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The Tour of Idaho
  

The 2018, 13th edition of the Tour, like the 2017 version, will feature jersey numbers for finishers (currently at #52). The 2018 Tour also marks the official return of the popular  "challenge point" system. For 2018 the Tour has nine trail days and covers 1600+ miles.

Everyone is free to use the route information provided here in any manner they please. The trails that comprise the Tour are on public land. There are no guides and no one makes any money off this endeavor other than those who sold you what you need to ride a dirt bike in the wilds and merchants along the way. All that we do here at MoJazz is publish maps, a route description and then go out and saw/maintain a lot of trail. You are welcome to the fruits of our efforts and most of you will be seraphically happy to go out there, ride and just have fun on your own terms. But to participate in the event known as the Tour of Idaho one must accept a few additional challenges.

The route the Tour follows has been ridden many times. Most of the trails are of no more than intermediate difficulty (our kids ride them with us on small bikes) and though they are a blast to experience, the mere act of stringing them all together is not an accomplishment of boundless magnitude. Fun? Absolutely. Special? Not in a spectacular sense. The Tour of Idaho is quite different than just riding the trails along the way. In 12 years there have been only 52 riders to finish the Tour of Idaho. Failure is far more common than success. The Tour is an undertaking that requires a relatively uncommon set of skills (riding a motorcycle being only one among many), a lot of planning and some dedication. It's akin to the difference between riding Baja as a participant in the 1000 or as a tourist - two completely different experiences.

Tour of Idaho participants are expected to attempt the route in small groups (no more than three) without any support (no friends, family members, significant others or erstwhile Tour riding partners anywhere close to the route, no help with navigation or anything else except what you find along the way). Tour riders have nine trail days to finish but are allowed (and very strongly advised) to take a day off in Pocatello. No other off days are allowed. The "no support" part of this is a core principle of the Tour. You are not permitted to ship anything to a location along the route or prearrange fuel drops. You must either carry everything you intend to use with you or purchase it along the way. Yes, you read that right - no help and no supply drops.

Despite what your owner's manual says you can get all the way through the Tour without an oil change and without an air filter change (especially if you use filter skins).
Tour of Idaho

Tour participants are expected to ride all of the trails along the current route using only our 2018 tracks and maps, to provide beacon links for live tracking and to submit a gps route file within three days of finishing the ride. Each day contains a minimum of two challenge points. All challenge points must be verified with a selfie posted to our 2018 Facebook group with the hashtag #tourofIdaho (use this same hashtag on your personal social media as well). This should be done as soon as possible (many CPs are in places where you may upload your photo immediately) but definitely no later than the evening after they were taken unless a data connection is not possible (which can happen in a few places).

Camas

Most days have an optional challenge section (not the same as challenge points, which are not optional). Groups must complete a number of challenge sections equal to the number of riders in the group (up to three - the largest group size allowed). Some of the challenge sections are long, some are technically challenging, some are difficult to navigate and some are all of the above. Once you choose to begin a challenge section you must either complete it or turn around and back track to the original route then continue as if you'd not attempted the challenge section. No bailing out in the middle of a challenge section unless along a route designated for that purpose.

The Tour is technically open from July through most of September. Most years those planning an early Tour (end of July or earlier) will spend a lot of time sawing trails or log hopping. Soloists are advised to start out no earlier than early August.

Under no circumstances should any Tour rider use a trail that is marked closed. If a trail is closed (for fire, erosion or any other reason) it is not required to complete the Tour. The only expectation is that you rejoin the Tour route as soon as possible and do not use a detour to gain an advantage that would not be possible on the normal route. We grant exceptions to the "ride 'em all" rule for fires. In some seasons large sections of the Tour are unfortunately closed due to fire. In that event it's just not possible to finish. Riding a closed trail, for any reason, is a very likely DNF. Not being able to find a trail, or not being able to properly interpret a trail sign, is not the same as a closed trail. 

Any significant deviation from the published Tour route or the practices outlined above is considered a DNF (soloists have a bit more leeway than teams, but not much). Tour participants must join the Facebook group, the Facebook Riders group, consent to beacon tracking (the Garmin/DeLorme InReach SE is highly recommended) and must submit their complete track log for inspection within three days of finishing the route.

As you can see the Tour of Idaho is a whole lot of work for little more than a bunch of folks monitoring your progress on their laptops and smart phones cheering you on. The effort to reward ratio is almost completely upside down. You will suffer greatly for almost no glory and very little tangible reward. Many will fail to finish. Many have ridden what they considered to be "95%" of the route but did not qualify as finishers. The details count. The Tour is as much a journey through one's own soul as anything else and is less a motorcycle ride than a bodacious outdoor adventure that happens to take place on a motorcycle. If you are just looking to check off another motorcycle ride you'd be way better off riding the route on your own terms or doing a BDR - where the odds of success are much higher and Interwebs bragging rights far easier to obtain (no slight intended, both options rock). 

But, if after pondering all of this, doing something much bigger than you just for the hell of it still seems like a good idea, read on.


Chinese Peak
Moonrise and Sunset at Chinese Peak

Feel free to check out the Tour of Idaho Facebook group for up to date information. The group is open (except during Tour season) so anyone may explore the content without being a member. You should request to become a member only if you are serious about attempting the Tour (you must read the group description before asking to be admitted and there is some light screening). You'll also need to join the 2018 riders group before you set off.
Because of the amount of time required to properly prepare for the Tour no new members are accepted into either group once Tour season begins (in July of each year) until Tour season finishes (in September).

You will also find our forum, FAQ and home page to be useful resources.

Now down to brass tacks. There are three things that you'll need in order to maximize your educational experience here. 1) The patience and perseverance to read for comprehension (years of bitter experience have taught us that many Tour aspirants have minimal talent for this). 2) The capacity to fully grasp navigation and all of its nuance. 3) The skill to read a map and route book.

The 2018 route maps are available on this page (below) along with a 2018 Route Book (a condensed version of the route description below). The route files for 2018 contain widely-spaced waypoints (no bread crumbs anymore) so map study in advance of arriving at the start of the Tour is advised. The route changes every year and you will need to use this year's data in order to obtain the requisite number of challenge points to succeed. Every year at least one party shows up with a track they got from somewhere other than this site (a previous year's track is typical). If you do that we'll almost certainly figure it out and the odds are high you'll earn a DNF.

The ability to use a map, along with your route book and gps to navigate between points, is a large part of completing the Tour. This is deliberate and Tour vets almost uniformly describe navigation as not only one of the biggest challenges of completing the Tour (easily rivaling the riding skill required), but an estimable part of the fun. Our approach allows you to engage the route months before you are physically riding it and provides a rewarding (we are told) navigational challenge above and beyond following a line on an iPhone. Call it old school if you like. At any rate weeks of map study and navigational preparation are advised and our methods are designed to encourage you to do just that.

The best way to prepare for Tour navigation in advance is to reconcile our maps and the route book with our gpx route files and notes you make from uploading and observing the entire route on Google Earth. Though this may seem excessive for those weaned on following route files i
t will pay off on the Tour. If you take the time to do this I can almost guarantee that you will have little difficulty navigating the actual route when you get there.

For all GPS units here are the 2018 gpx files (right click and save): D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9. Please read this before you email us about GPS files.

2018 maps (100K): D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9, 500K map. The 2018 Route Book. 2018 Challenge Points.

The longest gas-less distance for 2018 will be about 230 miles and you'll have to manage this twice - very workable on most large desert tanks along with a Giant Loop fuel bladder or two.

We have an extensive collection of Tour of Idaho videos on our YouTube page. The SNOTEL page provides valuable information about the nature of snow levels on many passes along the Tour. Both ARCGIS and the Idaho Parks and Recreation OHV website have interactive maps with very high resolution views of the trails for the entire Tour. These maps are an invaluable resource for road/trail numbers, opening and closing dates - there's even an Inciweb layer available. For fire information check out the Idaho Inciweb page. The Idaho Digital Atlas contains a wealth of useful information about the Tour route. We also highly recommend the Roadside Geology of Idaho, an indispensable pre-ride winter read. 
 
Don't mess around. We recommend the best for the Tour of Idaho. KLIM RMATVMC Jimmy Lewis Off Road
TT
Jimmy Lewis does the Tour of Idaho



A trail is much more than a line on a map - it's the sum of of the efforts of all who worked to make it a reality. We owe a great debt of gratitude to several individuals who helped us wrestle this epic off of our laptops and into the great outdoors.

Tracy J. Gravelle, the trails coordinator for the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest,  spent hours with us on the phone and in exchanges of email planning the route through the St. Joe. Stacy Baker and Dusty Baker of the Challis District provided much useful assistance. The Challis district, btw, has the best trail crew in the state.

Members of the Elk City Dust Devils ATV club are among the most helpful and gracious off-roaders it's been our pleasure to meet. They provided invaluable assistance in helping us with the area from the Magruder Road to Lowell.

Many thanks to Donn Dennis who provided information on northern Idaho.

Thanks to our friends at Pocatello Power Sports for keeping us in bikes, tires and accessories.

