TR: Montana MtB Sept 2018

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by 406, Sep 20, 2018.

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  1. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Advocacy very long story very short: Congress requires the USFS to catalog areas that could be potentially designated as Wilderness by Congress. Classifications of interest are: Recommended Wilderness areas, Wilderness Study areas, and inventoried roadless areas. Several of the forests in Region 1 of the USFS have started managing these areas as defacto Wilderness ( no bikes!) in the most recent round of travel management plans. Despite decades of allow mountain bikes, often moto, and snowmobile. This is a huge issue and is resulting in the loss of hundreds of miles of mountain bike trail. Most of these trails are of no interest to hikers, so nature reclaims them soon after they are closed.

    So a lot of the motivation of this trip and past Montana mountain bike trips, was to ride areas that will likely get closed soon.

    Flight was into SLC due to cost, times, and option to change the plan last minute if Montana was on fire or snow covered. It was a little warm in the Wasatch, but nice fall colors.

    Day 1:
    Saturday Sept 9th, 6 am flight departing and arriving SLC at 9, get rental car, bear spray and fuel at REI. Plan was to ride the Wasatch Crest IMBA epic loop. Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed, so drove around to Park City. Assembled bikes in parking lot and got ready to ride. I guess this was evdog's first road trip :), because he showed up with a non functioning front brake. I started riding up Armstrong & Pinecone while he went to the bike shop and drove to Guardsman Pass, with plan to rendezvous at start of Wasatch Crest. Aspens starting to go off:

    Scenic as advertised:


    gnar that evdog cleaned while e-bikers walked the c line:

    After the crest, bunch of well built trail in the trees with views when crossing the ski runs.

    I took Spiro trail back to town and arrived just as it was getting dark. Evan had to ride back up to the van, so I recovered in the Top Stop for a couple hours waiting.

    34 miles and 5k ft of up:
    PATKOUG, konakc, levity and 15 others like this.
  2. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 2:
    Ending so late the night prior, we still had some driving to do to get to start of ride. Also needed to stop and get groceries. I forgot to double check google map directions with the USFS map, so we bumbled along a bunch of jeep trails to get to the trailhead rather than the nice gravel road. Total morning delays end up being a couple hours, so started ride around 1 pm.

    Plan was CDT from Aldous Lake to Taylor Mtn out and back in the Centennial Mountains. Trail starts out very nice going up in the trees:

    Crossing into Montana, we are welcomed with big views:

    And experimental sheep:

    Nice rustic trail and views, crossing several meadows and a few streams:

    Would have been a couple more hours to bag the peak, so we turned around at a high point to avoid finishing in the dark in prime griz habitat. View of Taylor Mtn:

    Nice and mostly down ride back to the van:

    18 miles and 3k ft of up:
    PATKOUG, konakc, levity and 17 others like this.
  3. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 3:
    More CDT on the menu, this time from Targhee Pass and down Targhee Cr, in the Lionhead Mtns.

    A few miles on the highway to get to the pass and the CDT:

    Trail is lots of up along the ridge, with awesome views:

    The riding in these mountains is amazing:


    Pee on one side and it goes to the Atlantic, the other side and it goes to the Pacific:

    Trail does a good job staying on the divide:

    Lunch spot:

    Then down to the trail junction, back up past a lake were we watched a black bear swim for 15 minutes(Evdog has better photos):

    Down Targhee creek is lots of fun, fast sections, technical switchbacks, and nice views:

    New to me beer, for some reason the cans caught my eye:

    21 miles and 4k ft of up:
    PATKOUG, konakc, levity and 19 others like this.
  4. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 4:
    Plan was CDT Mile cr to Sheep Cr, which is in the top 5 best rides I have ever done. I was having some major knee pain and took the day off having already done this loop in the past. Really bummed to miss a day, but wanted to get better for the rest of the week which was mostly new to me rides. Went to the earthquake lake sights(very interesting), checked out some trailheads for no bike signs(nope), and some hot springs(private). Evdog can post photos from the ride, should be about 25 miles and 5k ft of up.
    PATKOUG, ~JB~, mike and 12 others like this.
  5. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 5:
    Wolverine Basin Loop, Gravelly Mtns, Montana. Without a shuttle we parked at 7000 feet and biked up the road to the start of trail, then odd man out shuttles the final 3 miles that drop 1000 vert ft to the Madison River.

