Over the hill and around the next corner … that is what drives adventure!
Continuing up Rd 172 … it’s almost like a new road. Creeks that I’ve passed by a few times in the opposite direction present themselves in a different light.
Cliff Creek …. who’s Cliff?
I pass by a number of over grown tracks that I decide explore…. they all eventually conclude as old hunting camps …. (I’m making mental notes of potential camp spots for future trips and the fact that they all have accessible water)
Over the bridge and up the next hill ….
No name lake …
NW Overlook …
I stop at the first saddle … the overlook is to the East. The valley is vast as are all the burned trees… Oh what this must have been with Green timber.
Pano … and were not even to the top yet!
(One of these days I’ll purchase the software that will allow me to stitch photos, but for now I’m too cheap)
Continue the climb … so far the road is relatively easy, but do take into account I’m on a light bike. A fully loaded ADV bike will require a bit more skill and attention.
Finally reaching the ridge… the road snakes its way along a precipitous edge.
Now into the wilderness … Rd 172 runs along a 100 yd easement into Loon Creek.
An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, river rafting or participating in extreme sports. The term also broadly refers to any enterprise that is potentially fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk, such as a business venture, a love affair, or other major life undertakings . ~ Wikipedia
Adventure, whether it be on two feet, two wheels or four …. I find is necessary to cleanse the soul. Too many consecutive days of alarm clocks, project deadlines, and repetitive life cycles requires one to break from the life mold. I find that adventure can be experienced through a single days journey or of many, but the desired outcome is the same …. a clearing of the mind, rejuvenation of the body, and cleansing of the psyche.
My ride time so far this season has fallen short of expectation. Usually by the time that mid summer rolls around I have multiple trips logged with many adventures to share. This season has proven to be a bit more challenging in terms of commitments and scheduling, so when a weekend opened up …. a cleansing of the psyche was needed!
Electing to not ride from the house poses the next question of where to ride? …. Trailering to some might seem counter intuitive to the concept of dual sporting, but I find that staging spots an hour or two out from the house helps to provide more quality track time vs spending most of the day riding transition.
This past Fall we completed a counter clockwise loop over Pinyon Peak. Caught early enough before the thick air created by the heat of Summer or inevitable wildfires … the views from Pinyon can only be classified as amazing.
I have only been over Pinyon a handful of times and each have been in the counter clockwise rotation. My one attempt at a clockwise circumnavigation was thwarted by a ominous snow drift just past the lookout.
So today will be perfect for another clockwise attempt …..
-Seafoam Rd, North off Hwy 21
-Wilderness Kiosk …. Idaho’s wilderness is rapidly evolving into forests of burned timber …. a long topic for another day!
From here of venture onto Rd 172, Beaver Creek Rd.
Which is evidently steep and narrow …
I contemplate the risk …
… and off I go
…. over the hill and around the next bend … to be continued.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ….
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.
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 ….
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.
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 ….
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.
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 (Photoseek.com)-
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.
After a fast 10 mile run up Rd 582 the road departs from the creek side and starts to climb up towards Clear Creek Summit. The road bed switches from loose gravel to a more typical dry slick surface with meandering rain ruts and embedded rock. As I near the top I start to feel a loose sensation from the back of my bike ….. a quick glance at my rear tire confirms that it is indeed going flat. I’m nearing the top, so I ride the noodle the last 100 yards or so to the summit.
7050 feet –
Right when I hop off the bike and start breaking out my tools, another rider (not from our group) on a Triumph Tiger rolls up and asks if he can hang while we tackle the flat. Regrettably I can’t remember his name, super nice guy from Canada riding the IDBR. His goal for the day was Burgdorf Hot Springs, so he picked our brains for some local knowledge on the route.
I was thankful that he chose to stop. I discovered during my road side tire service that I had neglected to include a 13mm wrench for my bead lock and neither John V nor John E had one either. Our Canadian friend had a full kit including a 13mm …. and he even broke out his electric air pump! …. I like those Canadians!
We immediately identified the flat tire culprit …. a brand spanking new framing nail! …. of all places to pick up a framing nail?
We pulled the wheel, using my trail stand for the first time (worked great suspending the rear of the bike while the rear wheel was removed) and made short work of swapping out a new tube. I will make sure to add in a 13mm to my OBR ADV Gear Tool Roll!
Tube exchanged and wheel back on … we extended our thanks to our new friend for his assistance and parted ways.
