Winds over Pinyon – Part 9

Now that we are back on the Bear Valley/Landmark-Stanley Rd … we will backtrack a bit back through the expansive Bruce Meadows and then along the north side paralleling Elk Creek.


Stopping at the airstrip ….


We cross over the Bear Valley bridge and continue on to the Elk Creek Work Center. The dust is wanting to linger, so we spread out enough to allow the air to clear.


WE kick it up along Rd 579 turning south on Rd 571 over Deer Creek Pass …. This particular section of Rd 571 was one of my favorites … it had great flow, little dust, and spectacular views over Deadwood Reservoir.


Rd 571 eventually connects with the shore of Deadwood Reservoir … and then the dam itself. Built back in 1929, the concrete arched dam holds back approx. 3200 acres of irrigation water.


Poseur Shot- OBR ADV Gear 38l Adventure Saddlebags doing their job!








The Deadwood river flows south for approx. 20 miles before its confluence with the South Fork of the Payette near Lowman ID.


Right below the spill way there is a nice singletrack that also runs back to the South Fork of the Payette via Deadwood Ridge … the last time I rode this section of trail was with my friend Jason on an out and back day loop from Boise.

Here is Jason’s posting of the day ….

We stop at the dam for a quick break…  we all comment to the fact that it is starting to get warm. 20 miles to the pavement.

Quick stop along the top of Scott Mountain … notice fuel is getting low!


Dropping into the furnace- Could be worse … it could be August! Banks/Lowman Road is below.


We make our way into Garden Valley … on fumes. Total mileage from Stanley/Loon Creek/Garden Valley was 165 miles … I should have 10 miles to spare … maybe? This is the first time I’ve rolled into a gas stop with literally a splash of gas left in the tank.

We fuel up and then head up over Alder Creek Summit where John E is waiting for us.



We continue through Placerville and then over to the Boise Ridge Road.


We make our final stop at the Bogus Basin Ski area …. the day is long, so from hear we will split up and make our individual runs for home.

This trip was a bit shorter then expected, but none the less just as fun. Adventure is what you make of it regardless if it is a weekend, a week, or a month. Being out in the wide open with friends recharges the spirit and creates stories that will last a lifetime… go find your adventure!


Winds over Pinyon – Part 8

At the point where the Pinyon Peak Loop Road starts its drop down into the Beaver Creek drainage … there is one more site of interest… that of the old Feltham Peak Lookout. A side track climbs for approx. a 1/4 of a mile to the old lookout site.


The lookout is since long gone, but the piling blocks still remain confirming the site location. Removed back in the 1960’s, presumably replaced by the current and higher Pinyon Peak Lookout. I have this adversion to lookout attendants. So many these days are grumpy and seem to not want to be bothered, understandable … I guess, so I prefer to visit the sites before and after the season so that I can mill around and enjoy the view on my terms … with no remaining structure Feltham qualifies as a mid season exception.

Feltham specs-


Clockwise pano …. Pinyon Peak at center







This last photo is of the Beaver Creek drainage that we are now headed down ….


The area is heavily burned from the Halstead Fire, but still pleasant to ride through …. the Lodge Pole Pine is pretty small in diameter, easy enough to hop with a bike, but if in a truck… I would carry a saw.


The Beaver Creek/Pinyon Peak Loop Road (172) eventually connects to the Seafoam/Vanity Summit Road (008)…

5th gear-


We’re making good time when we roll up on a logging operation that was just finishing up loading a truck …. only delayed a few minutes.


Hwy 21-


A quick blast down Hwy 21 puts us back onto the Bear Valley – Landmark/Stanley Rd (198)


Our next destination is Deadwood Reservoir. We will pass along the North side of Bear Valley following Elk Creek.

To be continued ….







Winds over Pinyon – Part 7

The road continues with a final few gradual switchbacks before cresting the ridge ….. The ridgeline is right above the tree line leaving little protection from the wind. My guess is that the wind blows pretty much non stop as the few trees that are around have that permanent lean.

Final turn-


We stop at the saddle right below the peak and walk out a short distance to a open knoll with full 360 deg views.

View starting south and panning north ….







Pics or it didn’t happen-



We remount and continue up the road to the lookout cutoff…


We contemplate making the run to the top, but with hazy conditions and the lookout still manned, we decide to forego the summit for another trip. I visited this lookout a couple of years back on a crystal clear day and the views are amazing! …. Pinyon is one of those “have to do at least once per year” rides.