    You can't see the peaks from the highway, but nice views riding up the dirt road:

    Bear went over the mountain:

    Trail is very nice:

    Crossing several small meadows:

    Until it crosses a huge meadow:

    Down from the highpoint, trail is faint for a few miles:

    Lower down, views of the Madison mountains and pass through some aspen groves:

    Last few miles was smooth and fast, I was guessing chunky, so was a little disappointed, but still fun:

    Drink to MT:

    21 miles and 3k ft of up:
    PATKOUG, levity, ~JB~ and 15 others like this.
  6. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 6:
    Loop in the Bridger Mountains. We did a long point to point on the Bridger Foothill trail back in 2012. Some newer trail allowed for us to do a loop this time.

    Camped at the campground at the trailhead and awoke to some new snow and wet camp:

    Got to sleep in until the rain stopped, so that was nice. Sun started to come out as we hike a bike and biked up to the pass:


    Evdog making a challenging uphill switchback:


    Final push to the pass:

    We had planned to bag the peak like the 2012 trip, but weather was not very good so started on the Bridger foothill trail:

    The Bridger foothill trail is in my top 10 favorite trails, the description from trailforks: "This is an elegant piece of single track that is carved improbably into alpine faces, dipping in and out of gullies and ravines with stunning views in an unbelievable setting. Be advised this trail is not for everybody. The consistent side hill nature (often with exposure), in addition to the remoteness and technicality of this trail, requires solid bike handling skills, mental focus and a sense of adventure. The uphills are short but require some amount of hike-a-bike and the downhills can include anything from buff alpine single track to steep chunky switchbacks. Expect it all and enjoy the adventure."




    Often only about the width of both feet:

    With good amount of exposure:

    Ross Pass trail is fun and has nice flow:

    15 miles and 3600 ft of up:

    Drove out to the Big Snowy Mountains, but stopped in Two Dot, Montana for burgers:
    Faust29, PATKOUG, konakc and 17 others like this.
  7. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 7:
    Awoke at the Ice Cave loop ride trailhead and it was very wet. So packed up and drove to Helena. Plan was a loop that include going to the top of Casey Peak, in the Elkhorn Mountains just outside town.
    Started with easy couple miles in the trees:

    Steeper as we go up:

    Good amount of hike the bike as we turn off for the peak:

    Ride a few spots:

    Lots of "this will be fun on the down":

    Summit, odometer on the #ripmo passed 500 miles on this ride:

    Summit block was all rock riding, fun challenge:

    Still required lots of attention after getting back in the trees:

    About 4 miles of steep chunky down:

    Then 3 miles of fast smooth flowing trail back to van, beer, and swimming:

    12 miles and 3600 ft of up:

    WOP chop in Butte, America for dinner. Drove south to Bannock Pass for the night.
  8. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Day 8:
    I wanted to check out one more section of CDT in the Beaverhead Mountains, but had a flight from SLC at 8 pm. So we woke up early:

    Started north from Bannock pass toward Goat mtn. Trail is very nice:

    Mostly up with a few down miles:

    Some big views:


    Turn around time:

    I went ahead and hammered back to the van so that I could get the bike packed up while Evan made his way back:

    A hunter from Idaho chatted with us and gave us a few Bud's...we made sure to open them on the Idaho side:

    Found a river for a swim and then nice drive back to Salt Lake City while I watched Montana's loss to Western IL :facepalm:. Returned the bear spray to REI and stopped in the Cotton Bottom for some garlic cheese burgers. My final navigation mistake of the trip had me checking into flight 1 hour prior to departure...right on time! Quality time with the kids and wife on Sunday. Took the 3 year old to the pool for a few hours.

    Trail Encounters: 0 mountain bikers on trail while in MT/ID. Evan chatted with 1 backpacker in the Lionhead, a few day hikers & 1 quad in the Bridgers, probably a dozen total bow hunters(all seemed to be off trail). Elk in the Centennials, black bear in the Lionhead, Big horn sheep, Mountain goats in the Bridgers, fox in the Beaverhead.
    Faust29, PATKOUG, levity and 16 others like this.
  9. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    In closing, a request....
    The Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) is undergoing a Forest Planning Process and has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) giving us what may be our last opportunity to provide public comment. Unique among all of Region One Forest plan choices over the past 15 years is finally an alternative that would allow existing uses to continue within Recommended Wilderness!! This alternative choice is a gift and we must comment to support it, bicyclists must speak up! Don’t delay, comment deadline is Oct. 9, 2018! Here is a link to the DEIS:

    If you don't have much time, just check for my typo's, cut and paste the sample letter below into the form at:

    Better if you can add some personal sentence and mix things up a little.

