Bachman Grade

No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside a moment of adventure                                                                             

                                                                                                   – Frosty Wooldridge

As winter recedes and spring inches near, our high passes start to thaw with potential once again of reaching their summits. One in particular has peaked my interest as a possible looping route on our dual sport motorcycles. The Bachman Grade, or Triangle Road, that climbs over Toy Pass, sitting just shy of 6000′.

The Bachman Grade/Triangle Road appears to make a nice loop opportunity for the Owyhee Backcountry Byway … otherwise known as Mud Flat Road. Bachman Grade makes it’s way over Toy Pass and then into Triangle where a couple of options are present either along Flint Road or Antelope Ridge in reaching the Byway. A 4 wheel recon trip is in order to assess snow line and road conditions!

Triangle Rd starts it’s advancement towards the pass from the small ranching community of Oreana.  The landscape out of Oreana is typical rolling high desert with scattered sage brush that runs along the ancient shorelines of Lake Idaho.


… towards snow covered ridgelines


The road starts to develop more character as it meanders through one drainage into the next …



As the road climbs signs present themselves warning passing travelers that requesting rescue from the local Sheriff will incur a hefty price, literally get stuck and pay the bill. Sounds fair enough …. onward!

Bachman Grade starts its ascent and winds gracefully up the mountain side. The road surface is wet, but in otherwise great shape. After about a mile or so I start to make my way into the lingering snow. It is not deep, but consistent enough that I stop at the next available wide spot. Not familiar with the road and whether or not there is ample opportunity to turn around just ahead I decide to not push any farther. The snow covered pass is visible in the distance … but I’ll leave it for yet another day. No point in tearing up the road and/or getting stuck!

-Back towards Oreana


-Toy Pass


I’m parked just below an unnamed peak that is insistent of even better views, so with bluebird skies … I make the hike.

-Panoramic goodness from unnamed peak (Left to right)





See the truck! …. Boone, Quicksilver, and Hayden Peaks in the distance ….




I find some interesting rock formations, both natural and manmade atop unnamed peak. The man made portion appears that of a wind break for a campfire …. quite the view!



With Toy Pass in my rearview I head back towards Oreana and the cutoff road ….



Being in close proximity to the Mountain Home Air Force Base … the Owyhee Desert (1) (2) has a scattered history of once holding launch sites for ICBM Trident Missiles. Long since gone leaving behind imaginative what, when, and where were these sites? Dirt Biking the washes in the past I remember an old bunker that sits prominent against the desert landscape…. this site, evidently not part of the Trident program but of an Army Pershing 2 rocket program that was scrapped. This site was never activated and was ultimately dismantled. Today I can afford a closer look at what’s left over!



From here I continue along the cutoff road until it intersects with Mud Flat Road …. I’m curious, not ever being on Mud Flat before, so I head west with the intent of turning back after about 15 miles or so.


Snow and a soft road surface has other plans and right about the 15 mile mark points me back in the direction I came.



My goal today was not to complete the Byway, so I head back towards Grandview leaving this crossing for another day ….


I follow the straight line into Grandview and connect to the Baja Road, which follows the Snake River along it’s eastern edge. The Baja Road is in surprisingly good shape, again straight, but drives nicely towards Swan Falls where I reconnect the pavement and make my way home.

Dust, to snow, and back to dust …. Final shot


4x Snow Day …

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

                                                                       – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back on a cold and snowy November day … for some reason, which eludes me, I thought it to be a good idea to grab the fly rod and see if I could make the traverse over Long Gulch from the Prairie side over to the Middle Fork of the Boise River. Mother nature had been giving us a bit of a smack down early in our season with most of our ski areas already in operating status. The possibility of snow was recognized and like the saying “Don’t touch a hot stove” … one must go!

With coffee in hand I made my way out via Blacks Creek Road … the weather had actually warmed the last few days, so clear roads were mildly anticipated …

I suspect that a thousand years from now Archeologists will be trying to piece together the story of why we waged war against road signage!


Immediately upon Blacks Creek Road the surface evolved from wet to slush … like I said “mildly anticipated”


… and then to fresh tracks!


… there is a peace that comes over you as you start to break trail… the quiet calm that occurs when tires run over fresh snow. There were a set of tracks before me, but still plenty that I am able to make my own.

-“Fronty” glamour shot with the Owyhee foothills in the distance


-Across the valley


Over three Point Mountain and the snow gets deeper …


Blacks Creek Road is one of our popular summer dual sport through routes as it provides back road access all the way through to Ketchum or Hwy 21 and Stanley.

-Anyone want to ride … not today!


Further on down the road passes Willow Creek, another popular trailhead accessing the Danskin trail system and Fiddler Flat.

Look Ma, no bullet holes!


-Back on top


Obligatory view of the Arrowrock headwaters …







-Neil Bridge


-South Fork Boise Canyon



-Eat Mor Chikin’


-A single evergreen clinging to the edge


The South Fork Boise River Canyon is an approx.  14 mile long basalt crevice that is commonly regarded for world class fly fishing and whitewater rafting.

“The 101-mile-long (163 km)[2] South Fork rises in northern Camas County in the Smoky Mountains and Soldier Mountains of the Sawtooth National Forest north of Fairfield, 65 miles (105 km) east of Boise. It flows generally southwest, descending through a basalt canyon to fill the Anderson Ranch Reservoir, then turns northwest in central Elmore County. It joins the main stream as the southern arm of Arrowrock Reservoir, 20 miles (32 km) east of Boise”  (Wikipedia)


With this shot of the canyon in my rearview … I roll the direction of the Prairie Plateau and turn up Long Gulch. Not long after turning onto Long Gulch I reach the end of the maintained road and again start breaking trail up towards the Lava Mountain turnoff.