Note: All of the small towns along the Tour route have at least one establishment with free WiFi. A WiFi enabled cell phone will generally be the only inexpensive way of checking in with family and friends at the end of each day and uploading challenge point photographs. A really good reason for not using one's cellphone as a primary GPS is that uploading Challenge Point photos becomes problematic if one's phone gets damaged or lost because it's exposed and vulnerable (it's happened many times). 

The following description breaks the Tour into nine segments. These are the intervals to which Tour participants must adhere. Based on our experience, competent, well-equipped parties traveling at reasonable speeds will have little trouble knocking off the entire Tour in nine trail days. The advantages of the suggested schedule are that accommodations are not generally a problem and the riding difficulties are distributed so that one day is not significantly more difficult than the next. The intervals are as follows: D1 - Utah to Pocatello, D2 - Pocatello to Arco, D3 - Arco to Smiley Creek, D4 - Smiley Creek to Challis, D5 - Challis to North Fork, D6 - North Fork to Lowell, D7 - Lowell to Powell Ranger Station, D8 - Powell Ranger Station to Wallace, D9 - Wallace to Sundance Mountain.

A stopover day in Pocatello (the biggest town along the route) right after the first day on the trail is highly recommended. Pocatello is the largest city along the route and the best place to sort out bike or equipment issues that you may have discovered on D1. You can change oil, tires, repack and take care of any maintenance in the biggest (and most well-equipped) town along the route. It also makes it easy to get the pre-dawn start that's a really good idea for D2. Pass on the allowed day off in Pocatello and the historic odds of success go way down.

Please bear in mind that though we have covered every inch of the recommended route and believe our descriptions to be accurate, conditions can change, in some instances very rapidly, due to weather, fire, human activities, road closures, etc. A group once got lost and abandoned the Tour because of a new trailhead parking lot. It's very common for people to miss trails or challenge points because they get tracks to follow from sources other than here. But as thorough as we've tried to be, the route description and GPS files provided here are no substitute for the ability to pull out a map and figure things out when you discover that you're not in Kansas any more. Those attempting to substitute a GPS unit for route finding and the ability to read a map will doubtless spend a lot of time lost. Again, navigation is a deliberately important part of the adventure.

The Tour of Idaho is not a casual undertaking. Completing the Tour requires reasonably high degrees of riding skill, outdoor acumen, physical conditioning, route finding ability, mechanical skill, knowledge of emergency first aid and a healthy dollop of good luck. The information on this website is not meant as a substitute for any of the above. A trail that we describe as flat and fast, for instance, may change overnight as the result of a storm. You ride the Tour at your own risk. Any attempt to replace "eyes on the spot" judgment with something you read here (or elsewhere) may well result in calamity. You may want to check out the FAQ for answers to specific questions we've gotten (or wish we had).

White Knob

Please note that all estimates for time on the trail do not factor in the additional time required for extensive sawing or completing the more difficult challenge sections.

In order to assist in assessing what you are riding into from day to day the "Touracles" (a group of Tour vets) have produced a series of trail ratings for the ATV and single track trails on the Tour. Please note that these are based on nominal conditions and that all it takes is one storm to change things. All ratings assume a solo rider with no support on a loaded Tour bike riding the trail for the first time. Remoteness, fatigue and technicality are all taken into account. The scale is from 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult) and the ratings are normalized to Tour of Idaho trails. 

The technical ratings are augmented with a scale borrowed from the MPAA we've pressed into use here to indicate mental stressors such as exposure, creek crossings and anything else that could ruin a Tour for the unlucky or unwary. No suffix indicates a trail that should be no problem for any competent solo rider of intermediate ability on a loaded Tour bike. A suffix of "PG" indicates slightly elevated risk. A suffix of "R" means that one should make doubly sure that their beacon is working. A suffix of "X" means  to radio the tower and have them foam a runway.

Finally we have attempted to quantify the quality of each trail. This, of course, is highly subjective and it is what it is. An asterisk (*) indicates a trail of above average quality. Two asterisks (**) indicates a trail of that is virtually overflowing with redeeming social value. Three asterisks indicates a veritable cornucopia of the most noble characteristics to which any trail may aspire.

Malad City

The Malad City Chamber of Commerce has arranged free parking in Malad, just a few miles north of the Utah border, for Tour of Idaho riders. Here is a kmz file that you may open in Google Earth that shows where the parking is, and here is what it looks like from the street. Just leave a note in the windshield of your rig that you are riding the Tour of Idaho (it might not hurt to check in with the local police either). The recommended accommodation in Malad City is the Hotel Malad, which is just a short jog from the parking area. Hess Lumber and Evans Co-op can take care of your last minute hardware and sporting goods needs.

D1 - Utah to Pocatello
(140 miles)

D1 Profile

Jenkins Hollow ST 1
Old Baldy Connector ATV 2
Old Baldy-Weston Peak, PG ** ST 3-
Ruben Hollow ST 1+
Ruben Hollow to Davis Basin ATV 1
Oxford Ridge * ATV 2
Aspen Hollow ATV 1
Sedgwick Peak ATV 2
South Boundary Trail ATV 2
Robber's Roost (W to E) * ST 4-
North Boundary Trail ATV 2-
CS Boundary Trail ATV 1
CS Reed Canyon ST 5-
CS Girl Scout Camp ST 3+
CS Robber's Roost (E to W) ST 4
CS Boundary Trail ATV 2-
Inman Pass ATV 2
South Fork Inman Creek *** ST 1+
Blackrock Canyon ATV 2-
Chinese Peak * ATV 1

Mile Marker 1 (Dan Colvin)
Utah/Idaho Border. Challenge point #1
Please note: you must complete D1 before midnight on the day you set out. If you get to Pocatello after midnight it's considered a DNF. This is for your safety. If you get any reasonable start (before 9 a.m.) you should easily be in Pocatello before dark. If not the great wheel in the sky is trying to tell you something - and you should listen.

Day one, though the shortest in terms of miles, yields long stretches of technical riding. Roughly half of the route consists of rugged single track or ATV trail and the total elevation gain is nearly 30,000 feet! There are several impressively long and steep climbs. Most will find this to be a full day,10 hours or so being a good time. Gas, food and water are not a problem with the longest distance between services being about 50 miles. If you cannot do D1 in less than 14 hours (in reasonable conditions) you will find the days following to be very long and challenging. 

The traditional Tour start in Black Canyon has been changed for several years to a better start near I-15 Idaho exit #3 (Woodruff Road). This is an easy ride from Malad. From Malad take Old Highway 191 south some 10 miles to Woodruff Road. Turn left and head east over the freeway then right (south) another mile to the trail head at the mouth of Burnett Canyon. Head three miles east up Burnett Canyon to a ridge. Turn right (south) and head downhill a mile or so to the Idaho-Utah border (pictured left). This is the official start of the Tour.  

Head north six miles along a series of roads and ATV trails (70055 and 7488) to Dry Creek Campground.  Follow the dirt road east out of Dry Creek (71224 then 70053) to ID 36, some 5 miles from the campground. Cross the highway and follow the road about 1/2 of a mile to an intersection. Turn north (left) and proceed 2.75 miles long a series of roads (King Road, 70242)  to trail 7452. This trail is marked as non-motorized on some maps, but is, in fact, a dirt road. Follow 7452 uphill (video) to 7451 (ATV) which leads to single track trail 7437. Follow this steep and spectacular trail some 4 miles up and over Old Baldy (8356'), then Weston Peak (8165'). The second challenge point of the day (1DROCKSLIDE) is found in this area due west of Weston Peak.

On the north side of Weston Peak, look for an intersection with 7443 and continue north. Take trail 7441 east (right) a few miles to Buck Peak. Here the trail turns north and descends about a mile into Davis Basin. After Davis Basin the trail ascends the steep spine of Oxford Ridge gaining about 2000'.  

After a couple of miles the ridge levels off and heads northwest toward the summit of Oxford Peak. After about a mile along the ridge crest the Tour route leaves the ridge going east near Pine Corral Spring (just before the next steep climb) and descends an ATV trail (7419) steeply into Oxford Basin. The detour from the ridge is not obvious and a look at the GPS waypoints (video) will prove extremely useful.
Weston Peak
Weston Peak
After a long descent to a small lake the trail climbs out of Oxford basin. A series of short climbs leads to a dirt road that goes east (right). Go left after 1/4 of a mile and head steeply uphill to a series of ATV trails (7419) leading some 4 miles to Aspen Hollow. Descend to the northeast down Aspen Hollow (7416, 70050) to a farm road (Cedar Knoll Road) that rolls straight down into Marsh Valley. Follow this road about 4 miles to an intersection with Back Downata Road and turn right. Follow Back Downata Road east a few miles past Downata Hot Springs to US 91. Though it shouldn't be an issue at this point, gas is available a few miles north on Highway 91 in Downey or south at Swan Lake. Downata Hot Springs is a nice place to stop for a few minutes to cool off with a drink and a snack.

After crossing US 91 the Tour jogs south about a mile to Calvin Road (Red Rocks Back) on the east (left), east along Pratt Road to Cottonwood Valley. The route then follows a series of logging roads and ATV trails (video) that ascend to the summit of Sedgwick Peak (9167'). A series of roads follows the crest of the Portneuf Range northwest from Sedgwick Peak some 10 miles, eventually descending to Lava Hot Springs - a resort community that is an excellent place to stop for food and gas before the afternoon trek to Pocatello. We recommend the Sunnyside Store/Sinclair station, on the way out of town for a quick lunch and fuel stop.

