Idaho is blessed with 18,000 miles of super-cool mountain trails located on 20 million acres of national forest lands, 12 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and more than 1 million acres of state land.
So if you’re planning a vacation to Idaho, and you’d like to try out some of Idaho’s trails, how do you get started? How do you find out where to go?
People who like to ride off-highway vehicles (OHV), or motorbikes, ATVs and the new two-person Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) now have two awesome web sites to refer to find information on where to ride in Idaho.
One of the sites, www.stayontrails.com, now has more than 40 rides statewide for folks to explore, including six rides that have been added this spring near Salmon, Idaho, and Montpelier, Idaho. These rides are found on the Where-to-Ride page. Each ride has a detailed written description with directions to the trailhead, and a trip map.
These rides complement the new Idaho OHV online trails map, which provides online access to 18,000 miles of trails in Idaho statewide.
With a few clicks, users can zoom into areas of Idaho where they want to find OHV trails, determine what types of motorized uses are allowed, season of use, get driving directions to the trailhead and more. People can export the trails to Google Earth or to their GPS devices for quick reference when they’re out riding the trails, and they can share trail maps with their friends. The online trail map also provides information on hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails trails statewide. These trails are shown in red.
“It’s really a useful tool for motorcyclists and recreationists,” says Mark Weaver of Kuna, president of Treasure Valley Trail Machine Association. “And it shows how proactive IDPR is in providing the tools for people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and legally.”
One of the new OHV rides in Salmon provides a 39-mile tour of the Lewis & Clark Backcountry Byway.
This one is a dandy for history buffs. The single-lane dirt road surface is suitable for motorbikes, ATVs, UTVs and regular trucks and cars. The ride starts and finishes in the beautiful Lemhi Valley, where Sacajawea was born as a member of the Lemhi band of the Shoshone Indians, or theAgaiDika Shoshone.
The ride takes you to the top of Lemhi Pass (elevation 7,373 feet) atop the Continental Divide, where you can easily imagine how things may have looked to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, when they peered over the west side of the divide for the first time and saw lots of big mountains and no clear path to the Pacific Ocean. This was in 1805.
The late author Stephen Ambrose, who penned the excellent book Undaunted Courage, wrote that Lemhi Pass was his favorite spot along the Lewis and Clark Trail. He camped there with his family on July 4, 1976. “It was the most glorious night of our lives,” he wrote. “You could reach out and touch the stars. Except for a logging road, the place was unchanged since Lewis was there.”
You can camp there, too! If you come to Salmon, you also need to visit the Sacajawea Center,
a museum and outdoor park near Salmon. Here’s a link to the BLM brochure about the backcountry byway. Oh, and by the way, there’s a hot springs nearby that you can visit before or after the ride.
In SE Idaho, our favorite new ride was shared by District Ranger Dennis Deurhen.
It’s a 22-mile ride called the Paris Canyon-Highline Trail Loop. On this ride, you can visit the Paris Ice Caves, and do a brief side hike to Bloomington Lake for fishing or a quick dip on a hot summer day, and finish the loop. Here’s the trip map.
For more detailed information about the new OHV rides on stayontrails.com, here’s a link.
Hope you can carve out some time this summer to explore Idaho’s trails. As one who’s been exploring our state’s trails my whole adult life, I can assure you that you’ll have a great time, and yearn to come back for more.
Steve Stuebner, OHV Public Outreach Campaign.