This is the point where I start to question my plan of pushing forward. The road is untracked and actually quite fun, but with 20 miles of snow covered road that also includes a few small valleys to pass through … and the small fact that I am alone … it seems prudent to backtrack.

The closest fishable water from here being Neil Bridge … back we go.


Back at Neil Bridge and just below the snow line … I spend the next hour or so swinging some flies. It has been quite awhile since I wet a line, so the fact that no fish were stirring was of no consequence … it felt good just to be outside, in the snow, the rain, with the only sound being the water passing by ….



Sunday drive to Thorn Creek Butte

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”                 (Henry Miller)

With winter still yet to settle in, another Sunday has presented itself with opportunity for another daily adventure …. so, today I decide to drive the loop over Thorn Creek Butte with my sights fixed on the fire lookout tower that rests on top of it’s 7500ft peak.

Driving up Hwy 21 out of East Boise, I make my turn along the Atlanta/Middle Fork Road. The first site of significance is the old Arrowrock Dam. Being one of three, Arrowrock is a concrete arched structure built back in 1912, the project intentions were of flood control for the Boise Basin and improved irrigation for downstream farmers.

-Arrowrock Dam-


“Arrowrock Dam is a concrete arch dam on the Boise River, in the U.S. state of Idaho. It opened in 1915 and is located on the border between Boise County and Elmore County, upstream of the Lucky Peak Dam and reservoir. The spillway elevation for Arrowrock is 3,219 feet (981 m) above sea level and its primary purpose is to provide irrigation water for agriculture”

(Wikipedia, Arrowrock Dam)

-Pavement ends-



-Controlled flow-

… on display is an old retired gate valve ….



Once past the dam, the road winds precariously along the lakes edge before making the connection to Cotton Wood Rd …. at least once a year a vehicle plunges from the road to the water body below …. volcanic cliffs exposed along the opposite shore detail the geologic diversity of the area.


-Cotton Wood Road-


Cotton Wood Road continues north past the old Cotton Wood Ranger Station. It used to make the connection over Cotton Wood Summit to Hwy 21, but a number of years back a slide blocked the road with the USFS electing not to reopen to vehicle traffic. It does however remain passable by bike and ATV.

-Cotton Wood Ranger Station-


The road continuing up towards the ridge junction …. is in surprising good condition ….


….. but does start to get a bit more primitive once past the ridge junction and heading up the ridge towards the peak.


Overcast skies with some low hanging clouds down in the valley …. The road continues to narrow as it climbs up the ridge …. with spectacular views  opening up to the south.


As the top nears the timber starts to appear …..


-Scary water crossing-


-Destination Thorn Creek-


-The hobbit forest-


After passing a few tent cities (Hunting Camps) …. the final stretch.


Thorn Creek Lookout … Built in 1933, this lookout is staffed each year.


The wind was howling, so I made a quick lap around the observation deck before making a quick retreat back to the warmth of the truck.

-View north-


-View west-


-View south-


-View east-


Working my way back down to Hwy 21 ….



-Ponderosa forest-


As I make my way down I pass two trucks on their way up that are fully chained …. we’ve had a few days of rain, so I guess they are preparing for the worst since they were also pulling large trailers.

I near the bottom and round a corner to find three pickups stopped. One is pulling a full sized hard side camp trailer that is starting to slide towards the downhill side of the road, which also presents a significant drop …. pulling his truck in the same direction. Now I understand why the previous trucks were chained up.

Myself and a couple of guys who came in behind me walk down to eyeball the situation. The road surface is so slimy it is difficult to walk across. With the number of rigs already on the scene I determine that I do not really have any assistance to offer. It is obvious that this group is going to be in full recovery mode for some time, so I backtrack my way back up to the ridge and nervously head over to Meadow Creek not knowing if I might find similar sections of mud.

The road over to Meadow Creek is windy and narrow, too narrow for trailers, limiting traffic to zero. The road conditions along this track end up being excellent … no mud to be found. I continue over Rabbit Creek Summit and make my way down to Idaho City, then Hwy 21 back home …. my day only to be delayed 45 min by my required reroute.


Quick drive to Graham Peak

For a while now I have been telling Jodi that I need to take her on a loop to see some of the spectacular Fall colors … typically we have about a 2 week window where the hillsides erupt in bright Yellows and Reds, so this weekend we loaded up the truck, grabbed the dog, and headed out for a nice afternoon drive to see what we could find …..

Moores Creek …


Edna Creek turnoff …. here is where I lost the dust cap to the camera lens … later to be found, but ran over.


RD 312 … Pikes Fork (Jackson Peak – Graham)


Rd 312 …


Not maintained for “passenger” cars ….





Jackson Peak LO …


We continue down through Trapper Flat …


I assume that given the name of the area that this is an old trappers cabin ….





Pushing on …


Climbing out of the flat …


As usual… we travel through an old burn area …. chainsaw being part of the required kit …. just in case.


Reaching the top we come across this traverse. In the early spring it is common to find the road closed at this point due to avalanche threating snow drifts forming above.





This being close to the high point and offering incredible 360 views from up top … .we stop and make the short hike up.


West towards Wolf Mtn …


Head waters of Bear River …


Counter Clockwise Pano …

West (Bear River)


Southwest (Shephard Peak)


South (Graham)


Southeast (Atlanta)


East-Northeast (Sawtooth Wilderness)










While we were a bit late to see the Fall colors in full effect, the Aspens already dropping most of their leaves, the views from top alone were well worth the drive …