About a mile west of Lava on US 30, turn north (right) on Sunnyside Road (70030). Head north 3 miles up Beach Hollow (watch for a jog to the right near a house and a "dead end road" sign) to an intersection with the Boundary Trail (7272). Here the Tour route splits. The regular Tour route continues west and north along the Boundary Trail some 6 miles to Robbers Roost Trail (7253). Robbers Roost is equal parts steep and spectacular (video) and crosses the Portneuf Range crest just north of Haystack Mountain (9033') before taking the rider steeply downhill to Big Springs Campground back on the eastern side of the range. The day's third challenge point (1DRR) is found at the crest of the Portneuf Range on Robber's Roost on either the regular route or the challenge section (below). From Big Springs follow the Boundary trail north about 4 miles again to the Portneuf Range crest this time at Inkom Pass (7232'). The day's fourth challenge point is at the top of Inkom Pass (1D66).

The D1 challenge section follows the Boundary Trail (7272) east and north from Beach Hollow for several miles to Reed Canyon (7277), then up Reed to Girl Scout Camp Trail (7274, road 70022), back to the Boundary Trail a few miles south of Big Springs Campground. The challenge section then takes Robbers Roost Trail (7253) from east to west (reverse of the regular route) to the Boundary Trail and follows the Boundary trail north a few miles to Inkom Pass. It's permissible to bail out at the top of Reed Canyon and ride down Bob Smith Canyon to reconnect with the regular route. Why you should ride this. If you can get through without too much trouble the rest of the Tour will be a breeze. Why you should not. It's long and difficult right out of the chute and has ended many aspiring rider's hopes of completing the Tour less than a hundred miles in. There's a lot more ahead. 
Oxford Ridge
Oxford Ridge

Tour of Idaho Mailbox
Tour of Idaho Flagpole/Register
From Inkom Pass follow trail (7243) from the pass first uphill and north then downhill and east to the South Fork of Inman Creek (video). Follow the South Fork Inman Creek single track (7240) north several miles (one of the most enjoyable trails of the entire Tour) to Inman Canyon Road. At the intersection with Inman Canyon Road head west (left) and descend several miles to an intersection with Rapid Creek Road.

From the intersection of Inman Canyon and Rapid Creek travel west into the small town of Inkom. Inkom is a good place for gas and a cool drink, if you choose, before the last sprint to Pocatello. 
Head north out of town and look for the Sorelle Road sign at the I-15 intersection on the north end of town. 

From Inkom head west about 5 miles along US 30 (all pavement, unfortunately) to Blackrock Canyon Road. Turn right and proceed under the freeway and north into Blackrock Canyon.

Head up into Blackrock Canyon for a mile or so past a parking lot on the left to a fork in the road. Take the right fork across the creek and follow the road past the Boy Scout Pavilion. Go another 1/2 mile to an intersection with a jeep road that heads left (north). Instead continue ahead and follow an ATV trail east that heads steeply uphill. Follow this uphill several miles to another ATV trail on the ridge. Go right (south) then left (continuing south) downhill a mile or so to Caddy Canyon. Follow this enjoyable and scenic ATV trail several miles north to a ridge, then about 4 miles west as a series of jeep roads and ATV trails wind to the summit of Chinese Peak (video). At several points along this trail you will be able to look back to the south and enjoy an evening vista of your entire day's travels.

The summit of Chinese Peak is a few hundred yards off the Tour route but worth a visit. From the summit of Chinese Peak, the town of Pocatello lies in the valley to the west. Follow the wide, well-traveled gravel road that descends to the west. About three miles from the summit of Chinese Peak you'll encounter the TID flagpole on the left about 100 yards after reaching pavement (below the BLM parking area) at the top of Barton Road. This is the last challenge point of D1 (1DFLAGPOLE). The flagpole is on private property. You are welcome to sign the register but please do not enter the property beyond the flagpole without prior arrangement. The signs warning of an electric fence should be taken seriously. You should also know that the llamas spit, the dogs bite and the folks who live there are armed and dangerous. 

Pocatello is the largest town along the Tour route. It's a full-service University community of over 50,000 with numerous motels, hotels, restaurants and shops of all kinds. It is highly recommended that Tour riders avail themselves of the allowed day off in Pocatello to rest, 
sort out bike, equipment or personal issues that inevitably arise during the course of the first day. A day off in Pocatello also allows one to get a highly advised very early start for D2.
Pocatello has a tremendous motorcycle shop, Pocatello Power Sports (Honda/KTM/Suzuki). A good Tour strategy is to "run what you brung" on your Tour bike on D1 then use your day off in Pocatello to have your bike serviced and shod in new tires at PPS. They understand what the Tour is about and all you have to do is call ahead and they can have anything that you need ready. They are great at getting you in and out during your day off. Make sure that you treat them well.

While in Pocatello, we recommend College Market for breakfast, lunch and coffee (they even have a sandwich called the T1), The Sand Trap, Mama Inez or the Sandpiper for lunch and dinner. Best bets for provisions and services are Pocatello Power Sports for motorcycle related needs, Barrie's Ski & Sports for general outdoor equipment and Fred Meyer for food and general supplies. Ethanol-free gas is available at Oak Street Sinclair (premium Ethanol-free is available at any local Sinclair). The local Red Wing Shoe store offers a free while-you-wait foot and boot inspection (custom insoles are pretty sweet) and boot cleaning for any Tour of Idaho rider who stops in. Jason Smoot has a variety of accoutrements for the feet that you ought to think about (1400 miles is a long way to stand on your pegs). Please snap a selfie with the folks at any of these establishments that support the Tour and post on our Facebook page.
Inkom Pass
Inkom Pass

While in Pocatello, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.
Pocatello Power Sports Sand Trap Red Wing

D2 - Pocatello to Arco (260 miles)

D2 Profile

Slate Mountain, PG *** ST 2
Lead Draw ST 1
Crestline Cycle Trail/Scout Mountain, PG * ST 2
CS Bell Marsh ST 2
CS Bell Marsh to Mormon ATV 1
Mormon Canyon, PG ST 2+
Frog Pond/Valve House ATV 1
Racetrack Trail ST 2-
Green Canyon/Sand Hollow ATV 2
Sublett Range ATV 2
American Falls Desert (sand),  PG ST 3

Day two sets out along the world's mellowest motorcycle single track trail just as your coffee is kicking in and the sun is coming up. That last part is important because things get very interesting west of American Falls if you hit the desert sand in the heat of the afternoon on most summer days. Twelve or so hours ought to suffice at any reasonable clip. The longest stretch between fuel stops is 140 miles (between American Falls and Arco).

Begin by heading west out of Pocatello to Gibson Jack Road (70008) and follow it to its end. At the west end of the parking lot find the ATV trail that crosses a creek and heads uphill (7015) for less than half a mile to an intersection. Go left (downhill) a short distance to trail (7018) which narrows to single track and heads southwest up Dry Creek. Follow this trail some 6 miles as it contours the eastern slopes of Gibson and Slate Mountains (video). Aside from some brief side hill moments of concern this trail is one of the best anywhere. 


Slate Mountain Trail
Slate Mountain Trail

You'll eventually descend to Mink Creek Road. Turn left there and proceed northeast for about a mile to a well-marked intersection with East Fork (Scout Mountain) road on the right. Follow this east for about half a mile to a parking area on the left. This marks the beginning of the Lead Draw trail (70331, 7109). Follow this east for for a little over a mile (video) and look for an intersection with trail 7133 on the right. Follow this trail south a little over 2 miles to a picnic area/campground.

Proceed south through the picnic area to the Crestline Cycle Trail (7148). The Crestline Cycle Trail winds up wooded slopes to eventually emerge beneath the rugged and spectacular east face of Scout Mountain (video). After about 4 miles from it's start the Crestline Cycle Trail intersects road 70009. From here one turns right (west) and follows the winding road 2 miles to the top of Scout Mountain (8700'). You'll find your first D2 challenge point (2DSM) there.

The D2 challenge section begins at the aforementioned intersection. Just before the Crestline Cycle Trail intersects road 70009 one encounters trail 7178 (Bell Marsh) on the left (east). This 11-mile loop winds east down Bell Marsh, south then west along trail 7152 eventually reconnecting with road 70009 (you'll have to backtrack just a bit along 70009 to reconnect with the Tour route).
Why you should ride it. It's far and away the easiest of 'em all. If you got off to an early start and the weather is overcast or cool go for it. Why you should notThough short, this loop is time-consuming and soaks up a lot of time while not advancing you an inch (you end up back where you started). It is not recommended unless you've managed a very early start out of Pocatello because you do not want to get to the desert section of D2 much after noon.

From the intersection of Crestline Cycle Trail with the road follow 70009 downhill less than a mile to an intersection with East Fork Trail (7186). Turn right (west) and follow this ATV trail about a mile west then north to Frog Pond. From there, proceed north another mile or so (video) to Race Track Trail (7184), a single track trail that veers sharply to the left (west). Follow this for about 3.5 miles west to South Fork Road (70163).  

