In search of new roads – Take 1

“True adventure lies in the road ahead”

I find myself always chasing new roads. Paved roads, dirt roads, improved roads, primitive roads, forest roads …. all roads that lead around the next corner or over the next hill. These are the roads that make adventure. Riding over those hills and around those curves feeds our curiosity to continue riding forward. It entices that seeded sense of exploration that all of us have in one shape or form.

For some time I have wondered about a route that would connect us from the small community of Crouch Idaho, just north of Boise, and over the hill into Long Valley. I know the route exists, this is just country I have not spent much time in other than riding a few of the single track trails in the area.

Our weather the last few days has been scattered with a bit of rain, but is forecasted to start clearing. The call goes out for a ride!

My friend John E answers the call and we plan a meeting spot on Bogus Basin Road with a plan to ride over Bogus and the Ridge Road.

John on the mighty 690 and myself on the Z … we make short work of the fun and twisty 16 mile section to the Bogus basin Ski Area.

Time to break and adjust layers ….

The heat of the Summer had not yet set in …. Winter snow had been holding a tight grip on the high mountain routes with reports of the ridge road just opening up.

The Ridge Road, which I’ve spoken of often as it being a popular connecting route to Garden Valley or Idaho City areas, flows unassuming along the ridge line towards Harris Creek Summit. Along the way you’ll pass a stand of mature Ponderosa Pines that I always have to stop and admire.

The Boise Ridge Road (374) deposits us onto Harris Creek Summit. While dropping down to Harris Creek I spot dust plumes in the distance which is an indicator of an annual event called the Idaho Rally.  As cool as the event is I always seem to find myself entangled in their spider web of course selections.

John E and the 690

FR 374

We ride into Placerville to find the town center, more or less a grassy park, to be the staging and pit area for the rally participants. We inquire with the local EMT’s as to which roads are effected by the days events and they confirm that FR 615 over Alder Creek Summit is being kept open into Garden Valley…. that’s a win this being our intended route and a detour could have cost us quite a few miles.

Placerville City Center

Alder Creek Summit

We successfully make it to the Banks/Lowman Hwy. With no traffic and great road conditions we steer the bikes towards Garden Valley/Crouch. We’ll top off fuel before heading up the Middle Fork of the Payette and for me on this day parts unknown.




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 2

Concluding our “coffee relief” break at the summit, we point the bikes towards the downstream side and shove off. Headed now towards Lowman we will be turning off the pavement just a few miles down the road onto Rd 588. This trip is going to be a combination of hardtop and dirt with the bias being more towards the terra, however I do enjoy a balanced combination of both as jumping onto some nice hardtop after a dirt section can be a nice mental change of pace.

RD 588 is a nice 5-6 mile dirt section that skirts the backside of pilot Peak, opening up with pleasant views of both Deadwood Ridge and the Clear Creek drainage we will be heading up shortly.


Hwy 21 …. 6 miles –


We’re headed into those hills –


obrianmcc –


John E and the mighty 690 –


On top of the regular Forest Service roads Idaho is also a scattering of State Endowment Lands and  Forest Products properties …. all of these areas are packed full of access roads that provide connections that we as Dual Sport Riders utilize extensively to connect the dots on our route maps.

Respect your resources if you wish to keep access! …. Leave no trace, other than maybe a loamy tire track or two!


We reconnect with Hwy 21 and blast down 10 miles of super fun pavement before connecting with our next dirt track, Rd 582 otherwise known as Bear Valley Rd.


Next stop Bear Valley –


And then this! –


….. to be continued!




Winds over Pinyon – Part 1

‘”For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

With a long and hot summer now behind us and recent rains over the past Labor Day weekend extinguishing most all of the seasons wildfires, adventure is back in the air.

I’ve been contemplating for a few weeks now on a route appropriate for a quick end of the season trip. My first choice being over Dollarhide Summit, Ketchum, Mackay, and through the Pahsimeroi’s … but good ole Murphy had to step in and cause a significant washout on RD 227 between Fairfield and Dollarhide leaving the road impassable.  So, on to plan B, except I have no plan B? …. after all Idaho is an expanse of open space and it shouldn’t be that hard to find another route. A reach out to my two riding partners for this trip, John V and John E reaffirmed that all participants were still in regardless of destination.

I break out the map book, which naturally points me towards Stanley ID with my eye catching the little squiggly line down Hwy 75 to check out Bayhorse, Challis, the Custer Motorway, through Yankee Fork, and back over Pinyon Peak . The original plan was to depart on a Friday to break up the loop into three days of riding, but work commitments interfered reducing the trip down to two days and shortening the route to just Yankee Fork and Pinyon.

Now, I’m naturally one to stick pretty tight to routes and schedules, but I’m stepping out and breaking my mold on this trip with just a basic destination/direction and we’ll see where we land at days end. Yes, against my nature, but the route is good with some beautiful country to pass through and camping off a motorcycle allows for more camp spot opportunities.

We scheduled our meet up for Saturday AM. We would then rally up Rocky Canyon Road, over Aldalpe Summit, down through Robie Creek connecting Hwy 21 into Idaho City.

OBR ADV Gear luggage packed and leaving the house –


First stop Aldalpe Summit –


Weapons of choice for this trip would by John V and Myself on almost identical 2006 DRZ 400 E’s and John E on a 690 Enduro KTM ….

We connect Hwy 21 and make the run into Idaho City. Traffic is light, which makes for a nice twisty morning run alongside Moores Creek. John E’s 690 has significantly longer legs on the hardtop than our DRZ’s. John V and myself have geared the DRZ’s a little bit low to still be able to ride trails, but regardless of how well they are running, still no match for the 690!

Low water at Robie (Lucky Peak Reservoir)-


Idaho City, getting gas and checking in –


Idaho City is a remnant of mining’s past. Mostly a tourist attraction with the old boardwalks and shops about. Tragically this summer, a fire broke out within one of the old buildings and burned a few right to the ground.

John V and I top off our tanks. The DRZ’s are running aftermarket tanks with an extended range to approx. 175 miles. John V has also chosen to bring along his 1 gal Rotopax extending another 50 miles, but Idaho backcountry roads can be deceiving in length, so when a refueling opportunity presents itself … we partake. Now the 690 is short of a super tanker with it’s Safari Tank…. requiring fewer fuel stops.

We head up Hwy 21 towards Moores Creek Summit ….

Not a straight road-

IMG_6315 - Copy

Arrival at Moores Creek Summit –


We’ve made good time to the summit with John E in the lead. Unfortunately he has to wait a few minutes as John V was required to lift my bike off me as I lay pinned on the side of the road. I failed to remember that I had gear bags strapped to the back of the bike and when I stopped to snap a pic of the “not straight” road sign I attempted to swing a leg over and found myself on the ground! … good to get that one out of the way early!

Hwy 21 from Idaho City to Lowman is part of the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway and is comprised of 30 miles of motorcycle nirvana. The next 30 minutes did not suck!





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.