    The Wilderness folk are pushing for alternative D which will close another 442 miles of trail. B would be bad too. A & E are not really options that will happen:

    I frequently travel to destinations in the western United Sates known for excellent and diverse mountain bike trail riding. While visiting these regions, I supporting local business such as lodging, restaurant, breweries, and retail. I am very interested in visiting Montana for a mountain bike vacation. I support Alternative C in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) Forest Planning Process, with the exception that Alternative C be amended to drop The Elkhorn Core proposal from the DEIS. It is important that backcountry riding opportunities remain open to mountain bikes for the tourism economy of the Helena region. Additionally, all sections of Continental Divide Trail outside of Wilderness Areas designated by Congress, should remain open to mountain bikes allowing for multi-day bike packing and remote riding experiences.

    Thanks! The End.
    Faust29, PATKOUG, levity and 16 others like this.
  10. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripmo, Ripley V4 & DV9
    Looks awesome!
  11. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Hooligan

    Current Bike:
    Tallboy Upgrade
    Fantastic RR, as always! These are so amazing, that I really can't even comprehend it happening.

    Comment left, here's the quick link to the comment area:

    "Hello, I travel and ride bikes in the western United States every year. I dread the thought of 400+ miles of trails becoming off limits if this management plan D proceeds. Option C seems to be the best balance between preservation/conservation, and recreation. Multiple studies have shown mountain bikes do not damage trails or lead to erosion. Pack animals cause much more damage if we're being honest. I hope to visit these trails at some point, and ride my bike on them, as has been done for the last 30 years without a negative impact to the ecosystem or communities. Thank you."
  12. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Wow you guys rock! Big mountain riding. Major elevation for the milage. Fantastic!
  13. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    I so appreciate you guys taking the time to post these epics!
    It’s kinda what imtbtrails is known for are the epic ride reports.

    I also did what you asked and sent a letter as the owner of an organization of mountain bikers representing 1260 members (that should get there attention at least a little :sneaky:)...
    Thanks for bringing that to our attention.
    Bike on!

  14. schillingsworth

    schillingsworth Member

    Queen Creek, AZ
    John Schilling
    Current Bike:
    Motobecane Ti 29er
    Nicely done!! @evdog is such a buzzkill, you'd think that dude would maintain his bike prior to an amazing trip as this!! Comment sent.
  15. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Great TR and pics. I'll post mine up soon.

    Something to add to the advocacy angle: some people may be thinking how is a forest and travel plan amendment relevant to me here in Socal? It is actually very relevant because the Forest Service, like other agencies and even the courts, tends to follow precedents once set. So if National Forests like Helena Lewis and Clark start disallowing use of bikes in Wilderness Study Areas then other Forests are more likely to follow suit. So it is very important to get as many people as possible to write in. Montana for some reason has the highest concentration of Wilderness and environmental groups in the US, most of which are funded by out of state money yet are trying to kick bikes and motos off trails locally. You can bet they will be writing in with their "world is ending due to bikes on trails" BS comments. Region 1 which Montana is a part of also produces a lot of USFS Chiefs, so anything we can due to influence and educate people up there will not hurt us in the long run.
    Luis and Cyclotourist like this.
  16. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    You sent a comment to USFS about my front brake? :cautious: :Roflmao

    Yeah not sure what happened with that. I bled brakes right before the trip. Starting the ride, the first short descent we got to I used the brake and the pressure immediately faded to zero. If I let off, pressure would return but if I pulled the lever for a second or so you could feel it totally dissipate. Went into the shop and the mechanic said that fluid was moving into the hose between the inner brake sleeve and the housing. All I can think of is the hose got pulled on during transit when the bag got jostled around. Had to buy a new front brake which was good for the rest of the trip.
  17. littlewave

    littlewave Well-Known Member

    Newport Beach
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    Nice report!!

    Comment sent.
  18. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Thanks guys and double thanks for sending in comments.
  19. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Incredible trip and reportage! TFPU!
    mountaingirl sara likes this.
  20. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Finally getting around to my pics and TR.....

