trail Road. Go south. You will see the campground, just a few yards from the exit.
opinions: Bear Canyon Campground is a little private campground on the far east side of town. It is not the nicest campground. Sure the views are ok, like Bozeman it is set in a farming valley surrounded by mountains. But like most private campgrounds they jam you in there like sardines and you can hear the interstate and the nearby train tracks. There are the usuals, tables, garbage, water, and flush toilets. They have showers so I can clean up after biking though. And it is pretty clean too. I think they will cram as many in as they can. A slice of grass will run you $15/night. Basically what I am saying is this. A good place to enjoy the great outdoors, no. A cheap place to stay where you can get a shower, yes.
In the morning I went into Bozeman. Bozeman seems pretty cool too, Missoula might be cooler though.
I stopped by Bangtail Bicycle Shop at 508 W Main Street, a nice shop with some real helpful folks. I got some advice and picked up an area map. After that got on the Internet at Wild Joe's downtown on Main Street. Then I caught a movie before calling it a night. Bozeman is a cool place, I will be back.
I headed out to do the Emerald Lake Trail in the morning after packing up.
Emerald Lake Trail
directions: To get there go south on 19th Avenue, there is an exit for it on interstate 90. 19th will bend to the right. Make a left on Hyalite Road. There will be a sign for Hyalite Canyon. Follow it for quite a ways. Make a left when you see a sign for the Emerald Lake trail head. Follow that road until the end and park.
trails: It is a 9 mile out and back.
opinions: The trail was just awesome. There was good tacky soil. It was well designed and easily climbable, even though there was 1900' feet of vertical increase in 4.5 miles. The riding was technical too, intermediate level. And the view, especially at the lake, are awesome. There was a short but heavy hail/rain storm as soon as I got to the lake and turned around. So I wasn't able to go as fast as I would have liked on the descent, a bit like riding in Oregon.
After that I headed on to Jackson Wyoming. I got a bed at the hostel, The Bunkhouse.
directions: The Bunkhouse is on 215 North Cache, the main street.
opinions: The Bunkhouse is a hostel. It is a bit of a shit pit but it is only $25. The have a dorm beds, showers, a kitchen area, and a TV area.
I was hoping to go out and get a brew because Jackson is a cool town, but I was too tired and crashed.
The next day I drove to Park City Utah. I stopped by Park City Mountain Resort for a bit, where I had worked the previous winter. I tried to find a buddy of mine that was supposed to still be in town but to no avail. Later I got a few sodies at a couple of the bars I used to frequent.
After that I went to Jordanelle State Park, just a couple miles out of town, and pitched camp.
Jordanelle State Park
directions: To get there from Park City take highway Kerns Boulevard / Highway 248. Get on Highway 40 south. Take exit 8 off of 40.
opinions: Jordanelle is a pretty nice place to camp, it is a pretty park set on Jordanelle Lake. The area is heavily developed, condos and such, and there is a noisy highway, but it is a nice alternative to the expensive park city hotels. It has all the basics, plus it has showers and laundry. There are about 40 tent campsites which go for $15/night. What I am getting at is this. A good place to enjoy the great outdoors, no. A cheap place to stay where you can get a shower, yes.
I found out the next day the campground was booked up so I struck camp and headed into town. I bumped into my friend Jason and we hung out until he had to go to work. Then I biked at PCMR.
Park City Mountain Resort
directions: From Park Avenue / Highway 224 make a right onto Empire Avenue. Park at the resorts parking lot. Ride your bike down Lowell Avenue. Make a left on Silver King Drive. Make a right on Three Kings Drive. Then make a left on Crescent Road. At the top of the hill is the trail head.
trails: I did the Spiro Trail to Thaynes Canyon. From Thaynes Canyon I got on the Comstock Mine Road and Jupiter Access Road. Meadow Road took me down to The Steps. Then I took various and sundry routes down to the resort, most notably Johns Trail. It was a 13.6 mile loop.
opinions: Riding at PCMR is fun. The Steps Trail was pretty good. And so is John's Trail. John's Trail is a trail through an aspen forest with a ton of roots. It will jar the hell out of you.
Later that night Jason and I went out on the town. Park City is always a fun time.