Just over the summit the road drops into a high meadow we refer to as Bear Valley. Passing through the meadow in the spring right after the thaw you’ll find yourself amongst vast wild flowers …. this time of year, early Fall, the surroundings are just as impressive, but with just a bit less color.
Bear Valley has quite a history … the area was used extensively for sheep and cattle grazing with buildings still present within some of the large meadows that skirt the valley. The situation at the time required the local Forest Rangers to mediate between competing ranch outfits using the area for summer grazing. Beyond the grazing there was also a large mining presence during the early Cold War. Evidently the area contains a rare radioactive mineral essential to the strategic defense systems of the day. Heavy dredging took place from 1958-1959. In an effort to restore Salmon/Steelhead spawning beds, an extensive rehabilitation project was completed that returned the meadow landscape and the Salmon/Steelhead runs.
We continue along Rd 582 skirting the south edge of Bear Valley Creek passing through Bruce Meadows. Note – For you pilots out there, Bruce Meadows has one of Idaho’s many back country landing strips.
While walking the perimeter observation deck enjoying the view I take notice that someone before me has pried the lock mechanism from the door jam. My curiosity gets the better of me, so I take a quick look inside.
The interior is simple and tidy. Obviously cleaned up and organized after it’s last occupant …. which my guess was some time ago. Area maps still in place ….. although the turntable has long since been removed. The aged interior makes one take thought of decades of summers past when this lookout was staffed. What was life like on top of this peak. Did the people who staffed this lookout appreciate every sunset and sunrise, or did it turn into just another monotonous task that had to be done?
I close and re-secure the door ….
View down the roads final stretch just below the peak ….
Even in the day when the road was probably a bit more maintained I can’t imagine it being a very fun drive up …. only visited by ATV’s and Motorcycles these days.
I enjoy a bit more of the view before contemplating my accent …
My ride down from the peak is quick and uneventful … Right below the peak there is a trail that peels off the road on the north side. I’ve ridden up this trail once. It was super fun, but does have some exposure that would make any kind of incident while riding solo problematic, so I remain true to the road.
Deer Park …
I make my way past Deer Park and along the North Fork Boise to Barber Flat … from Barber Flat you can either ride back over the mountain to Alexander Flat or over Rabbit Creek Summit into Idaho City.
I point the direction of Rd 327 to Rabbit Creek Summit and Idaho City ….
Idaho City below
Reconnecting with Hwy 21 and refueling in Idaho City…. I enjoy a nice paced ride back to Robie Creek, over Rocky Canyon, and back to Boise ….. ride time was right around 6 hrs with a daily mileage at approx. 150 miles…. an easy day ride from town.
The road up to Swanholm is a few miles up Swanholm Creek Rd, very unassuming, not well marked, and turning off eastward through a series of old logging roads turned ATV trails ….. right before the Barber Flat trail.
Today with an open gate ….
Sun bleached sign warning of a not so maintained road ….
The start of the climb is as I remember, but the further I ascend I take note to how loose and rocky the track has become …. obvious in spots to be more of a creek during the Spring run off. I try my best to maintain some essence of momentum to keep cooling air flowing through my radiators in hopes to avoid any boil over.
The inevitable ….
The bike eventually starts to hiss, so I chose to stop for a cool down in hopes to avoid any actual coolant loss.
While the bike cools I wander about taking in the view as it starts to present itself …
Up trail …
The “rolling over loose softball sized rock” climb up thus far reminds me very much of a ride into Goat Lake taken last season with a friend of mine … Jason.
The run back along the ridge was quick …. you know how the exit of an area always seems to take less time than the run in… this was the case today.
I reconnected to road 375 right below Monumental Summit. from there I started my way west, dropping in elevation towards the Stibnite drainage. RD 375 from this point is in really good shape… an easy ride.
As I enter the Stibnite Mine area I notice a few sign boards along the road side. The boards tell the story of the Stibnite Mine from it’s early days and through the proceeding decades.
There are a few remnants within the trees, but nothing of any significance. I continue on ….
Modern day activity is present at the mine … I can hear the faint sound of running equipment and the company operating the current exploratory and reclamation project has areas of concern gated off. The main road through the site however is open for public travel.
I continue about a 1/4 mile down the road and on my right a large pit opens up into view. There is an observation platform built along with additional information on the pit. Evidently this is the pit from the old Stibnite Mine along with some of the old remaining buildings.
With the pit in my rear view … .I continue my backtrack towards Yellow Pine.