    I had been wanting to sneak in a quick Montana trip this summer to hit up a few favorite rides from past years – Bridger in Montana, Lionhead, etc. When a judge unexpectedly opened some Wilderness Study Area trails to MTB this summer thoughts turned to a longer trip to take advantage. Unfortunately the wildernuts filed a complaint to that judge who then ruled the trails weren’t open to bikes afterall. Change of plans was to ride some other trails whose bike access is also threatened. Sadly there seems to be no shortage of those in MT.

    After considering options we flew into SLC and opted to ride Wasatch Crest since it would be “shorter” (haha) and give us more time to get some errands done. Last time I did the ride I started from Mill Creek Canyon. That trail is open to bikes alternate days (not today) and Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed for a race, so we headed around to Park City to start. That was fine with me and I was looking forward to some new trail on that side.

    Day 1 – Wasatch Crest

    Bike build session in the resort parking lot. Ignore the fact I’ve rotated my fork the wrong way, that’s the new style


    We got about ½ mile and a couple short descents when I realized something was wrong with my front brake. It would have pressure but with a second or so sustained pull pressure would completely dissipate to nothing. Release, pressure would return but disappear again. I’d just bled brakes so there was something wrong. Decided to re-bleed at the van and/or go to a shop and meet up with 406 higher on the mountain.


    Found the local shop mechanic asleep, had to wake him up. Turned out fluid was leaking in between the inner brake sleeve and outer housing. All I can figure is the handlebar got yanked on during airline transit and it pulled the hose out of the lever slightly. So, in the interest of time just bought a new front brake and installed it.


    Now to meet up with 406. Drove up Guardsman pass. Not sure what was going but on there were a million cars parked both sides of the road but didn’t see any hikers on the trail. Ran into fall colors right away on Scotts connector.


    Fortunately there was coverage and was able to connect with 406 right at the start of the crest singletrack. Perfect.


    The scenery delivers. I rode the loop the opposite direction last time so was looking forward to riding it the “right” way


    Aspen tunnel


    Nice view of Desolation Lake


    406 riding the gnar line



    Nothing ruins a good photo more than an E-biker hiking his bike down the smooth go round


    Dear E-biker,


    Continuing on…


    We still had a long ways to go so didn’t stop much to enjoy the views. Continued on around Mid mountain


    A bit of footage of different parts of the ride. Won't embed?

    It was already getting close to sunset when we got to the turnoff. 406 just had to head downhill but I had about 6 mi of climbing left to get back to the van. The downside of our plan. In retrospect should have rode down and then caught an Uber back to the pass but didn’t consider that. Took a couple hours to make the climb which made for a late night with still some driving to do.


    Fun ride, need to spend some more time in Park City / SLC one of these times.
    Cyclotourist, PATKOUG, levity and 8 others like this.
  21. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 2 – CDT Centennial Mountains

    With some delays to do shopping and traverse some secondary and dirt roads we didn’t get riding until well after noon. I didn’t have a good picture of what this ride would be like as the reports I’d read from this mountain range made it hard to pin down the actual route. 406 had done the research on this one. Now that we’ve been here we’ll know more for next time.

    The real reason 406 got an invite for the trip


    Nice trailhead kiosk




    There was some nice singletrack through the trees after the first lung-buster climb


    Which brought us to a nice meadow that offered a peek at some peaks in the distance


    Stopping to take in the view. Our goal for the day was the distant peak on the right. Yeah, it looks pretty far off


    After some nice meadow riding we came to this crossing. Most of the crossings we’d come to had bridges


    The trail couldn’t decide if it wanted to be in Idaho or Montana


    Awesome views opened up at the top of this climb


    And the trail got faint through some of the meadows. At more than a few points we’d be on what seemed like the trail then see another line 10-20 feet up that was more worn in


    Pano view


    Good viewpoint


    That distant peak isn’t so distant now…


    Final climb


    406 reaching the last cairn


    Our original goal was the peak in the center of the photo. But with the late start and 2,000ft more climbing this would have us ending the ride through prime grizz country in the dark. Finishing in the dark has never phased us but maybe in our old age we are getting wiser, so safety won out. The view north off the peak would have been awesome, but this view here was nothing to complain about.
    And you always need a reason to come back, right?


    Some footage of the descent back to trailhead:

    Part 1 -
    Part 2 -

    A few people had said this was a good ride and it turned out to be true. Trail was in great shape for the most part which is as much as you can ask for in the backcountry.