Pics from my previous visit ….







That day I was stop just before the saddle ….


Pinyon Peak Fun Facts

Pinyon Peak Specs

We are still about 20 miles out from our reconnection to Hwy 21, so we push on. The Pinyon Peak Loop Road runs along the ridgeline for approx. 7-8 miles before dropping into the Beaver Creek drainage.



Shelf road-


Kidney Lake-



To be continued ….




Winds over Pinyon – Part 6

As dawn draws near the valley darkness starts to fade with the sun making it’s presence known just beyond the eastern ridge. Rested, we emerge from our tents with breakfast and coffee as our main priority.


Breakdown and packing ensues as we all know that we have a full day of riding ahead of us just to make it back home …


From our camp spot, we will be connecting Rd 172, Pinyon Peak Loop Rd, up out of the Loon Creek drainage.


The road climbs steadily exposing the surrounding topography …. high ridges in front of us and river drainages just off the exposed side …. definitely gods country!




The road climbs up towards a sort of dog leg where it veers south towards the peak. At that point we pass the old Packer John Mine. Curiosity demands that we stop for a quick look.

Buildings of past times ….






Mess Hall-


Rec Hall-


Main Office-


John V enjoying some morning sun-




Right about that time two guys emerged from the backside of the claim … they confirmed that  they were of the original family that owned the claim …. and that we were indeed trespassing! … “Time to post some new signs, eh”

Friendly enough they chatted briefly about history of the area. Respecting their space we geared back up and proceeded up the road.

Pinyon Peak-


We enter the burn area left behind by the Halstead Fire from a handful of years back. This fire burned fast and hot consuming a large swath of acreage. I feel unfortunate to not have seen this country before the burn.

Never know what one might find alongside the road-



We continue our push towards the ridge and closer to the peak ….

To be continued….

Winds over Pinyon – Part 5

As we point our bikes up Rd 172 the track starts to narrow and the trees begin to close in, indicative of a more primitive road. We approach the first minor switchback where the road begins to start it’s climb up towards Loon Creek Summit, we take notice of a fairly large primitive camp spot down off the road.  This is the first “Non-Campground” spot we have determined worthy of inspection. The spot is spacious and otherwise not too bad, but a fair hike from water … we ride on.

The road begins to climb and wind around switchbacks making it obvious that we are gaining elevation quickly. Right before the final turn at the top we stop and take notice of the drainage we just road up as with the now quiet Sunbeam Mine.


Final gap before the top …


Loon Creek Summit –


Right as we crest the summit we cross paths with a group of KLR’s working there way out … as we’re chatting one of the riders appears to be in a bit of discomfort.  It is then disclosed that he is riding with an injured foot …. no doubt a product of some midnight refreshment induced hooliganism of the previous evening … and with little sympathy from his riding buddies. My guess was that this guys injury was cutting their stay short and they were making a late day run back to Boise to get checked out.

We drop down the back side of the summit where the road runs along Mayfield Creek. The views along the upper stretch are awesome, but regrettably since the day was running long I failed to stop along this stretch for pictures …. next time.

As we work our way down Mayfield Creek and towards Loon Creek we pass a number of camp spots … the first nice one was of course occupied, the next was a nice spot, but with a lot of noticeable dead snags around the camp area waiting to fall on an unsuspecting tent with the first real wind… we’re near the bottom so we continued on.

….. Loon Creek GS and the Diamond D Ranch


The Diamond D is one of those off the grid remote ranches that have carved themselves a niche as a vacation destination … a beautiful spot for those looking to get away, but I still default to the adage of … “Your vacation is my weekend”

Our sights at this point are on a little campground a few miles down the road called Tin Cup. Right as we pass the ranch and make the turn towards Tin Cup an opening comes into view on our right, a trailhead actually … I make a hard right turn to inspect … nice open view, Loon Creek in close walking distance, a table, and no people … we have a winner!


Tents are set up, bikes are allowed to rest, dust from the day rinsed off in the creek, water on boil for dinner, and evening libations are pulled from panniers.


We spend the rest of the evening enjoying company, sharing past adventures, and solving most of the worlds problems. Then to turn in in preparation for the next oncoming day ….