This initial 20 or so miles of trail on D2 is among the most enjoyable of the entire Tour. But for a few miles of connecting roads and ATV trail it's almost entirely casual single track. The riding is mellow enough that one may enjoy the scenery in a manner that is often not possible elsewhere along the Tour.

Head south (left) on South Fork/Mercer Creek Road for a few miles to an intersection with Garden Creek Road. Continue south another few miles to an intersection with Rattlesnake Creek Road. Turn right and proceed a few miles west to South Bannock Hwy.


You'll proceed west into Arbon Valley and around Lusk Loop. Cross Arbon Valley Hwy and proceed due west toward the flanks of the Deep Creek Range. The road deteriorates to a jeep trail at a fence crossing at the foot of the range. Proceed generally west up Green Canyon. Near the top of the range the trail comes out of the trees and connects with Dry Hollow Trail (956). On the crest of the ridge you'll encounter the second D2 challenge point (2DDC). Head right (west) over the crest of the range and descend into Portage Canyon toward ID 37 in the Rockland Valley. At the intersection of Portage Canyon Road and ID 37 continue west crossing ID 37 to Kuper Road.

Follow Kuper Road west then south a few miles to Green Canyon Road. Follow Green Canyon Road/NFD 569 southwest a few miles to an intersection with NFD 579. Turn right (west) and follow this road as it descends Sheep Canyon for a few miles to an intersection with NFD 577 on the right. Head steeply uphill on NFD 577 to a pass and descend into Houtz Canyon. Follow NFD 577 down Houtz Canyon about 4.5 miles to an intersection with a road on the left that leads to Dairy Canyon. Follow this road uphill a mile or so to a pass and then descend another 3/4 of a mile into Dairy Canyon.

Follow the road right at the first intersection and left at the second (indistinct) intersection short distance later. After the second intersection head uphill (west) to a pass just south of Badger Peak (6500'). There is a faint road that leaves the pass west and can be ridden a half mile or so to the top of a knoll. Your third D2 challenge point (2DSR) is on top of the knoll. 
Slate Mountain
Slate Mountain Trail
Scout Mountain
Crestline Cycle Trail
From the pass descend 1.5 miles to a four-way intersection at the base of the hill. Proceed straight through this intersection and continue north 5 miles along Fall Creek to an intersection with Benson Spring Road. Turn right (continuing on Fall Creek Road) and head steeply uphill then downhill about 1.5 miles to an intersection with Register Road (paved).

Turn right and head east on Register road to the Register Rock roadside park - a historic point on the Oregon Trail. Head east another couple of miles to Deeg Road on the right. Head east on Deeg Road 3.25 miles to an intersection with Rock Creek Road (paved). Head north 3.5 miles to the I-86 overpass and continue along Eagle Rock Road which runs east along the north side of the Interstate another 3.25 miles to an intersection with South Frontage Road that leads 2 miles into American Falls. The best place for gas and snacks in American Falls before the epic plunge into the desert is the Bingham Coop. Waypoint 2D72 in the middle of the parking lot.

The route out of American Falls proceeds west along ID 39 across the American Falls Dam. Just across the dam turn left (west) onto Lamb Weston Road. Jog around a few corners and turn south (left) on Borah Road a short distance later. Follow Borah Road south and west about a mile to a railroad crossing. From here follow Lake Channel Road 3.75 miles southwest and begin looking for a sandy dirt road on the right. The next 30 miles of deep sandy trail is one of the technical highlights of the Tour (video).

About the desert. Perhaps no where else along the Tour is it as important to stay on the track as it is out in this desert. The consequences of getting lost in the middle of a hot day (or worse at night) are almost too awful to even consider. The trail from Lake Channel Road to Quigley Railroad Crossing, though reasonably well-marked, is at times difficult to follow. When in doubt the route goes in a reasonably straight line between waypoints and when it does not it's obvious what to do. It is important that you stay as close to the track as possible to avoid unpleasant encounters with basalt rock, cactus, nasty whoops, deep holes and other desert treats. On Tour veteran, a professional rider of vast experience, referred to the desert section of the Tour as "a beater." He wasn't making anything up. Personally I love the desert but I also recognize that it has the potential to be grueling and serious if you take it lightly.

Most of the established tracks in the area are overused, whooped-out and nasty. Our track is designed to help you avoid the unpleasantness. In some places you'll be on an established trail but in those places the trail will be OK. If you examine the track carefully from where you first exit Lake Channel Road to to the point you cross it again you'll note that in some places it's way off on it's own and in others it appears to lie a few feet left or right of the main trail or a road. That's because in those places there's a motorcycle singletrack that was put there to avoid the whoops. You are required to follow our route through the desert. 

The normally fine, extremely dry basaltic sand in this area is the most difficult that some have ever ridden. Where the trails are whooped it's difficult to keep up the speeds required to stay on top of the sand. If you are very, very lucky, you'll get there after a summer thunderstorm and experience nirvana.

It is incredibly important that you scout the rock chute entrance to Lake Channel, to make sure that you are in the right spot, 
before taking the plunge -  as the surrounding cliffs reach heights of nearly 100'. Most attempts to do this after dark count as failed suicides rather than heroic deeds. 

Please note that it is very hot in the desert most of the time during the Tour of Idaho season (July and August anyway). Do not go out into the desert without proper hydration and ventilation. On a hot day the 140 or so miles from American Falls to Arco are very serious (110+ temps). Once you get out of the sand and into the basalt rock (after the first 30 miles) you'll be able to ride fast enough to cool down except for numerous gates that need to be opened and closed. The only real respite from the heat will be the summit of Big Southern Butte many miles to the north. Plan accordingly.

So here you go. To enter the sand, bear off Lake Channel Road at waypoint 2D81 onto a sandy dirt road and follow it about 1/4 of a mile to a faint trail that leads off to the west. Follow this another 1/4 of a mile to a well-defined trail that leads north down a canyon. After another 1/4 of a mile this trail climbs the steep left bank of the narrowing canyon then heads west along a fence line. Climb a sandy hill then follow a faint trail (occasionally marked with red ribbon) generally north up past large piles of lava rock to a power line road and a fence crossing. Head through the fence and proceed north for another 1/4 of a mile to a faint single track trail that heads west. Follow this trail, generally west, as it winds through dunes, sandy whoops and lava rock some 7 miles back to Lake Channel Road. There are a myriad of trails criss-crossing this area and you'll end up riding around in very tiring circles without paying close attention to the direction of your next waypoint. At times the trail is tenuous (look for red marking ribbon) but as long as you take your time and keep heading toward the next waypoint you'll be fine. At times the sand is quite deep and the dunes high and steep. Though exciting these trails are well-ridden and mostly avoid serious hazards. Beware of large lava rocks, often hidden in the sand, that you may assume are bolted directly to the center of the earth. You'll need to keep up your speed to climb the omnipresent dunes, but at a level below reckless abandon (video). Your fourth D2 challenge point (2DAFSD) is in this area. And, yes, you really do have to go right where the map and gps says the point is.
Desert dues
American Falls Desert
On the west side of Lake Channel road proceed south then west about 1/4 of a mile to a cliff above Lake Channel Bowl. As previously mentioned it is advised that you get off your bike and scout the entrance to the bowl to make sure that you have the right one (a minimally technical short rock chute that's difficulty changes a bit with the amount of sand blown into the bowl below). Be aware that the cliffs in this area rise to about 100' above the bowl in some places and that you would be unlikely to enjoy the plummet should you choose your line poorly. Your fifth D2 challenge point is anywhere between waypoints D2128 and D2129.

Once into the bowl follow the waypoints half a mile to a climb out of the bowl on the right. Proceed along through a mixture of dunes, rocky roads, sandy roads and sandy trail about 5 miles to an intersection with a trail that heads north. Follow intermittent cow trails north a few miles to the third of three power line roads you'll encounter. Turn right (east) and head back to Lake Channel Road. Once there turn left (north), cross the RR tracks, and immediately locate a gate on the left side of the road. Head through this gate and proceed due north to the obvious large sand dune about 1/4 of a mile away. Head over the dune and follow an enjoyable single track trail north a few miles to Quigley road.  

From here the route skirts the east edge of the Wapi Lava Flow some 35 miles to the Great Rift - an area of lava tubes and deep chasms in the Basalt. Proceed north along Quigley Road some 10 miles north to North Pleasant Valley then along Schultz, Funk Roads and Classen Roads to Water Tank Road. The turnoff north (right) to Classen Road from Funk Road is unmarked but located where Funk Road turns from gravel to dirt. When the fields are planted this may be difficult to find. It is entirely possible to skirt the fields by continuing another half mile west to Winters Road, then turning right (north) and proceeding another half a mile to an east/west road on the south side of a fence line (Water Tank Road). No matter how you get there follow Water Tank Road east to Flat Top Road (0733). Follow this north about 7.5 miles to Gasten Beattie Well. Continue north along 0733 another 3.5 miles to Mosby Well. Continue north another 25+ miles to Big Southern Butte-Springfield Road. Along this section of the route it is very easy to get confused by a myriad of jeep roads and goat trails.