    Stats - 18mi and +/- 3,000ft
  22. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 3 – Lionhead Range, CDT to Targhee Creek Trail

    The Lionhead is another area in the sights of the wildernuts and may be the next Wilderness battleground as part of it is in a WSA.

    Wanting to do a couple rides in this range, we opted to do the easier CDT to Targhee Creek Trail loop first.

    Getting the scary part out of the way we started with a couple miles of pedaling up a busy highway with heavy truck traffic. Thanks, but I’d rather take my chances with the bears…


    Then we had a couple miles of easy forest road climbing which led to some nice singletrack


    It didn’t take long for views to open up


    We’d be doing a traverse around Bald Mtn so it was a constant backdrop


    Stopping for another break in the climbing


    Getting up there


    Views were incredible



    After a lunch break we had a 1000ft switchback descent down to the basin on the other side

    Some footage dropping down:


    A bit of traversing and some more climbing came next


    Sure bears can use the trail but someone should have warned us they’d be in our swimming holes too


    I had stopped after a short steep section to catch my breath when 406 called me over


    A dip in the lake would have been nice but present company may not have been welcoming


    Eventually he smelled us and wandered off


    Dropping into Targhee Creek trail


    It had some fun chunk and challenging switchbacks


    Widow maker


    And a bit of hike a bike to keep us honest


    Some footage of the fun parts -

    The last couple miles were a mellow cruise. After a post ride beer it was into West Yellowstone for dinner


    Definitely a fun ride. Next time I’d like to continue on up to the high point and check out Dry Fork trail. We saw its exit and the following day I’d see its upper start, and it looks like a legit trail.
  23. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 4 – Lionhead Range, Mile Creek to Sheep Creek

    We rode Mile to Sheep back in 2012 and despite getting rained on for half the ride this was on my list of top rides. So it was a must-do on this trip.

    You can ride it as a partial point to point shuttle or pedal 7 miles of dirt/pavement to close the loop.
    After I reminded 406 that it was his turn to do the road pedal to retrieve the truck he opted to sit this one out claiming knee pain. So I borrowed the bear spray and took off solo.

    Montana has terrible views


    The climb up was steady but not terrible. I did take plenty of stops to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery. The first climb would take me from 7,000ft to 10,000ft.


    After a long traverse up a canyon above Mile Creek there is a series of 30 or so switchbacks. As I get into those the views open up


    Making friends on the climb


    First intersection and top of Mile Creek Trail


    The high point, 10,000ft at Targhee Divide. On our first ride this was where the rain started and we had to decide whether to bail or continue on. There would be no such decision today, though it was cold and windy up top


    After a short descent there is a series of tight switchbacks through a field of unique straited rocks


    You can see the trail exit far below


    Awesome view. I stopped for a while and took it all in


    No bears at the swimming hole so I continued on. The trail flows a lot better this direction with a solid 2,500ft of traversing and descending

    Some footage of the descent starting from the top:


    Getting to the Coffin Lakes turnoff I met my first trail users for the day


    The climb up is fairly steep but has some nice parts as well


    It follows a stream for a while which added to the scenery but also concern over bears since there had been a few fresh “reminders” left on the trail


    Above the Coffin lakes turnoff the trail is much less used. Some sections traversing open slopes were quite overgrown. I actually came across a hiker here who was day hiking from camp at Coffin Lakes. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.


    In this meadow in particular the trail was hard to follow. Easy to see here but lower down it wasn’t visible at all


    Fresh pile


    Top of the climb was some nice forested singletrack. The ride ends down Sheep Creek Trail which is in a WSA and threatened for access. It’s a long descent with tough switchbacks up top and exits through a rocky canyon down below. It was a long day but a great ride, still in my top 5 or so rides. Get up there and do this ride if you get the chance!

    No pics once I started the descent but I ran the go-pro most of the way so here is some footage if you need something to do at work:

    Upper Sheep switchbacks don't look like much but they are tight turns on steep side slopes. Was stoked to clean them all then messed up a chute soon after

    Lower Sheep part 1:
    Lower Sheep part 2:


    Post ride swim was in Earthquake Lake then back to West Yellowstone for BBQ dinner


    I think the stats were around 30mi and +/- 6,000ft
  24. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 5 – Wolverine Basin to Gazelle Creek Trail

    Wolverine Basin in the Gravelly Range is another ride where bike access is threatened due to WSA designation. Without the ability to shuttle we planned to loop the upper part and if the trail was good and we made good time, odd-man-out shuttle the lower few miles. Not much was known about the ride and it could have been a mess of downed trees, but fortunately it turned out to be a great ride.