…. To be continued





Winds over Pinyon – Part 4

Reconnecting to our next section of pavement was a pleasant reprieve to kick up the pace and blow off some dust… Although only for a few short miles since we will be jumping back onto the dirt at the Horn to follow Rd 203 (Cape Horn Rd). Cape Horn Rd parallels the paved Hwy 21 for approx. 7-8 miles before reconnecting.

Rd 203-


The views of the Stanley Valley start to open up, but unfortunately with continued lingering smoke from recent wildfires…. absent smoke … the views are amazing! Rains of weekends past, while extinguished most all of Idaho’s wildfires … Washington and Oregon are still ablaze with jet stream winds directing the smoke into Idaho’s back yard.


My hope is that as we change our direction north we will find the edge of the smoke allowing the views to open up.

We ride the next few paved miles into Stanley where we take advantage of the next fuel stop. From this point I have estimated our loop over Pinyon and into Garden Valley to be somewhere around 130-140 miles. Well within our fuel range, but not with much to spare …. we stuff our tanks.

The days plans are open ended …. I figured we could camp anywhere around Stanley … the afternoon is still young so we opt to grab some lunch and refreshment at the Bridge Street Grill in Lower Stanley to decide our next move.


Bellies full and refreshments consumed … we opt to continue down Hwy 75 towards Sunbeam and our turn off towards the Yankee Fork. We’ll keep our eyes and options open for just the right camp spot.

The paved stretch of Hwy 75 from Stanley to Sunbeam is fantastic fun. The road rides the edge with the beautiful Salmon River on the right and sheer rock walls along the left. There is hardly a straight stretch of road allowing a nice workout of our tires perimeter lugs.


Most all of the camp spots along this stretch are associated with designated camp grounds …. some are pretty nice and mostly vacant, but not what were after this day. So we push on to Sunbeam and the Yankee Fork Rd.

Sunbeam Dam (past)-


Sunbeam Dam (Present)-


Built back in 1909 to supply power to the operating mines and dredge of Yankee Fork …. the price of ore dropped negating the economic feasibility to continue extracting. The dam ceased operating in 1911. A caretaker maintained the structure for a number of years until the fish ladders reached disrepair, which at that time the most feasible option was to breech the dam restoring normal river flow.



We turn off Hwy 75 at the Sunbeam Village and head up the Yankee Fork Rd. The Yankee Fork Rd runs along a North/South valley with mountains of the Salmon/Challis Nation Forest looming in the distance. The soil/rock makeup of these mountains differs from the mountains we have already ridden by and through. As the sun hits the mountains they take on a majestic red hue.

Yankee Fork Rd (First image from a past ride)-



We speed along the Yankee Fork Road still looking for a camp spot …. after about 10-12 miles we pass Bonanza and the they old Yankee Fork Dredge.

Yankee Fork Dredge (

Yankee Fork Gold Dredge operated from 1940-1952 near near Custer Historic Site, in Idaho, USA. This floating gold dredge chewed a wide swath of stream gravel leaving rocky dredge tailings along 5.5 miles of the Yankee Fork, a tributary of the Salmon River, near Stanley, Idaho, USA. It recovered an estimated $1,037,322 in gold and silver at a cost of $1,076,100. Visit Land of the Yankee Fork State Park in Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley, Idaho.
Yankee Fork Gold Dredge operated from 1940-1952 near near Custer Historic Site, in Idaho, USA. This floating gold dredge chewed a wide swath of stream gravel leaving rocky dredge tailings along 5.5 miles of the Yankee Fork, a tributary of the Salmon River, near Stanley, Idaho, USA. It recovered an estimated $1,037,322 in gold and silver at a cost of $1,076,100. Visit Land of the Yankee Fork State Park in Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley, Idaho.


In most cases of dredge history the dredges operated at a high level of profit, not such the case for the Yankee Fork Dredge. The dredge now sits as a tourist attraction with guided tours available.

The old Ghost Town of Custer is located about a mile up the Custer Motorway with the Forest Service maintain the history of the site for visitors.

Custer (Images from past ride)-





Today we bypass Custer and turn up Rd 172. Rd 172 turns off directly behind the dredge and takes us up towards Loon Creek Summit. Still on the lookout for just the right camp spot ….

Custer and the dredge are highly recommended for anyone to visit should they have an interest for old mining history. I myself find all mining history, the good and the bad, interesting as it has shaped the country that we live in with roads, infrastructure, towns, etc. It is a nice ride… or drive.

To be continued …..