From the intersection with BSB-Springfield Road turn left (west) and proceed a few miles to Frenchman's Cabin. The 6-mile trek  to the top of the Butte begins here. On a clear day the view from the top (7560') includes a dozen mountain ranges, 1/3 of the Tour, most of T2 and parts of Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho's Snake River Valley from the Tetons all the way to Boise (video). Your sixth and last D2 challenge point (D2BSB) is on top of the butte.

Big Southern Butte
Big Southern Butte
From Frenchman's Cabin the Tour proceeds west along Quaking Aspen-Frenchman Road some 10 miles around the southern boundary of the Idaho National Laboratory. Head west toward Quaking Aspen Butte and an intersection with the Arco-Minidoka road. Most of this section near the end of D2 is fast and flowing but you will be happy to see the lights of Arco glittering in the gathering darkness off to the north. Head north along the Arco-Minidoka road 14 miles to an intersection with US 20/26/93. Turn north (right) and proceed about a mile into Arco.

Arco is a small community with an excellent motorcycle shop (Lost River Honda), a variety of eateries and several motels. It's a dirt bike friendly town, and anything short of wheelies down main street will probably pass without notice. We recommend the DK motel for accommodations, but every place in town is pretty good to Tour riders. The folks at Lost River Honda have been especially helpful to Tour riders over the years. Treat them well.

While in Arco, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.   DK





D3 - Arco to Smiley Creek (195+ miles)

D3 Profile

Mud Lake/Trail Creek ATV 2-
Steward Canyon/Corral Creek ATV 2-
Wildhorse Lookout, PG *** ATV 2+
Burnt Aspen-Kane Canyon *** ST 2-
Warfield-South Fork ** ST 2
Middle Fork South Fork **Big Peak/Lick Creek ** ST 2
CS East Fork Big Peak Creek/Big Smoky Creek, R ST 4+
Lick Creek/Big Peak Creek Connector ST 2+
Paradise Creek (to Snowslide) ** ST 3
Paradise Creek (after Snowslide), R ** ST 3
West Fork Big Smoky ST 2
Mule Creek ** ST 1+
Chemeketan ST 1

Little Kane Creek
Burnt Aspen/Kane Creek
Day three is one of the best of the Tour. There is a lot of single track and you'll encounter your first exposure to some side hills worthy of attention. Gas should not be an issue. Most will find this to be an easy day. You are beginning the best part of the Tour. Days 3 - 5 are all up there in nearly everyone's panoply of trails.

The route out of Arco may be found off US 20/26 near the southeast edge of town. Look for the large submarine mast parked on the east side of the highway (I kid you not). Turn east (left) at the sub onto HiWay Drive which parallels US 20/26 southeast for a 0.3 miles to a fork in the road. Take the east (left) fork 1 mile to an intersection with Arco Pass Road on the north (left). After about 7 miles the Arco Pass Road intersects Sheep Camp Road near the base of King Mountain. Head west (left) on Sheep Camp Road, past a large natural arch, then up and over Beverland Pass (7416'). Your first D3 challenge point (near 3D8) is at the pass. Proceed down King Canyon into the Big Lost River Valley.

Head west then south to Moore then continue seven or so miles south along farm roads to Hammond Canyon. Head west about 11 miles to Antelope Valley.
From here the route heads north along the flanks and spine of the White Knob Mountains east of Copper Basin. You'll begin by heading north up Cherry Creek Road several miles to trail 4347. Take this ATV trail several miles north past Round Mountain then east down to Alder Creek.

Please note that the Cherry Creek ATV trail is the first trail along the Tour to close near the end of the season (on September 7th). After that you'll have to take Antelope Valley Road back toward US 93 and around the foothills to Alder Creek Road. This route (3DA0 to 3DA3) is only an option only after Cherry Creek Trail closes. 

Midway up Alder Creek road at waypoint 3D38 is a road on the right, Cliff Creek, that winds it's way through the White Knob Mountains to Mackay. If you reach this point early in the day it's worth the side trip a few miles up this road to a pass with a spectacular view of the Lost River Valley and the Lost River Range to the east.

Head up Alder Creek Road a few miles to road 40516 on the west (left) which quickly turns into trail 4070 in Stewart Canyon. Those who disdain quad trails as unworthy are in for a surprise. You'll crest 10,000' for the first time on the Tour here on the White Knob Mountain crest at the pass between Stewart Canyon and Corral Canyon. The second challenge point of the day is at this pass near waypoint 3D44.

After the pass you'll descend north then west down Corral Creek a few miles to Burma Road. Take Burma Road south to East Fork Road - the main drag through Copper Basin. Head north then west several miles to trail 4056 that heads up Wildcat Canyon and Wildhorse Lookout (9359') - truly one of the more spectacular spots along the Tour. Again, for those who disdain all quad trails as unworthy, here's part II of your education. The third challenge point of the day is at the lookout near waypoint 3D56.

After the descent from Wildhorse LO, turn west (right) and jog down East Fork Road a short distance to Wildhorse Creek on the left. Head south along Wildhorse Creek Road (40136), past the Guard Station, to Burnt Aspen Trail (4055) on the west (left). This trail is among the best of the entire Tour. You will enjoy the increasingly spectacular views as you wind your way up to the divide between Burnt Aspen Creek and Little Kane Creek (your fourth challenge point of the day is at the pass near waypoint 3D61) - and they get even better as you wander down the Kane Creek drainage.

At the bottom of Little Kane Creek you'll encounter a road (40134) that winds its way west around Phi Kappa Mountain to Trail Creek Road (NFS 208). From here the route heads west over Trail Creek Summit. From Trail Creek Summit you'll head southwest some 12 miles to Ketchum/Sun Valley Idaho - a.k.a. "Glitter Gulch." Bruce Willis lives here. So do Peter Cetera, Steve Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Zuckerberg, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Tony Robbins. Hemingway had a home here as well and that might've had something to do with why he volunteered for an early ride on the great wheel in the sky on July 2, 1961.

I suggest taking the time to park your fanny on a bench in the vicinity of Whiskey Jacques and just take it all in (you are, after all, on a Tour of Idaho). The immortal words of Sophocles, "Oh, God, here comes the dreadful truth," will never ring more true. More than a few hours here and you will want to jab yourself in the head with a piece of rebar.

Do not let the laid back demeanor of the locals wearing
$300 sandas fool you either. Almost everyone staring at you and your bike dislikes you and hates your bike. Honest and no lie. Shall I fan you gently so you don't go into shock?

Snowslide
Paradise Peak/Snowslide - challenge point #5

From Ketchum head west along Warm Springs Road (NFS 227) about 11 miles or so to Warfield-South Fork Trail (7151). Head southwest for a few miles until the trail climbs steeply through a series of switchbacks to an intersection with Red Warrior Trail (7120) on the left. Continue south, then west, then north to Middle Fork-South Fork Trail (7199) to Middle Fork Warm Springs Trail (7150) to Dollarhide Summit Trail (7995). Take 7995 west a couple of miles to Dollarhide Summit. The exit from the trail is a bit difficult to find but is very close to waypoint 3D81 off to the right in the middle of a steep uphill section of the trail. Someone usually piles up some logs here to block the trail but you'll most likely be to wheelie over them as the trail appears to continue ahead. It does, but only for another 1/4 of a mile or so.

The D3 challenge section begins near waypoint 3D76 and continues along trail 7151 to Meadow Creek ATV trail (7302) back to Warm Springs Road. A right turn here leads you to the challenging part of the D3 challenge: East Fork Big Peak Creek (7076). Why you should ride it. It's challenging and scenic. Why you should not. It's a long way to the intersection with Lick Creek (7080) and you'll need your big-person jammies some of the way. In nominal conditions it's an adventure. 

From Dollarhide Summit proceed west another 5 miles to an intersection with Trail 7016 (Big Peak) on the right. Follow this trail uphill a few miles to an intersection with trail 7081 (video). Follow this about 5 miles west to an intersection with Lick Creek Trail (7080). Soloists: continue straight on 7080 west 4 miles to an intersection with NFD 227 and Big Smokey Guard Station just a stone's throw down the road. Teams: Turn back right (east) on 7080, Lick Creek Trail, and follow it a few miles downhill to an intersection with East Fork Big Peak Creek (7076). Turn left (north) and head a few miles to an intersection with Big Smoky (7072).
Beware of numerous creek crossings on Big Smoky Trail. More than one person has take an unplanned bath here. You might need to read this.
From the southern end of Big Smoky head north about 11 miles along Paradise Creek Trail (7070) to Snowslide Lakes. The first part of this is great with just a bit of gnarl before Snowslide Lakes. But after that this will be, for many, an introduction to "side hills of major concern" - a theme that will become much more prevalent in coming days.

Continue over the pass (the last D3 challenge point is here) and down a couple of miles to the West Fork of Big Smoky (224). Head southeast just a bit over 2 miles and look for an intersection on the left with Mule Creek Trail (198), which is not well-marked. Trail 198 is a riot
(video), and will aptly punctuate the end of a great day of riding as you follow it up several miles to the divide between the Smoky Mountains and the Sawtooths and an intersection with Big Smoky Creek Trail (072).