    The ride wasn’t far from camp but we managed to see some wildlife on the drive over


    It was a fairly easy 7 mile road climb to the start with minimal road traffic


    Wolverine Basin. Not much there but some vacant hunting camps


    We started off climbing through the meadow


    The trail alternated between riding in trees and going through some small meadows


    As we continued on the meadows got larger and larger


    This was the biggest one and after passing through it we had some hike a bike up and over a ridge with a few false summits


    Looking back down


    This led to another huge meadow that descended down a valley for ages. We saw a lone hunter on this descent, the only trail user we’d see all day


    Climbing up to Freezeout Mtn might be a side detour option for another day


    Trail got pretty faint in a few places


    After traversing through forest for quite a while we ended up back in more meadows, with a nice view of the Madison Mtns this time


    406 did the first odd-man-out lap down the lower trail and said it was ok but not great. Since we wouldn’t have time for another ride today I decided to give it a go. I thought it was awesome. Pretty buff and smooth, fast and fun. Definitely a contrast to the rest of the ride which would have made for a happy ending in a continuous run.

    Part 1 -
    Part 2 -



    After taking a stick off the shin the brush did a good job of making it look uglier than it was


    I definitely liked this ride and would do it again. If you are heading up to Bozeman it’s a pretty easy one to do, right off the highway. To do the full ride you’d probably want to shuttle, though you could easily climb up the lower singletrack for some bonus miles.

    Stats were 21 miles and +/- 3,000ft for the loop and another 1,000ft descent in 4 miles for the odd man out shuttle
  25. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 6 – Bridger Divide

    Bridger was my other must-do ride on this trip. Such awesome views and high mountain slope riding. Weather was looking a bit iffy but it seemed like the storm that should have come through afternoon/evening after the Wolverine ride petered out and the next one wouldn’t hit until we would be mostly done this ride. Drove up the road to Fairy Lake CG, it was a bit much for the rental van but we made it.

    We got woken up around 3am hearing footsteps outside the tents. Whatever it was ran off when 406 stirred but he didn't see what it was. Too noisy to be deer. I had to pee so got up too, and I could see numerous eyes reflecting off my headlamp from the next campsite. Too many eyes to be a big cat or bears. Mountain goats. They came back through our camp an hour later and I had to throw rocks at them to get them to move away.


    Soon after the goats left the skies opened up and it rained steady til 10am. Got out of tents to see snow capped peaks above us and the sound of falling rock from a number of directions. Thought our tent pad would be ok but turned out to be a bit of a low spot so things were a little wet. Took a while to set things up to dry and since the weather seemed to be holding the ride was a go. Trying to drive out on wet slippery road wasn’t a good option at this point anyways….


    Trail connection right from camp to the Fairly Lake trail


    It is a stout climb right from camp with much HAB and not so much riding. But we sucked up a few short sections for the TR




    We got funny looks from the hikers as you do on these sort of rides. None seemed aware there was any trail up here aside from the one going to the peak.


    The wind picked up big time as we approached the saddle and made the decision for us to skip the peak, another 900ft gain over a mile or so with full exposure


    Adding some layers we pushed on south on the Bridger Foothills Trail


    Not a huge accumulation of snow but enough to make riding tricky by hiding loose rocks


    Soon we were back on clear ground


    As we got toward the first descent our tires started picking up mud. Should have known the trail up there would get a bit sticky when wet. It made for a few interesting moments and we had to walk down a couple slick sections, but mostly it was ok.


    406 staring down the Devil’s Crotch. Yeah the sidehill was pretty steep with narrow trail. Definitely didn’t want to fall


    Switchbacks were mostly fun. This is a moto trail and some were a bit torn up which made things interesting


    Great views


    The trail stays high up on the valley wall for what seems like ages and then traverses along through the trees


    More moto damage than I remembered made switchbacks hard but otherwise it was mostly rideable


    Last time here we continued south and dropped down the west side down Truman Gulch. In addition to making for a heinous shuttle I thought the trail south of Ross Pass was kinda “meh”. So I was stoked to see a newer trail on Trailforks from Ross Pass heading back toward Fairy Lake.