All my Park City pictures
I decided to stick around Park City another day. I putted around town until Jason got home from work and then we went out.
I drove to Moab the next day and got a camp spot at Riverside Oasis Campground, a campground I had stayed at before.
Riverside Oasis Campground
directions: Riverside Oasis Campground is on the west side of 191, just north of the Colorado River.
opinions: Riverside Oasis is not my ideal of a campground, it is pretty much in town and it is surrounded by some sort of construction/dump. Also they pack you in tighter than anywhere I have seen. But it has all the amenities you could want in a campground. The basics plus showers, laundry, and dish washing stations. And they have wireless Internet. Also the place is very clean. The alternatives to the private campgrounds in Moab are primitive National Forest campgrounds with no showers, forget that. To break it down. A good place to enjoy the great outdoors, no. A cheap place to stay where you can get a shower, yes.
It took me a while to get up because I was catching up on sleep from Park City. After I did, I set out to find a trail I saw on a bike map, Tusher Canyon Slickrock Trail. The trail was out on BLM land north of Moab. I figured it might be too hot to ride by the time I found the trail. But spending some time finding the trail would be wise because then I wouldn't waste time searching when I had a window of time to ride, the morning or evening. The trail turned out to be very difficult to find, there were quite a few roads, none labeled the same as the map. Having a GPS I was able to finally figure it out. I had a blast finding it though. I was definitely pushing my little Nissan Pathfinder to the limits.
Later I just putted around town waiting for it to cool down, mostly at the Eddy McStiffs Cafe on Main Street (they have wireless Internet). It got to 106 that day. I wanted to go out that night, Moab has a descent night life, but I crashed early because I needed to get up early and bike when it was cool.
Tusher Canyon Slickrock Trail East & West
directions: To get to Tusher Canyon Slickrock Trail head north on Highway 191 from Moab. 12.7 north of the Colorado River is Mill Canyon Road. Take a left on Mill Canyon Road. Take a right at the Y in the road .5 miles in, there will be a sign there pointing to Tusher Canyon. Take a left 2.0 miles later when you come to a T in the road, there is a sign here pointing to Monitor & Merrimac Jeep Trail. Start looking for a place to park, at this point you will soon need an SUV or vehicle with some clearance to go any further. Follow the road to the GPS coordinates N 38' 42.280" W 109' 45.534" for Tusher Canyon Slickrock West Trail. Or follow the road to the GPS coordinates N 38' 42.408" W 109' 45.510" for Tusher Canyon Slickrock East Trail.
trails: Both trails are out and back. The east trail is a little less than 6 miles out and back. The west trail is maybe 8 out an back.
opinions: The east trail was a lot of fun. It was a real adventure. Out on the rock you can go all over the place. And it is a real challenge to keep on the trail, you have to follow the little piles of stacked rocks. It was really technical and there were a few portages. The heat was getting to me so I never finished the west trail. The first part was pretty dull though. After you carry your bike through 200 yards of sand, you follow a rim around that is not a particularly interesting ride. I got about half way through and headed back. Next time I am in Moab I want to complete this trail. I suspect that a little further and I would have wound up on some cool terrain.
After the ride I head on to Fruita, Colorado. I got a campsite at Colorado River State Park Fruita.
Colorado River State Park Fruita
directions: Take the Fruita exit and head south. The entrance to the campground is on the right a few blocks down.
opinions: Colorado River State Park Fruita is not too bad. They have a few dozen sites. And they have all the amenities like showers and laundry. It is right on the river with nice views of the mountains in the background. The down side is the noise interstate and abutting Fruitas business district which can also be noisy. And there is a lake you can swim at. They have a few campsites for tents you have to walk to that are a few dollars cheaper. I got one of those, though next time I think I will go for the regular sites. Then cheap sites go for $17/night. In the end. A good place to enjoy the great outdoors, no. A cheap place to stay where you can get a shower, yes.
I took a much needed dip in the lake as soon as I got to the campground. Then cleaned up. Later going into town and getting dinner at the Hot Tomato Cafe, it is downtown on East Aspen Street. They have pretty good pizza and wireless Internet. Fruita is really small, I don't think they have much of a night scene.
In the morning I packed up and headed out for a ride.