From this intersection head north and follow the trail steeply downhill a few miles to an intersection with NFD 215. The small creek on your left is the origin of the mighty Salmon River. About 5 miles later you'll encounter ID 75. From here it's a short jaunt north to Smiley Creek Inn or a slightly longer (21 miles) ride to Stanley which has a wider variety of accommodations.
Smokey MountainsParadise Creek Trail

While in the Stanley area, please  patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Smiley Creek Lodge Stanley


D4 - Smiley Creek to Challis
(135 miles)

D4 Profile

Grand Prize Gulch * ST 2+
Little Boulder Creek *** PG ST 3
Frog Lake, PG ST 3
Big Boulder Creek ** ST 2
French Creek ST 3
Thompson Creek/Cinnabar ST 3
Five Mile Creek, PG ST 3
CS Custer Lookout (CCW), X *** ST 4+
Squaw Creek ST 2
Squaw Creek  ATV 1
Trealor Creek ATV 3-
Ramshorn/Keystone Mountain *** UTV 2
Lombard Trail ** UTV 2-

Day four continues the trend that began with D3 - again traversing some of the most spectacular terrain in the USA accessible by motorcycle. It's 135 miles of continuous fun with an elevated level of challenge - both riding and navigational. Fuel should not be an issue. D4 is short by design. You'll have plenty of time to kick back at Sawmill Station for lunch and you should get in Challis early. Ten or so hours ought to suffice.
From Smiley Creek head east on trail 194 a few miles to Pole Creek then about 3 miles further to a intersection with Grand Prize Gulch Trail (7112) on the right. Please note that the alternative route, Germania Creek (7111) is available only in the event that Grand Prize Gulch is closed. Follow 7112 uphill a few miles to your first challenge point of the day, the scenic view at the top of the pass between GPG and West Fork  near waypoint 4D5. Continue downhill about 5 miles to the East Fork of the Salmon then another few miles further to NFD 120 near the Bower Guard Station.

From the Guard Station follow the East Fork Road about 8 miles to an intersection with the Little Boulder Creek Trail (7682) on the left. This single track is one of the highlights of the Tour (video). Follow LBC (7682) about 4 miles to a clearing with a spectacular view of Castle and Merriman Peaks (D4 cp #2, near waypoint 4D10) then another 6 miles (7407) up and over a pass (cp #3 near waypoint 4D12) to the abandoned mining town of Livingston (video).

The next 5 miles (70669) climb steeply to the highest point of the Tour (10,420') atop Railroad Ridge where you'll want to pause to enjoy a vista that includes virtually all of the highest parts of Idaho and the spectacular Chinese Wall. D4 cp #4 is the highest point on the ridge, near waypoint 4D19.

Castle Peak
Little Boulder Creek - D4 challenge point #2

Proceed north 11 miles (70670, 7615, 7675, 2001) to French Creek where the trail narrows from dirt road, to jeep trail to single track as it descends down to the Salmon River. At the very bottom of French Creek, within sight of Hwy 75, the trail bears left to avoid private land near waypoint 4D24. Do not go through the gate to get to the road. Instead find the trail off to the left which climbs a side hill and descends toward a trailhead parking area. From the intersection with Hwy 75 head east about a mile to Old Sawmill Station where gas is available (24 x 7) along with supplies, camping and some of the best grub along the entire Tour. 

Railroad Ridge
Railroad Ridge - the roof of the Tour. Challenge point #4..

From Old Sawmill Station, head west along 75 about 3 miles to a bridge which crosses the Salmon River on the right, The right of way on the north side of the bridge is private so head west another two and a half miles along 75 to a dirt road just the other side of a bridge that is a public right of way. Follow this back around to Thompson Creek Road (FS 040).

Head north along Thompson Creek Road (FS 040) about 10 miles to a trail on the left (161) near waypoint 4D32. This trail is not hard to miss but you'll know you did if your start climbing steeply up a series of switchbacks. Follow 161 west about a mile and a half to Cinnabar Creek Trail (162). The last 1/4 of a mile up to Cinnabar ascends a steep meadow and the trail is a bit difficult to follow. The optimal path is marked by a series of rock cairns. Your fifth D4 challenge point awaits near waypoint 4D35.

Thompson Creek
Thompson Creek
A very short distance to the west along trail 162 you'll encounter the D4 challenge: Custer LO. This is a spectacular trail and a must do at some point in your riding career but one of the more airy and technical challenge sections on the Tour. Though short this four mile loop will test your meddle - including your ability to deal with dizzying side hills. It is recommended that you ride the loop in the counterclockwise direction only. You must go all the way to the lookout, which requires some extra work, to complete the challenge section.

Why you should ride it. You'll never find a better view than from the top. It's one of my favorite places. Why you should not. It's a long way down in a few spots and some commitment is required to advance. Not advised for soloists.


Continue west down Five Mile Creek to an intersection with Yankee Fork Road (FS 070). Turn right and head northeast about eight miles to McKay Creek on the right. Follow McKay Creek Road about a mile as it turns into trail 151, then a short distance to an intersection with Squaw Creek Trail (149). Follow 149 south about 7 miles until it turns into Squaw Creek Road (40041), then another mile to an intersection with Trealor Creek Road (40045) on the east (left).

Follow Trealor Creek road a mile or so to an intersection with a jeep trail (40695) that heads north. A short distance up this trail you'll encounter the Trealor Creek Trail (159) on the right. In the beginning this is one of the worst beater ATV trails bad dreams are capable of conjuring. It does get better with elevation. Follow this five miles up and over Buffalo Ridge and down to Bayhorse Lake. Head down Bayhorse Creek Road about a mile to an intersection with a jeep road that ascends sharply to the left. Head up this road past Little Bayhorse Lake to a hard left at waypoint 4D53 and past a spectacular rockslide.

Thompson Creek/Cinnabar
Thompson/Cinnabar - D4 challenge point #5.   

Continue east a few miles to the summit of Ramshorn Mountain and the final challenge point of the day (waypoint 4DRM). Continue east a few more miles over Keystone Mountain to an intersection with the Keystone Gulch jeep road.

From here, ascend Keystone Gulch and hang a left (waypoint 4D59) at the Lombard ATV trail (4639). Continue northeast past Blue Mountain (video). Just a few miles outside of Challis, a mile or so below the pass north of Blue Mountain, the trail splits (waypoint 4D64). The right fork descends to the State Park at Yankee Fork (a fee area). Take the left fork, right down the creek bed, a few miles into Challis.

Challis (5000'), at about trail mile 700, is about the same size as Arco (population 1200) and has about the same level of services. 
There are several motels, half a dozen or so eateries and plenty of choices for gas and supplies (The Village Square on U.S. 93, is particularly well-equipped for your TID needs: straps, gas jugs, tools, outdoor equipment - we even found 2 and 4 stroke motorcycle oil there). Ethanol-free gas is available at Kimble Oil and Brett's Automotive. The Challis Village Inn is probably the best place to stay in Challis but there are several other perfectly fine motels. Any of them will work.    

If time permits the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center (south of town at the intersection of US 93 and ID 75) is well worth taking the time to visit.

Ramshorn
Ramshorn - D4 challenge point #6
While in the Challis area, please  patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Challis Village Inn


D5 - Challis to North Fork (155 miles)

D5 Profile

Pat's Creek/Eddy Basin, PG * ST 3
West Fork Morgan Creek/Furnace Creek, PG ** ST 3+
Van Horn/Woods Peak/Alder Creek, PG *** ST 3+
CS BIg Hat Creek PG * ST 3+
Corral Creek  ST 3
Hat Creek Lakes, PG *** ST 4

Day five includes the second highest point of the Tour (Twin Peaks Lookout - 10,330') and about 50 miles of single track that can be quite technical at times. Most will find this to be a long day for a relatively short distance. Count on 10 hours on the trail or more to North Fork if sawing is required (almost always). Eight hours ought to suffice if the trail is clear (later in the season). Some of the trails on D5 are rarely ridden outside of the Tour of Idaho community. At the beginning of the season it could take two days to ride this section if it hasn't been sawed. There is no gas available between Challis and North Fork.
To begin, head west up Main Street a few blocks to 7th Street/Challis Creek Road on the north (right). Proceed north out of town five or so miles to NFD 138 - the Darling Creek Road. From here it is a 25-mile out and back to the summit of Twin Peaks Lookout (video). The first challenge point of the day is at the lookout near waypoint 5D8. Enjoy the view.

On the descent from Twin Peaks head back down to Challis Creek Road and look for Pats Creek (40173) on the left side of the road near the intersection of Challis Creek and Valley Creek. If the Pat Creek/Eddy Creek trail is closed the Darling Creek trail, a few miles east, is an alternative.

Turn left (north) and follow the Eddy Creek/Camas Trail (4134) a few miles to Eddy Basin. Turn right on trail 4145 and head uphill a few miles to a sharp right turn (at waypoint 5D13) that's easy to miss. Head southeast as the trail climbs to a spectacular view of Morgan Creek. Your second challenge point of the day is anywhere near 
waypoint 5D13 where you like the view. Continue to an intersection with Trail 4144 which descends to a picnic area at the top of road 176.

Follow this road downhill a few miles to an intersection with road 057 and turn left. Follow 057 northwest about 3/4 of a mile to the West Fork of Morgan Creek Trail (4143). 
Twin Peaks Idaho
Twin Peaks. The first challenge point of D5 is near this spot.

