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Idaho Backcountry Adventure Ride

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Idaho has been on my must-ride list as a place to explore for years. With over 1200 miles of mostly unpaved backcountry roads and trails that run through the most scenic parts of Idaho backcountry, the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (IDBDR) seemed like a good place to start. A few buddies and I downloaded the IDBDR GPS tracks, busted out the ole paper map and came up with a plan to camp and ride through the backcountry parts of Idaho for 4 days.

The Plan

Idaho Backcountry Discovery RouteOur plan was to trailer the bikes from Henderson, NV up to either Jackpot, NV or Twin Falls, ID and grab a room somewhere for the night. We would then wake up, ditch the truck and trailer somewhere and begin our adventure on the IDBDR around Glenn’s Ferry or Mountain Home. We had 4 days to make the most out of Idaho. We planned to ride as far north as we could get after the first two days, then it would be time to turn around and figure out an interesting route back down south to our starting point. We all agreed there would be no hotels or lodging unless absolutely necessary. This was a moto-camping trip all the way.

 

The Riders

Trip Report

Idaho-bound!

Our adventure began as we left Henderson and started our trek north up to Idaho through the very long state of Nevada.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Once we passed Ely, NV the sun went down.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Our original plan was to stop in Jackpot, NV and stay the night at Cactus Pete’s Hotel. We would then leave the truck there and continue north for 4 days on our bikes. However, our plan changed since we got an early start so we decided to truck it further north into Twin Falls and grab a room there for the night. Everyone was ok with this since highway through flat farm country didn’t sound very exciting. It also gave us more time in the backcountry of Idaho…in the dirt!

We pulled into Twin Falls around 12:30/ 1 AM. After touring the quiet town for about an hour, we found out every single hotel was booked. Seriously? A Wednesday night in Twin Falls, ID? Strange. Brian mentioned there must have been a ping pong convention in town or something.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Bliss, ID

After we left Twin Falls, we got on the I-84 via the largest on-ramp we’d ever seen. We continued further northeast towards Glenn’s Ferry, our original BDR plan. There were no hotels anywhere. Cruising barren Idaho farm land at 2AM looking for place to stay wasn’t looking very promising. After 10.5 hours of driving, we were all tired, ready to pull over and sleep anywhere we could find. It really didn’t matter at that point. Finally we arrived at Bliss, ID rest stop and pulled up next to an idling tractor trailer, home sweet home for the night. Not very blissful, but it’ll do to catch a few Z’s. After all we had our camping gear.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

699 miles later, our long day was finally over. It was about 1:30 AM Nevada time ( 2:30 ID time). Time for bed!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Day 1: Mountain Home, ID to Deadwood Reservoir

Rise and shine! I pulled the earplugs from my ears as soon as the morning light woke me up. The sun was just barely poking up from the horizon, perfect timing to get an early jump on the day. We only got about 3 hours of sleep each, but that was good enough. We wanted to get this ride started.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Brian slept in the back seat of the pickup & I set up my sleeping bag in the bed of the truck. Steve toughed it out on the trailer between my 690 & Oprah (his GS1200).

Let the Adventure Begin!

After ditching the truck in Mountain Home, ID we unloaded and hit the road. There was only a short stretch of pavement before we were in the dirt. Our ride was finally underway!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We stopped at the first sight of water, the South Fork Boise River, which was down in a deep canyon.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, taken by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi
Anderson Dam

We approached the Anderson Dam and spillway. Constructed in 1950, Anderson Dam was the tallest dam of its type in the world. Its primary purpose was to provide irrigation water for agriculture with a secondary purpose of hydroelectric power.

Anderson Ranch Dam & Reservoir

 

Anderson Ranch Reservoir was a great view to start our ride.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We crossed over the dam.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

photo by Steve Pinch
photo by Steve Pinch

Then we followed the road north around the reservoir.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

The water was very still allowing for some perfect reflections.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Leaving Anderson Ranch Reservoir, we continued north.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We arrived at Sloan Gulch Rd.

Pine, ID

We stopped in Pine to check out the school and playground. One of our new goals for adventure rides is to incorporate as many playgrounds as possible. That may sound ridiculous, but we got a good laugh from it.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Steve and Brian had some fun on the teeter totter.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

The town has a gas station, cafe and general store. We didn’t need any supplies, so we continued straight through downtown Pine.

The people of Pine, ID have great taste in their yard art!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We stopped at one of the first creeks we noticed along the side of the road. Coming from the dry desert, water was a nice change of scenery.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Onward to Trinity Lakes! Luckily we timed this trip just right. The gate to Trinity Lakes is closed up until July 15th according to the Forest Service website.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, taken by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Trinity Lakes

Trinity Lakes were gorgeous. The elevation here is about 8000′ so it is very lush!

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

You’ve always gotta stop to smell the flowers.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We took a side route up to Trinity Lookout. At first it looked closed, but I learned that in Idaho you have to read the fine print! Good thing I did. “Road Closed to Motorized Vehicles…ATVs and Motorcycles Excepted”. Braaaaap I went up the long, rugged trail to the top. I wasn’t sure if the other guys were joining me but I had to check it out.

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi
Trinity Lookout: elevation 9500′

 

I got to the top a snapped a couple pics.

The view was great up there.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

I decided to quickly get back down just in case Steve & Brian were waiting for me. Well, not 2 minutes later here they come up the road at the last switchback. Awesome!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We spotted a forest fire in the distance that had just recently started. I guess that’s why they call this Trinity Lookout. It’s used to spot and report forest fires. The fire in the distance was the Pioneer Fire (just west of the highway 21). It looked pretty serious.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

You could see the Trinity Lakes from the top of the lookout.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We took some selfies at the top for Brice who planned on doing this ride with us, but unfortunately had to bail at the last minute because of work commitments.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Brian did a good job of not falling off the mountain.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

There were a few people up at the lookout, probably volunteers, radioing the fire in.