    Footage of the descent on Bridger Foothill Trail and Ross Pass Trail:

    It turned out that Ross Pass Tr was not just a useful connector but also a hell of a lot of fun, good flow and no sustained climbing. It took us over to the Fairy Lake 500 “trail” which was actually old doubletrack, but not terrible for a 3mi / 1000ft climb back up to Fairy Lake.


    First time seeing Fairy Lake and I was impressed. Pretty nice


    It was a bit cold for a swim but fortunately our stuff had dried out, so we packed up and headed out toward the next ride.


    406 found the only spot open for miles around in Two Dot MT. It was actually pretty good. Diviest dive bar I think I’ve ever been in. Would go there again.


    Stats - 15mi and +/- 3,600ft
  26. levity

    levity Member

    WOW! WOW! WOW!

    Stunningly beautiful scenery, great photography!
    Can't decide which to use for wallpaper!

    I'll need an full evening to sit back go back thru this...
  27. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 7 – Elkhorn Mountains – Helena

    Prior night we made the drive up to Big Snowy Mtns planning to do the Ice Caves ride. Roads had been a bit wet but we didn’t clue in that the trail might be too wet top ride. After getting up 406 realized that fact and since it was mostly cloudy the sun wouldn’t be much help to dry things out. Apparently the Ice Caves ride has some peanut butter dirt up top that wouldn’t we good to ride if wet. So we grudgingly changed plans and headed over to Helena.

    I didn’t know much about the Helena area except that the Elkhorns is another area threatened by closure to bikes, this time due to wildlife concerns. Apparently the USFS has thrown us a bone in that the management plan does include an option to allow bikes in the local WSA, but would ban them under all options from the Elkhorns due to wildlife concerns (yet they allow cattle grazing of course, go figure….)

    As we were about to start the ride 3 school buses came rolling down the road and stopped nearby, then 120 or so kids came hiking down the trail we were about to head up. So the trail user count was a bit skewed on this one. Since we saw zero people after that I’ll mark it zero.

    Climb started off easy through thick forest


    It soon opened up on Casey Meadows Trail and we got first views of today’s objective Casey Peak


    The climb up was steady and had enough rock to keep things interesting


    Did see a few trail users actually, all bovines


    Once on the Teepee Creek Trail things got delightfully rocky


    Lots of it was rideable with a few short pushes. But once we got onto the Casey Peak trail it was mostly HAB


    406 does a short ride for the TR


    Getting serious


    Trail was pretty nice with almost no downed trees to this point


    We started getting more of those up top in an old burn area but most had been cut out.


    It got a bit hard to follow towards the top. There were some cairns which helped as the tread was rocky and faint, and braided around some downed trees.


    Got distracted by wild raspberries that were next to the trail too


    Almost there. Lost the trail through this rock field and just pushed cross country


    Views up top were great



    Pano shot looking north and NE


    Dropping in. What a fun descent. A bit of painful climbing as we continued west on Teepee Creek Trail then it was all downhill. Fun chunky riding up top and fast buff singletrack lower down.


    Video sampler of the descent:

    Headed south after the ride with a pit stop in Butte for 50cent Rainiers


    Stats - ~12miles and +/- 3,600ft
  28. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 8 – CDT Bannock Pass

    The original plan had been to head back to SLC Friday night and do a ride there which would leave plenty of time to drop 406 at the airport Saturday night. But we decided to get one more MT ride in instead since it’s harder to get up there and SLC is an easy trip. We had everything timed out with a one-hour cushion in case anything went wrong (like me being slow). But were a little late getting started at first light.

    I need to get up for sunrise more often


    Looking back down to Bannock Pass


    The singletrack was pretty nice grade most of the way


    Fence more or less divides ID from MT


    Crossing to the other side now


    Eventually we emerge from the trees and traverse some open hillsides


    Views open up to the west


    The ride was basically two main climbs separated by one descent. We wouldn’t make it all the way to Goat Mtn which was another descent and climb away, but where we stopped had good views and was a logical turn around. Trail that continued on was enticing though….


    Interesting wood, reminds me of the ancient bristlecone forest on White Mtn here in Socal


    Riding back went pretty quick. 406 powered on ahead since he had to disassemble the bike


    A bit from the ride out and some from the ride back -
    More from the ride back -


    He was half done when I rolled in. My only job was to down the post-ride beer


    A hunter pulled up and handed us each a bud, hoping for good karma in his hunt. Who are we to say no, but we at least waited til we were on the Idaho side to drink it.