Furnace Creek
Furnace Creek. This is the view from D5 cp #3. 
Once you head up West Fork you are entering one of the most remote areas you'll ever visit on a single track trail motorcycle trail in the United States. Trail 4143 has wonderful views and is of only moderate difficulty (except for a few short technical sections) but it is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Don't ride off a side hill or break down. It's a long walk out and no one is coming up the trail except another Tour of Idaho rider. This area generally gets sawed only by Tour of Idaho riders so be prepared for some work in early season.

Follow Trail 4143 up Morgan Creek for about 3 miles to an intersection with trail 4234. Continue another few miles past West Fork Lakes - climbing steeply to the scenic headlands above Morgan Creek/Furnace Creek and an intersection with Trail 4138 which loops back to the east. The next few miles are outrageously fun and contain the scenic view pictured at the left. This is challenge point #3, between waypoints 5D19 and 5D20.

As 4138 descends from the ridgetop it intersects Lick Creek Trail (4142) on the right. Continue northwest (left) on 4138 at this intersection and around the steep slopes above the headwaters of Furnace Creek. After another 1.5 miles you'll encounter the Furnace Creek Trail (4140) on the left (west). Turn right and continue northeast up Furnace Creek on 4138 over a divide west of Van Horn Peak (9616') and an intersection with Trail 4139 which descends to the right.

Continue on Trail 4138 a mile or so to D5 challenge point #4 (right) a bit less than midway between waypoints 5D22 and 5D23. It's a really good idea to locate this challenge point, get off your bike and then look around. The trail ahead may not go where you think that it goes (Go west, young man).

Descend to the western flanks of Wood's Peak and contour around a few miles to an intersection with Trail 4135 (Black-Alder Creek). D5 challenge point #5 is the spectacular view from the boulder field just beyond waypoint 5D23 (below). After that it's a very pleasant cruise down Alder Creek to Morgan Creek Road (055).

Soloists - at the base of Alder Creek turn left (north) on Morgan Creek Road (FS 055) and follow it a few miles to Morgan Creek Summit. Turn right (east) on road 40129. At the end of this road you'll intersect Trail 8360. Continue along Trail 8360 north, then east, another 3.3 miles to an intersection with trail 6093. Soloists are advised to follow this allowed short cut. Trails 8360 and 6093 have a few sections that may slow soloists down significantly. The short cut does not bypass these sections but does allow one to access them more quickly. 

Teams -  at the base of Alder Creek turn right (south) on 055 and head a few miles to trail Trail 8360 (Corral Creek-Hat Creek) on the left. Follow Corral Creek Trail north a few miles to the intersection with Road 40129. From this point proceed as described above.
Van Horn View.
D5 cp #4. It's a really good idea to locate this spot and stop.

Alder
Alder Creek - D5 challenge point #5 
The D5 Challenge Section goes down Lick Creek (4142), up FS 055 and up Van Horn Creek (4139). This challenge short, interesing and fun - though the downhill on Lick Creek may prove scintillating. Why you should ride it. Great views and generally very easy. Why you should not. The trail it replaces is pretty cool as well.

For everyone else turn left (north) at the intersection of 8360 and 6093 and follow FS 6093 a few miles north to Hat Creek Lakes. Hat Creek Lakes and surroundings are spectacular - one of my favorite places along the entire Tour. There is a short, 100 yard section climbing out of the lakes toward Taylor Mountain Pass that will take some time and effort for most soloists. The final challenge point of the day (#6) is located at the top of Taylor Mountain Pass between waypoints 5D31 and 5D32 (shown below). The first of two optional (or bonus) challenge points is on top of Taylor Mountain off to the west. For those of you who intend to ride every special challenge and obtain every challenge point in record time, here you go.

From the pass continue generally north another 3 or so miles to Iron lake. From Iron Lake
continue north along FS 020 road 7 miles to an intersection with NFD 099 on the left.

Continue along FS020 for 10 miles to Williams Creek Summit (some of the views along this ridge are truly stunning). Turn left (west) at the intersection and follow the Salmon Truck Route 13 miles down to Panther Creek. Don't let "Truck Route" fool you - this is a sweet ride. From the intersection with Panther Creek Road it's 45 uneventful miles to North Fork.

Over the years the Tour has, in some years, made an overnight stop at Shoup. We recommended The Shoup Store for gas, great food, lodging and some motorcycle supplies during seasons it was open. Unfortunately, as of 2016, the Shoup Store has once again closed and up for sale. This is the third time in the history of the Tour this has happened and we are no longer recommending Shoup as a reliable overnight stop. Instead ride 17 miles east to The Village at North Fork where you'll find food, accommodations, supplies and fuel.

North Fork is a very well-established facility. If you get to North Fork and the store is boarded up it means that the world has come to an end while you were out in the woods.
.Hat Creek Lakes
Taylor Mountain Pass. D5 challenge point #6 is here. 

While in North Fork please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.
Village at North Fork

D6 - North Fork to Lowell (250 miles)

D6 Profile

CS Butcher Knife Ridge ** ST 1
CS Divide Trail, PG * ST 2+
505 Trail ATV 2
Anderson Butte Trail  ATV 2

Day six is one of the easiest days of the Tour. Though most of the riding covers scenic dirt roads, the 50 miles of single track and ATV trail east of Elk City are a treat. Budget 8 hours to Elk City and another couple of hours to Lowell. The only major difficulty is that D6 begins one of the longest gas-less stretches of the Tour. There is exactly one place for gas in the next 425+ miles. Your Giant Loop fuel bags will prove their value in the next two days. The D6 challenge is one of the best of the Tour. If I were going to choose only one challenge section it would be this one.

You'll want to load up on gas at North Fork because the next opportunity for fuel (short of scavenging) is in Elk City, 200 miles away. Many many years of bitter experience have taught us that dirt bikes make particularly poor wheelbarrows when deployed along the Darby-Elk City Road. You'd be amazed at how few people travel that road when you are out of fuel.
 


Magruder Road
Magruder Road near challenge point #3
Head west out of North Fork along NFD 030 about 8 miles to an intersection with Sage Creek Road (NFD 005) on the right (north). It is here, right out of the chute, you'll encounter the D6 challenge, Butcher Knife Ridge/Divide Trail, which ascends steeply many thousands of feet to the Idaho/Montana border. This one is a good one and eminently worthy of your consideration.

Why you should ride it. Butcher Knife Ridge is one of the best single track trails on the entire Tour. Why you should not. Spring Creek Road is pretty scenic as well. The lookout tally is the same either way. On the standard route you get Blue Nose, on the challenge section you get Ulysses Mountain. Both are challenge points and you can claim one or the other depending on your choice of route.

Continue along NFC 030 a few more miles to NFD 038, Spring Creek Road. Head north and ascend nearly 4000' over the next 16 miles to NFD 044 near Beartrap Ridge (8303'). A bit north of this is Blue Nose Lookout (8677'). Follow NFD 044 north 5.5 miles to Horse Creek Pass (7400') on the Idaho-Montana border. Turn right (north) and head downhill along Beaver Creek 10 or so miles to West Fork Highway (473), which is paved. From  the intersection of  NFD044 to  Nez Perce Pass you are in Montana. 

Turn east (right) onto 473 and follow it generally north for several miles past the community of Alta to mile-marker 26 (just south of Painted Rocks Reservoir). Turn left (west) onto NFD 5660 (Coal Creek Road) and follow it past some homes (please respect the privacy of these homeowners and take it easy while riding the right of way through their properties) for about a mile to an intersection with NFD 5658 on the right. Turn right at this intersection and go several miles as Upper Coal Creek Road skirts the south and west shores of Painted Rocks Reservoir on a scenic ridge high above the waters.  

Eventually the road descends into a valley and intersects with NFD 362. Turn left on NFD 362 and follow it a short distance to the first road that veers off to the right. Follow a series of well-marked roads 6 miles up to Tough Creek Saddle. From Tough Creek Saddle follow the road the goes north then west descending steeply down to the Nez Perce Road.

You are beginning a trek through the heart of the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states - the Frank Church. Head west on Nez Perce (also know as the Darby-Elk City Road) to Nez Perce Pass (6597') - D6 challenge point #2. This pass marks the approximate halfway point of the Tour of Idaho. Go west 15 miles downhill to the Selway River, then another 5 miles to the Magruder Crossing Campground and an intersection with NFD 6223 on the north (right). Go left (south) continuing along the Nez Perce Road and the Magruder Corridor. The road climbs a long grade 5 miles to Kim Creek Saddle (6000'). Continue a few more miles to Salmon Mountain (8228'). 
Kim Creek Saddle
Midnight repair on the second Tour of Idaho

Elk City
505/835 Trails
Salmon Mountain Lookout is the second optional (bonus) Challenge Point of the Tour and as with the first you have to hike a bit to get there (though not nearly as much!). The Salmon Mountail Trail (FST  705) is a 1.2 mike trek that gains about 700 feet. If you fail to use your motor and wheels appropriately elsewhere you can make up for it here the old fashioned way!