Back down the mountain we went.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

At the bottom, we stopped and chatted with some other ADV riders who were also riding the IDBDR. They came all the way from Virginia! Nice guys.

Trinity Lookout Video
Middle Fork Boise River

We crossed the Middle Fork Boise River and decided it was time to cool off.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

I found a great “head cooling station”.

Trinity Lookout, photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Steve had to give it a try as well.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Brian was ok with the simple splash method.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

After a nice, refreshing cool down we were back on the bikes. Pretty much from this point forward every single trail or road had a creek, stream or river running next to it. Idaho is awesome!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We crossed the famous 50″ wide Barber Flat Bridge. It’s closed to vehicles due to public safety concerns caused by aging of the bridge.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Steve’s GS, “Oprah”, has big hips but she squeezed through. Brian’s DR was a little slimmer and had no problems.

We passed an old, abandoned cabin. I always wonder the history of these little places.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We were getting close to the fire. We could smell it in the air.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

At 160 miles into the ride, I was pushing my limits for fuel range so I decided to stop and dump my spare fuel in. I didn’t want to heat my fuel pump up from running my tank dry.

photo by Steve Pinch
photo by Steve Pinch

We zig-zagged through this canyon, full of switchback roads.

Approaching Lowman we dropped elevation quickly.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We crossed over Archie Creek.Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Lowman

We stopped in Lowman for fuel and lunch. Good food, friendly service and they even let me buy a few to-go beers for camp that night.

We headed towards Deadwood Reservoir, but we were looking for a specific, quicker route rather than the original IDBDR track on our GPS. We knew it was nearby, but it took a little while to find it. This is the “we don’t know where it is, but we’re not lost” photo.

photo by Steve Pinch
photo by Steve Pinch

The forest fire smoke so thick it was blocking out the sun. It made for a cool, orange glow though.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We finally found our route and headed towards Deadwood Reservoir to scope out a camp for the night. We were happy the smoke was behind us now.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Deadwood Reservoir

We arrived at Deadwood Dam.

photo by Steve Pinch
photo by Steve Pinch

As we crossed the Deadwood River below the dam, we could feel a rush of cool air through the valley. When we got up near the dam, we quickly realized why. Wow! The dam was releasing a ton of water. It was very intense being that close. You could even feel vibrations in the ground from the rushing water. Man, if that dam broke we’d be screwed right about now!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We stopped to check out the Deadwood Reservoir airstrip. I would like to see a plane land here.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We found an awesome camp spot right near the water, complete with plenty of wood and a built up fire ring.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

I got my Kelty Grand Mesa 2 tent all set up. I just bought it and this was my first trip using it. I loved it! It set up very easily and packed super light. It’s a small “2 man tent”, but it’s perfect for one person and a couple things inside.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

After setting up camp, it was time to de-funk! The water was cold, but it felt great to finally wash up. Steve had some fancy REI peppermint soap that he was proud of.Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Time for some Crown! I was all washed up and ready to relax after a long day and only a few hours of sleep the night before.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

The one thing I regret not buying for this trip was a nice collapsible mug or cup. The plastic cup/ bowl from my Jetboil worked, but it felt like I was drinking out of a WD40 cap.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Steve’s ENO hammock looked relaxing. I must buy one of these for future adventures.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, taken by Steve Pinch

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, taken by Steve Pinch

He had to show me how it was a 2 person hammock. I don’t think it was a 2 MAN hammock, but Brian helped him demonstrate. hahaa

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Then Brian had to get the true experience on his own.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, taken by Steve Pinch

The sun went down and the fire felt amazing as the temperature quickly dropped. The elevation at Deadwood Reservoir is about 5300′ so the overnight temperature was probably in the low 40’s.

photo by Brian Hayashi
photo by Brian Hayashi

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Steve showed off his fancy hammock LEDs. As if a hammock wasn’t enough, this guy had LEDs!

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

We checked out the map and scoped out the day ahead of us.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Tons of stars came out as it got darker even though it was a fairly full moon that night. I used my GoPro 4 Silver on night mode to capture some of the night’s sky.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Then I did a little light painting with my GoPro and my phone flashlight.

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

It was time to call it a night. I slept like a baby!

Day 1 Video
Day 1 Track Overview

Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

Interactive Map and GPX file download of Day 1

Download this track

Right-click HERE and [save link as] to your computer.

This will save the GPX file rather than a text file. 

Comments

comments

3 Responses

  1. Deven
    | Reply

    I want a GPS lesson.. Lol one thing I’ve never been good at. What GPS were you using?

    Been looking to build an XR to do some adventure riding. Where is next years trip?

    • Pete
      | Reply

      I was using a Garmin 62S. It’s very rugged and easy to follow a track. The most time consuming part is putting together a track from scratch. It’s not hard to do, but it takes a little time especially if you’re planning on going somewhere you have never been to. I’m actually going to be putting together an informative guide on how to build a GPS track and plan a trip like this using Google Earth, Google Maps, Garmin Basecamp, and other easy to use software.

      Next trip…good question! It’s been on my mind as soon as we were driving home. I’ve already been thinking alot about that. I’d love to get up into Oregon and Washington, but I feel there are more parts of Colorado that I want to explore first. Sign up for the newsletter on the homepage and you’ll be notified when I post up new stuff.

  2. Hail Dentboy
    | Reply

    Wow what a great write up… Looks like an amazing trip. Makes me want to get a bike..Absolutely beautiful scenery. Awesome job documenting everything.

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