There are many paths through the Ring of Life. They are a constant movement toward self-fulfillment through growth of your mind.”
– Frosty Wooldridge, Golden, Colorado
With a mild Spring and the urge to ride becoming more persistent, my friend John E sent out a txt …. “weather looks good, we should ride Immigrant Rd and Prairie“. The route we had in mind was attempted about a month prior, but rains helped to maintain the roads in a slimy muddy condition that forced a postponement. However with sun in our forecast … this weekend we shall not be denied!
The first part of our days route will actually be following a section of the old Oregon Trail otherwise known today as the Oregon Trail Back Country Byway. As the Oregon Trail extended northwest from the Snake River plain, it followed along the foothills of the Danskin Mountains on what we know today as Foothills Rd passing through old stage stops and Mayfield pointing towards Boise.
While our equipment is not quite as primitive as from the day …. the remoteness of the route still reflects the solitude that must have been felt along this section of trail.
Fueled up I point the DRZ towards John E’s house. The air is cool and perfect allowing the Z to properly atomize the on board fuel translating into flawless forward propulsion. I connect with John E and we head onto another staging point where we meet up with another friend of Johns … Mike who will also be joining us on this loop. John E and Mike typically ride mid week taking advantage of less congested roads, but they make an exception this weekend to accommodate my 9-5 schedule. We’ll refer to Mike as Honda Mike in this write up due to the 650 XR that Mike was saddled up on this day!
John E and the Mighty 690!
We start our journey down Hubbard Lane …. a snake like country road that consists of nice flow. John E and Honda Mike, both being on 600 plus cc fire breathers wick up the pace leaving my mortal 400 to play catch up!
After Hubbard we point our fenders east along Kuna/Mora Rd with Backs Creek positioned right along the tip of our visors.
John E and Honda Mike stop to let their beasts take a breather. They’ve been twisting it hard enough on the last stretch that we need to let some of the atomized air molecules catch up! … We reconnect along the Blacks Creek turnoff. At this point we are officially on the byway beginning as Slater Flat Rd, Foothills Rd, eventually connecting with Immigrant Rd.
Fresh knobbies were indeed harmed in the making of this ride!
Redneck target practice-
Mileage for this day is a little bit unknown. My DRZ will reliably get 160-175 miles out of my Clarke 3.6. I can extend another 50 miles with my Rotopax that is carried on my rear rack, and about another 20-25 miles from a couple of fuel bottles carried over my tank in my OBR ADV Gear Fuel Bottle Wraps. A 250 mile range should be good for today.
Foothills Rd flows smooth and fast over dragons backs and around hidden curves. The surface consists of hard dry pack with sections of loose gravel (that can turn to impassable mud if it is raining). Attention is a must if one is to avoid overshooting a turn.
Foothills Green with prehistoric stone-
Big Sky- John E and Honda Mike
Foothills Rd continues it’s south easterly path skirting the sage brush edge and the transition up into the Danskin Mountains first passing by the old ruins of Mayfield.
First point of interest would be Inscription Rock. Travelers of the Oregon Tail would lay over in the immediate draw. When boredom would win over few would write their initials on the rock using wagon grease.
Foothills Rd eventually bumps into Rd 167 (seen extending up into the hills in this shot) which climbs up towards Danskin Peak Lookout and connects to a few trailheads.
Over the horizon-
Yonder getting closer-
Speeds naturally pick up through this section spreading out the group a bit, which is good as it allows a few moments for the drifting dust to clear out.
As the road continues its meandering path we crest over a rise only to quickly drop into a little creek side oasis known as Canyon Creek. This was another known lay over point for wary trail travelers with an actual stage stop being built sometime around the latter 1800’s.
Just past Canyon Creek the road splits and we jump onto Immigrant Rd to the east.
Over the pass-
The valley from which we came-
Over the hill to Hwy 20, our next stop-
Once on Hwy 20, we make a 5-6 mile run to Prairie Rd otherwise known as Cow Creek Rd. Cow Creek Rd is subject to winter closures, but with our recent stretch of good weather it should be open.
Cow Creek is a nice transition road that eventually drops you down into the South Fork of the Boise River, but not before displaying still green mountain tops with a contrast of snow.
Cow Creek Bridge-
We point our bikes north and run along the river for a few miles before Rd 131 starts it’s ascent away from the waters edge and out of the canyon.
This stretch of the South Fork of the Boise below the Anderson Ranch Dam is a very popular stretch if you are keen on fly fishing. It is for the most part a catch and release section with monster trout if your so lucky to hook into one.
That’s a view-
Out of the canyon, we are now running over the Prairie Plateau.
Next stop Y Stop-
Our next planned rally point is to be the Y Stop, a local store/cafe’. From there we will grab some lunch and seek out local intel on snow conditions and whether or not we might be able to make it over Long Gulch to the Middle Fork.
Reports or in our favor …
Long Gulch runs about 20 miles to the North out of Prairie. The road winds over a couple of passes (hence the snow intel) and through a few valleys. There is a mixture of open range land and recovering timber corridors from past fires. This particular stretch of road is really nice in the Fall once the Aspen trees change color.
-Pressing on through one of those valleys
Honda Mike takes point as John E and I leap frog each other on our way to the Middle Fork ….
-John E stunting it up across the Long Gulch/Middle Fork Bridge
From here we continue our run west towards Arrowrock Reservoir passing by what ends up being the hords of lake sheep clustered together like cattle at a feed trough. BLM patrols … Boats and Jet Ski’s racing in every which direction as a simple reminder of why we enjoy dual sporting like we do … to escape such chaos!
The day is running long. We make Hwy 21 and promptly point our rides towards Boise. My mileage registers approx. 170 miles … I make note of this as my bike sputters to a stop before I can activate my reserve. No worries though … my 1 gal Rotopax sits in reserve on my rear rack.
-Top side of Arrowrock
-Bottom side image from a previous ride
…. and so comes the time at the conclusion of each ride where we split off on our own separate ways until the next ride!