Continue along the Nez Perce/Magruder Corridor/Darby-Elk City Road (video) 40 miles, generally west, to Mountain Meadows. Your third D6 challenge point is a short out and back to Burnt Knob Lookout (8196'). After this descend steeply into Poet Creek then trek an interminable number of miles along the world's most dangerous dirt road looking for an ATV trail (505) that departs the road north less than a mile from Mountain Meadows (mile marker 6, waypoint 6D36).

The 505/835 ATV trail network is one of the better ones along the entire Tour. Follow the 505 north several miles to Soda Creek Point. Your fourth challenge point of the day is a bit beyond Soda Creek Point where the trail turns off the ridge near waypoint 6D37. Continue as the trail gradually follows a series of switchbacks down the mountain to Red River and FS 234, Hot Springs Road (note: Red River Hot Springs is 2.5 miles northeast along the road 234 at this point. There are supplies there, but no gas pumps).

Turn left and head southwest on FS 234 a mile or so to an intersection with Divide Road (FS 423). Turn right and head west then north a few miles up single track to an intersection with FSR 1182. Then it's northeast for a few miles to an intersection with FSR 423. Follow 423 to Black Hawk Mountain (video). 

Until 2016 the Tour continued past Black Hawk Mountain directly to Lowell. Unfortunately the only gas station in Lowell is now closed. That being the case you'll have to take the 25-mile detour west into Elk City for gas. Elk City is a pretty remarkable place. It's remote and as such well-stocked to keep the locals from having to make the horrendous drive to the nearest town.You'll find gas, food and some supplies if you look around. You'll want to take on as much gas as you can carry at Elk City because it's 225+ miles to the next gas along the Tour route at Powell Ranger Station.

The network of roads, single track trails, ATV trails and goat trails around Elk City is a complex maze. I've ridden these trails dozens of times and I still have trouble in places. That's because there are trails literally going everywhere - often within a few feet of each other. In places there will be a road, an ATV trail and a single track all going in the same direction a few yards apart. This is the one area along the Tour where you may be forgiven from wandering from the established route. Just get into Elk City and back on the Tour the best way that you can that's close to the recommended route. The recommended route is good, but good luck staying on it. 

After Elk City you'll ride back to the 505 and head generally northwest along ATV trails (505) another few miles to Anderson Butte. Your fifth and last D6 challenge point is on top of Anderson Butte between waypoints 6D79 and 6D80. After this go northwest 10 or so miles along the Anderson Butte Recreational Trail (835) to NFD 443 (Note: There is a right turn just north of Anderson Butte that is not completely obvious). Continue north on NFD 443 a short distance to an intersection with NFD 464 on the west (left). Turn east (right) and continue along NFD 443 another 6 miles until the road narrows near Falls Point. Here the road takes an amazing 3800' plunge in 7 miles to Selway Falls. Once in the valley follow the Selway River downstream a mile or so to a bridge crossing. On the other side of the bridge turn northeast (left) and follow the Selway Road downstream some 14 miles to Lowell.

Lowell is a small community with a motel and a restaurant. As of 2016 the gas station/store (Cougar Station) is closed. The Wilderness Inn is currently the only dependable option for lodging.

Lowell is the lowest elevation of the Tour at 1450'.


While in Lowell, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho.




D7 - Lowell to Powell RS
(175 miles) 

D7 Profile

Pete King Ridge * ATV 1
Fish Butte, R ** ST 4
Fish Butte ATV 1
CS Sherman Creek, R * ST 5
Fish Creek, R * ST 4
Ant Hill ST 3
Windy Ridge ** ST 3
Windy Bill * ST 3
Raspberry  ST 3
Marten ATV 1
Switchback Hill/Scurvy Mountain ST 4-
Junction Mountain ST 3
Scurvy Mountain * ATV 1

Pete King
Pete King Trail
Day seven is a good one. You'll want to get an early start as the short distance to Powell Ranger Station (175+ miles - depending on the exact route taken) makes the day deceiving. Much of D7 is spent on single track trail that, though mostly moderate, is relatively slow going. Powell Ranger Station is also a good place to get to early if you expect to find an unreserved bunk. Expect to spend about 10 hours on the bike. Hopefully you have supplemental fuel you carried from Elk City because it's 230 miles from Elk City to Powell Ranger Station - they next place along the Tour you'll find fuel.

From Lowell go east on Highway 12 about 2 miles to Pete King Creek. Head up the creek for about a mile then turn right (east) and climb steeply along an ATV trail for several miles to Pete King Ridge and an eventual intersection with FS 460. Follow 460 for a few miles west toward Higgins Hump then take FS 5515 a few miles north to Fan Saddle and an intersection with FS 101. After a short side trip to Walde Lookout (D7 challenge point #1 - up the ladder and in the tower), continue north several miles along FS 101 to Canyon Junction.

From Canyon Junction take NFD 483 several miles east to Frenchman's Butte. Continue east several more miles to Middle Butte, then 
north and east to Fish Butte Saddle. Here you'll find trail 2230 on the right and a short, 3-mile out and back to the top of Fish Butte straight ahead where you'll find the second challenge point of D7 - near waypoint 7D25.

Soloists: You are premitted to turn north and take a short cut down ATV trail 229 (Fish Butte Saddle) to Trail 2240 (Fish Creek) - waypoints 7DA0 through 7DA2. You'll miss one of the more spectacular single tracks of D7 by doing this but will save at least an hour that might come in handy later. If you decide to stay on the regular route down Fish Butte Trail there is another shortcut opportunity later in the day.

Teams: Head east along 2230 several miles downhill to Hwy 12. At Hwy 12 you'll have a choice between continuing along the regular route or tackling the day's challenge section - Sherman Creek. To ride the challenge follow Hwy 12 northeast a couple of miles to Sherman Creek Trail which is found on the left. This challenge is neither particularly scenic nor inspiring but it does require high effort. It rejoins the regular route at the Lolo Motorway (FS500) several miles east of FS485.

Why you should ride it. If you have been bored and feel as if you are not getting enough exercise the first six days of the Tour that'll all change here. This variant is significantly shorter than the regular route so you'll save fuel. Why you should not. Know your size. This one requires some
mojo. 

Near Highway 12 the Tour turns left and heads east up trail 2240, Fish Creek, several miles to Trail 225, Ant Hill. Climb steeply for a few miles  to FS485 and follow this east to the Lolo Motorway, FS500. Some of the switchbacks going up Ant Hill are high effort for soloists.

Turn right (east) on NFD 500 and proceed a few miles to a brief out and back to the Castle Creek Lookout (challenge point #3). After this head generally east several more miles to 12-mile Saddle. Here at 12-mile Saddle the fun really begins. 
Fish Butte
Fish Butte Trail
Windy Ridge
Windy Ridge Trail
Head north along single track trail 164 a few miles to an intersection with trail 594 (Raspberry Butte) on the right (east). Soloists: If you did not take the Fish Butte Saddle shortcut you may take a shortcut down Trail 594 to Trail 117 (Marten Hill) to Road 587 (Marten Creek) to Trail 255 (Marten Creek) to Road 107 (Saddle Camp) back to the Lolo Motorway. This shortcut will save at least a couple of hours and avoid a few high effort sections of Trail 531. Soloists electing to take this shortcut may easily pickup the last D7 challenge point, Scurvy Mountain Lookout, on D8.

Teams: Continue along Trail 164 another few miles to an intersection with trail 531 on the right (waypoint 7D48).
Take trail 531 to Windy Bill Saddle, across and down Switchback Hill, then climb Scurvy Mountain to a truly spectacular view and your last challenge point of the day near waypoint 7D55. The section of Trail 531 through Scurvy Saddle and up the switchbacks (from 7D53 to 7D54) is lightly used and seldom brushed or sawed. Many parties have struggled to find the path forward through the thick brush - especially in the dark. The Scurvy Mountain LO is available to groups as a wilderness retreat. Please be courteous to anyone you meet there.
From Scurvy Mountain LO you'll follow an ATV trail steeply downhill several miles to East Saddle and FS 581 road. Follow this east and south to Cayuse Creek, then uphill to Toboggan Ridge. Continue southeast along 581 around 20 miles to Cayuse Junction and an intersection with the Lolo Motorway (NFD 500). Follow NFD 500 east about 10 miles to Papoose Saddle. From here you are very close to Powell Junction with numerous alternatives, all involving logging roads. The suggested route, which follows NFD 568 downhill to US 12, is as good as any. 

A left turn (east) on US 12 will deposit you at your destination in about 3 miles. Here you'll encounter the historic Powell Ranger Station and Lochsa Lodge. I guarantee that you'll find the ambiance very enjoyable after a day of great riding.

You'll need to make a reservation in advance (generally by several months) if you want a place to sleep that's not on grass. The complex contains a lodge, campground, cabins a general store and gas pumps. 
Scurvy LOScurvy Mountain LO

While at Lochsa Lodge, please be sure to patronize these supporters of the Tour of Idaho. Lochsa Lodge



D8 - Powell RS to Wallace
(170 miles)

Profile D8

Rock Garden Trail, R ** ST 4
State Line Trail, PG *** ST 3
CS Simmons Creek/Simmons-Hellar Divide, PG ST 3
CS Simmons Ridge, R ** ST 5-