Moore Fun Trail
directions: Take the exit off interstate 70 west of Fruita, exit 15. Go south. Make a right at the T. Make a left onto the dirt road, there is a sign pointing to Kokopelli's Trail. Park at the mega trail head.
trails: I rode up from the dirt road from the trail head and got on Moore Fun Trail. I rode Moore fun to its end. From the second trail head I took the road back to my car. It was a little over 5 miles of single track. Then a little over 2.5 back on the road.
opinions: Moore Fun Trail is advanced single track. And it is one of the best trails I have ridden. There are a ton of fun obstacles. A few parts could be redesigned. I think few if any are riding through them, but they don't detract from the ride. It has good flow. There is a lot of slickrock type sandstone. Hell I could just go on and on. Just go ride it.
After the ride I headed to Durango Colorado. I made a quick stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument. It was very impressive. The largest vertical face of rock in Colorado is one of the canyon walls. Highway 550 from a little north of Ouray to Durango just blew me away. I got a spot at United Campground, a private campground with showers I found on the web.
directions: The address is 1322 Animas View Drive. Coming into town from the north on 550 you would make a left at the light on to Animas View Drive. There is a sign from the south but not the north so it is a bit tough to find. Follow it for a ways, you will see United Campground on the right.
opinions: Another private campground with all the amenities. It has showers, laundry, and wireless Internet. They pack you in there tight. There are pretty good views in a nice little valley. This place is actually on a working cattle farm. And there is this neat coal powered narrow gauge train that rolls through the campground every so often, the Durango Silverton line. It will run you $25/night. I think this may be one of the best private campground I have been to. So in summary. A good place to enjoy the great outdoors, no. A cheap place to stay where you can get a shower, yes.
After lounging about a while in the morning, I headed downtown to Mountain Bike Specialist bike shop on Main Street to get some advice and a map. Then I took off to get a little time on the Telegraph Trails. I get the impression that Durango is a really cool town. I have to come back.
directions: There are a few trail heads. I went to the one at the one at the east end of Third Street, Horse Gulch Trail Head. To get there go to the east end of Third Street.
trails: I rode up the dirt road to the Telegraph Trail. I rode that up to the Anasazi Descent. The rode the Meadow Loop around back toward the car. Finishing off with a few other loops. It came it at just under 6 miles.
opinions: Fucking awesome. I had been riding for three days in a row so I kept it short, but I regret it. The best thing about the trails was the flow. They were all bermed out a flowing. There were good advanced technical obstacles too.
I went into town that night and got dinner and some brews at Steamworks Brewing Company. Good food and beer. They had a DJ later that night with a big college crowd.
I started driving toward my dad's in Fillmore Illinois. Highway 160 west of Pagosa Springs east to South Fork is quite a road. After 13 hours on the road I made it to Hays Kansas that night, 640 miles. Pretty impressive considering a lot of that distance was mountain highway.
I finished the drive to Illinois. It was about 600 miles. That made 4449 miles from Fairfield California to Fillmore Illinois, the scenic route.
During my visit we mostly stayed around the house. I helped dad take care of a lot of things. We put some patio bricks (see photo), trimmed some trees, and did some repair work on the barn. We started a lot of camp fires to kill time. And we got around to a few other things like fishing and shooting. We got out a couple times. Once to visit some relatives. And another time to go canoeing in Missouri.
Dad and I canoed the Huzzah River near Steelville Missouri. We got our canoe from Huzzah Valley, a rental place east of Steelville on Highway 8. We used to go there when I was younger. They have a pretty nice campground and some other lodging options available too. A canoe will run you about $42. We canoed 14 miles from Huzzah Valley to the Onondaga Cave pull out on the Merrimac. It was a pretty nice float. And there wasn't too much portage even though the river was really down. This section of the river ran through relatively flat terrain. There were not as many of the cliffs and bluffs that make the Missouri rivers so interesting as you might find elsewhere. I think other sections of the Huzzah have more cliffs but you would need higher river levels to do those sections of the river. But even so it was still really nice.
All my Fillmore pictures
Saturday August 5th I started my drive to Franklin North Carolina. I got a hotel room somewhere outside of Nashville.
I arrived in Franklin. The end.