    Since we made good time we had time for a swim and found a good swimming hole down in the valley below. Cold water but not the worst for the trip


    Getting a swim in was nice but also had time for side trip to REI and quick dinner before heading to the airport. After dropping 406 off I headed to a car wash to clean out the van and get more or less packed up myself.

    Stats for the day I think were around 20mi and +/- 2,000ft
  29. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Crescenta Valley
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    OMG, that is the trip of a lifetime, and...and, MOUNTAIN GOATS!!!! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    mountaingirl sara likes this.
  30. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 9 – Perry Canyon to Grizzly Peak to Northern Skyline via Ben Lomond

    I did this ride during a big 2012 road trip and it has stuck out in my mind to this day as one of my favorite rides. I’ve tried to include it in a few other trips but it hasn’t worked out. That first trip was extra memorable because I used public transit to close the loop then rode into goat head hell and had two flat tires within minutes of entering the trail system. I had to limp a few miles into town on partially flat tires to the nearest bike shop to with tubes and sealant. Got back on the trail around noon and finished the ride right at dark.

    No issues with goat heads this time, but buses didn’t seem to be running on Sunday so I had a long pavement pedal to get to Perry Canyon. Rather than do the whole 15mi pavement pedal I went for a bit of extra credit singletrack on Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Though nicer riding it would add extra time and 1000ft extra climbing to the route.

    The peak in the distance is Ben Lomond where I’ll top out, though I will be approaching from the opposite direction


    BST is a pretty nice trail through here, contoured and well graded. I skipped a harder 5-mile section that would have added 1,200ft more climbing, which left me with around 10mi of easy pavement


    Got started just before sunrise so I caught the first rays coming over the mountains


    Classic trail sign at the bottom of Perry Canyon Trail. Yeah, 9 miles and 4,500ft to Grizzly Peak. Off we go!


    Goat heads weren’t stopping me today. Only pulled one out of the tire. Maybe more traffic keeps them clear now?


    Rather than take Perry Canyon on the way up I saw a trail called White Rock on Trailforks that looked interesting, rated less difficult so I figured it might be easier if not too overgrown.


    It was pretty nice at first, traversing across open sage scrub hillsides. Definitely more raw than Perry Canyon but was in pretty good shape


    Higher up it got tougher. Parts were overgrown, it got hard to follow through a basin, and switchbacks above were torn up some by motos. But mostly it was pretty nice.


    Nearing the top the grade mellowed out again and the trail was nice. Decent amounts of shade were found and there was a nice breeze to keep things cool.


    Back on Perry Canyon Trail things got tough. North aspects had soft dirt that were often chewed up by motos who seemed to have a hard time staying on the singletrack bench. Overgrowth didn’t help and no doubt tugged at their handlebars. Once higher up the views really opened up especially toward Willard Basin


    Beyond Grizzly Peak was a couple miles of narrow jeep road and regular forest road. There were plenty of side by sides tearing ass all over the place. Found a spring to fill up on cold water at, which was nice.


    Wasatch Crest Trail, here??? Last time I took the dirt road around all the way which led to some miserable extra credit climbing. This time I climbed up a moto trail through the upper basin which was much nicer. There was a side trail that appeared to be non-motorized and was pretty nice.


    View from that side trail was pretty awesome, after climbing above the lake


    Continuing on I traversed around Willard Peak which brought great views down to the valley below


    Pano view


    And the other way


    Trail traversing south. Such an awesome section of trail


    Getting to the top of Ben Lomond summit, looking north from where I came


    Summit shot


    It was at this point I re-checked my mental math on timing. It was now 5:30 and my flight was at 10, with an hour to disassemble bike plus pack and a 45min drive to the airport. This left an hour and a bit to descend to the van. Should be ok? We’ll see…

    Ben Lomond part 1 -
    Ben Lomond summit to N Skyline -
    Northern Skyline part 1 -
    Northern Skyline part 2 -

    Turned out the descent took right on an hour. Had to settle for a bird bath at the trailhead using remaining water jugs and some snacks at the airport. Skipping a dinner stop and swim I got to the car rental 90min before flight which was pretty much perfect. But well worth it to get this ride in. Most switchbacks on the trail were completely moto-farked it was still a great descent and a definite happy ending not just for the ride but for the whole trip. I was stoked to get in so many great rides in one trip.

    Stats for the day - 45mi and +/-7,000ft

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