First Spring Rides

Breaking open the mountain trails

April 2019 Travel, Feature Steve Janes Web Exclusive

            We are all anxious to get out on mountain trails during the spring. But even though the grass is starting to green up in the valleys, it usually takes a little longer for winter to relinquish its hold on the mountains.

            Although some of the trails in the higher elevations likely won’t be accessible until June or later, there are some trails where the sun will beat down the snow a little faster—mainly in the high mountain desert terrain that doesn’t have a lot of trees.

            We took a ride up to Pahsimeroi Valley in eastern Idaho on April 19 to see if the snow was gone. And it was … mostly. We still had a few drifts to beat (which make for a little more excitement on the ride).

            The thing to remember is that you don’t want to put yourself into a situation where you end up stuck and have to walk out. Also, you don’t necessarily want to cause more trenching or trail damage due to spinning tires. So you need to pick your battles, assess the impact on both terrain and vehicle, and remember that you can always come back later if the snow is too deep.

            We found one trail (Long Lost Creek) where the snow drifts just made riding one big fight. We decided to leave that one alone for now and give Mother Nature a couple more weeks to break down the drifts.

            The beauty of spring riding is that usually there are few other people on the trail so you can enjoy the country without contending with other groups.

            We parked just off the Little Lost River Highway at the head of the Pass Creek Road, about 30 miles north of Howe, ID. From there we took the Pass Creek Road about six miles and turned right on the Dry Creek Road.

            There are plenty of roads heading in practically all directions in this country … and the signage isn’t very good. However, if you know your directions, it’s hard to get lost. Most roads either come to a dead end (due to the terrain), or loop back out to a main road. And you can figure out which is which pretty fast by the nature of the road.

            Since the Dry Creek Reservoir and the Long Lost Creek Trail is just a mile or so past the Burnt Creek turnoff to the Pahsimeroi Valley, we took a quick side trip to see if the snow was still lingering. It was at 7,500 feet elevation. So we backtracked to the Burnt Creek road and worked our way into the Pahsimeroi.

            Other than a small stretch of road that summits over 7,700 feet, the trail was mostly clear. We worked our way through this patch of snow and descended into the Pahsimeroi Valley.

            We were able to drive up to the East Fork of the Pahsimeroi (about 7,800 feet) before the snow started to become a little too obnoxious. We were about 35 miles from where we parked our trailers (way too far in to want to walk out), so we figured that was enough for a good first ride and doubled back to the trailers.

            In all, it was a great spring ride.

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