Friday, April 27, 2012

Six new OHV rides to explore in Idaho

The distribution of 39 OHV rides in Idaho ... 
Hi all,

The Idaho Off-Highway Vehicle Public Outreach Campaign has been updating the StayonTrails web site with some new rides, and we're happy to report that we've got six new rides to share for the 2012 riding season, with several more to come.

On our Where-to-Ride page, we now have 39 rides total. 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 some 18,000 miles of trails in Idaho statewide.

We've added three new rides in Southeast Idaho near Montpelier, courtesy of recommendations by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and three new rides near Salmon, Idaho, thanks to recommendations by the Bureau of Land Management and local OHV riders.

One of the 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 the AgaiDika Shoshone. 
Where the dirt roads meet at the saddle above is 7,373-foot Lemhi Pass. 
The ride takes OHV riders to Lemhi Pass 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. The Shoshone told them that they couldn't safely travel to the Pacific via the Salmon River because it was too rocky, it had too many rapids, and they'd certainly drown trying to get through. Instead, they recommended going to the Pacific via the Nez Perce buffalo trail and Lolo Pass, which turned out to be a grueling route through dense timber with very little game. I'm sure many of you know the story. 

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.
Trailhead at Discovery Hill. Photo courtesy BLM
Discovery Hill is a cool riding area just a few minutes from downtown Salmon. We featured a 20-mile tour of the Discovery Hill area in the detailed ride, and once you've done that ride, you can explore many other trails in the vicinity. The trails in the Discovery Hill area are old dirt roads, so they're suitable for any OHV use.  The base of the Discovery Hill area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, also contains the Sacajawea Motor Sports Park, where people can practice hill-climbing and test their skills.

Freeman Peak lords over the Freeman Creek Trail.
The Freeman Creek Trail is the third ride featured in Salmon. It's a challenging and rocky ride that goes by several old mines to nearly the top of the Beaverhead Mountains on the Idaho-Montana border. There are several high mountain lakes on the Montana side where an ambitious person could hike over to catch some fresh trout.

Moving on to the trails in SE Idaho, we feature two rides in the Mecham Hollow area, north of Montpelier. There is an 8-mile intermediate loop that provides an introduction to the area, and a 25-mile loop, called the Mecham Hollow-Sherman Peak Loop, which is more advanced. Both rides are open to motorbikes and ATVs.

Local Ranger Dennis Deurhen shared a nifty 22-mile ride we 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.
Paris Ice Caves
Paris Ice Caves 
Hope you can carve out some time this summer to explore these rides or others on our site.

Have fun!

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