Thursday, June 30, 2011

OHV riders urged to head for low- to mid-elevation trails for the 4th of July weekend

Deep snow is keeping many high-elevation roads and trails inaccessible.

June 30, 2011

Contact: Steve Stuebner, Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign, 208-484-0295

Before heading out to go trail-riding and camping for the 4th of July weekend, national forest officials recommend that Idahoans call first to check on the status of their favorite trails, particularly if they are located in high-mountain elevations.

"Know before you go," forest officials said. Check for the latest trail and road conditions on national forest web sites, and call ranger districts for site-specific information. The Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign's web site has contact information for all of the national forest, BLM, and state park offices statewide.

As a general rule, lower-elevation and mid-elevation trails will be the best bet for OHV recreation over the 4th of July weekend until warm temperatures melt the remaining snow in the high country throughout Idaho, forest officials said. OHV users are encouraged to refrain from using wet, muddy and snowy trails to prevent long-term damage.

Although work crews continue to make progress clearing trails and roads, shady areas and high elevations still may have several feet of snow, making vehicle travel on some roadways tricky, national forest officials said. Vehicles can break through snow’s crust and leave travelers "stuck." Cell phone coverage may not be available to contact emergency responders, so it’s best to avoid the temptation to plow on through in snowy areas. It could get worse the farther you go.

As of June 28, snow levels ranged from 5,500-foot elevation in the Nez Perce, Clearwater and Panhandle national forest areas, to 6,500-foot and 7,000-foot elevation in much of Central and Southern Idaho. South slopes are open up to 8,500 feet, such as at 8,701-foot Galena Summit, north of Ketchum. North-facing slopes and shady areas will have dramatically more snow than south slopes.

Bureau of Land Management lands are typically free of snow below 7,000-foot elevation, officials said. BLM officials did not report any restrictions for the 4th of July.

Most of the OHV trails around Bayhorse in the Land of the Yankee Fork near Challis are open, including the Lombard Trail from Challis to Bayhorse. The Bayhorse Lakes are inaccessible now due to the road washing out, the Custer Motorway is still blocked by snow, and high passes are still snowed in.

"It's tough when you are above 8,500 feet and in the shade," said Dan Smith, manager of the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park in Challis. "We’re telling folks to come ride, but be ready to back-track if you hit a big snowdrift."

Statewide, some popular national forest roads that are still closed because of snow include:

  • Forest Road #486, the Magruder Road Corridor between Elk City and Darby, Mont.
  • Forest Road #222 from Dixie Guard Station to Mackay Bar on the Salmon River.
  • Forest Road #500, the Lolo Motorway along the Lewis & Clark Trail on the north side of the Lochsa River.
  • The road over Hoodoo Pass into Montana.
  • Elk Summit Road near Powell Junction.
  • Lick Creek Road near McCall.
  • Scott Mountain Road to Deadwood Reservoir.
  • The 4th of July Road in the White Cloud Mountains is partially open to 3.5 miles past Champion Creek.

Popular roads and trails that are open include:

  • South Fork Salmon River Road. Note: Chinook salmon season is now open.
  • Warren Wagon Road to Burgdorf Hot Springs and Warren.
  • Mud Flat Road, the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway, in Owyhee County.
  • Forest Road #446 to the top of Snowbank Mountain near Cascade is open.
  • The Railroad Right of Way ATV trail from Warm River to West Yellowstone is open.
  • The Kirkham Ridge Trail near Lowman is open, but users should expect to encounter snow on north-facing slopes above 6,000 feet.
  • Trails in the Minidoka district of the Sawtooth National Forest (South Hills, south of Twin Falls).
  • China Peak near Pocatello.
  • Palisades Ranger District trails near Kelly Canyon Ski Area.
  • Forest Road #156 from Featherville to Rocky Bar, Phifer Creek to Atlanta.

Check out the http://www.stayontrails.comweb site and click on where to ride for other ideas on where to ride over the 4th of July weekend.

Here are links to the latest press releases and road information from Idaho's national forests: