Thursday, October 4, 2018

Warm River Rails to Trails Bike Ride


Railroad Right-of-Way Trail
Ashton Idaho



Locals (Ashton Idaho) call it the Warm River Trail due to the fact that it follows the Warm River for the first 7 miles.  In the Ashton the trail head in located in the Warm River Campground located off Scenic Hwy 47 about 10 miles north of Ashton.
The Railroad Right-of-Way Trail winds through the pristine wilderness of Idaho's Targhee National Forest. The sprawling forest is a unit of the even larger Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which borders famous Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Built on a former railroad corridor that once provided tourist access from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to West Yellowstone, Montana, the trail parallels Warm River for a few miles from its south trailhead at Warm Springs Campground. About 3 miles north of the campground, a short tunnel—original to the railroad—leads through a steep piece of terrain. Unfortunately, the tunnel suffered a cave-in in 2008, so access is prohibited. The trail has been rerouted just to the east, providing closer views of the Warm River.
The overall trail length is 34 miles that runs from Ashton to the Montana State line near West Yellowstone Idaho.  The trail surface is gravel/ballast.  Parts of this trail is open to ATV traffic. 
My ride was the first 7 miles starting at the Warm River Campground.  I rode out 7 miles and returned for a total of 14 miles.  I did not encounter any other people on the trial I had it to myself…except the moose and bear I saw along the way. 
Being new to the Gravel Bike Riding and Rails to Trails my description of the trail my not be completely accurate or even a fair description.  That said I will give my best description and condition of the trail….The trail for the most part was pretty well packed gravel/ballast with a few larger rocks thrown in to keep you alert and focused on the trail.  There were a few small pot holes but they were few and far between.  Several area did have some loose gravel that required a little more attention to the path of the bike.  The section of trial I rode was dry and it made an enjoyable ride.  Even if it had been raining and the trail had been wet it would have been no real challenge to ride.  In the 7 miles out I had an elevation gain of just over 600 feet.  The 600 feet in 7 miles was a very gradual incline that was hardly noticed on the incline but made the return to the tail head a pretty much downhill coast very little peddling on the return.
The scenery along the trail in the fall was breath taking.  Riding this trail in early fall was one of the best bike rides I had made.  The leaves were in full color and the weather was near perfect.  The ride along the river was at an elevation above the river to give spectacular views of the river and surrounding landscape.  I stopped often along the ride to take in the views and was fortunate enough to have seen a moose feeding along the bank on the opposite side of the river on the way out.  On the return trip I also spotted a bear on the opposite side of the river in the edge of the woods.  The one question I asked myself was if the bear is on the other side are bears on this side that I did not see…
I pointed out earlier that I have just started with the gravel bike riding switching from the road bike.  I enjoyed my time on the road but it was more about distance and average speed and hill climbing.  With my gravel bike riding I am still focusing on distance and hill climbing with average speed not having the same value for me.  I enjoyed the scenery when riding on the road/paved trails but with the gravel bike I have found that I am riding in areas that have more and different views with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views.  The next step in my gravel riding is bring along my camera and take some better pictures.  In the past I have only used my cell phone for ride pictures and in the future I plan to take a better camera and get more and better photos of the trails.  
Locals (Ashton Idaho) call it the Warm River Trail due to the fact that it follows the Warm River for the first 7 miles.  In the Ashton the trail head in located in the Warm River Campground located off Scenic Hwy 47 about 10 miles north of Ashton.
The Railroad Right-of-Way Trail winds through the pristine wilderness of Idaho's Targhee National Forest. The sprawling forest is a unit of the even larger Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which borders famous Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Built on a former railroad corridor that once provided tourist access from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to West Yellowstone, Montana, the trail parallels Warm River for a few miles from its south trailhead at Warm Springs Campground. About 3 miles north of the campground, a short tunnel—original to the railroad—leads through a steep piece of terrain. Unfortunately, the tunnel suffered a cave-in in 2008, so access is prohibited. The trail has been rerouted just to the east, providing closer views of the Warm River.
The overall trail length is 34 miles that runs from Ashton to the Montana State line near West Yellowstone Idaho.  The trail surface is gravel/ballast.  Parts of this trail is open to ATV traffic. 
My ride was the first 7 miles starting at the Warm River Campground.  I rode out 7 miles and returned for a total of 14 miles.  I did not encounter any other people on the trial I had it to myself…except the moose and bear I saw along the way. 
Being new to the Gravel Bike Riding and Rails to Trails my description of the trail my not be completely accurate or even a fair description.  That said I will give my best description and condition of the trail….The trail for the most part was pretty well packed gravel/ballast with a few larger rocks thrown in to keep you alert and focused on the trail.  There were a few small pot holes but they were few and far between.  Several area did have some loose gravel that required a little more attention to the path of the bike.  The section of trial I rode was dry and it made an enjoyable ride.  Even if it had been raining and the trail had been wet it would have been no real challenge to ride.  In the 7 miles out I had an elevation gain of just over 600 feet.  The 600 feet in 7 miles was a very gradual incline that was hardly noticed on the incline but made the return to the tail head a pretty much downhill coast very little peddling on the return.
The scenery along the trail in the fall was breath taking.  Riding this trail in early fall was one of the best bike rides I had made.  The leaves were in full color and the weather was near perfect.  The ride along the river was at an elevation above the river to give spectacular views of the river and surrounding landscape.  I stopped often along the ride to take in the views and was fortunate enough to have seen a moose feeding along the bank on the opposite side of the river on the way out.  On the return trip I also spotted a bear on the opposite side of the river in the edge of the woods.  The one question I asked myself was if the bear is on the other side are bears on this side that I did not see…
I pointed out earlier that I have just started with the gravel bike riding switching from the road bike.  I enjoyed my time on the road but it was more about distance and average speed and hill climbing.  With my gravel bike riding I am still focusing on distance and hill climbing with average speed not having the same value for me.  I enjoyed the scenery when riding on the road/paved trails but with the gravel bike I have found that I am riding in areas that have more and different views with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views.  The next step in my gravel riding is bring along my camera and take some better pictures.  In the past I have only used my cell phone for ride pictures and in the future I plan to take a better camera and get more and better photos of the trails.  




















Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Ashton-Tetonia Rails to Trails

Ashton-Tetonia Rails to Trails located between Ashton, Idaho and Tetonia, Idaho for a total distance of a little over 29 miles.

            Rode out and back on the Ashton-Tetonia Rails to Trail for a total of 22 miles on my new Diverge gravel bike.  This was my first real use of the Diverge as a gravel bike and it performed better than I had expected.  The bike not only has a carbon frame and seat post to increase the comfort level it has the Specialized Future Shock in the front fork that smooths out the rough and bumpy trails.  At the end of the ride I felt like  I had been riding on paved roads with my Specialized Allez road bike.  The Diverge is a bike to have if you are going to ride Rails to Trails mixed with highway miles.

I started out in the Ashton area on Hwy 47 near Marysville, there is a small parking area designated as a State Park right on Hwy 47.  The weather was perfect for riding, I started out about 9:30 clear skies about 50 degrees about 2 hours later on return it was 60ish partly cloudy.  I had over dressed and had to stop and remove a layer of clothing but that is why you layer.  I have starting carrying a small day pack to make layering possible and bring along a few nice to have items.  With the small day pack I carry extra water some snacks a bike lock and my Garmin InReach along with a few other nice to have items. 

The trail was in good condition for what it is, an old rail line that has had the rails and cross ties removed and covered with gravel.  It is basically a single track road on the old rail line.  There were different sections of the trail some with small well packed gravel and some with larger gravel/rocks mixed in.  The trail wandered off across what appears to be wheat fields in the rolling terrain with views of the Teton Mountains making some breath taking views in the early fall.  Within the first couple of miles you cross a trestle over the Fall River then another couple of miles you get to cross a second trestle over the Conant Creek.  I passed several working farms along with old abandoned buildings some close to the trail and other in the distance.  

One area of the trail between the town of Drummond and France there is some dispute with the ownership of the right of way and the trail takes a detour between two fields that takes you out to a gravel road that connects back with the trail.  In the trail description it sounds pretty simple and straight forward…but the section between the two fields is tricky at best.  The single track between the two field is a farm road covered in very fine sandy soil in the dry season that I rode the road not only was challenging to ride in the sand but there is several steep grades to maneuver.  I do believe that if it had rained the sand would have turned to mud.  I turned around after maneuvering through the detour and back to the trial this was 11 miles from my starting point.  

The ride out I did not notice any grade in the road but when I turned around and started back to Ashton it was all a slight downhill grade making the return much easier than the trip out had been.  I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy the view on the return.  The trail runs from Ashton to Tetonia for a distance of a little over 29 miles maybe next time I will ride the complete trail…or not.


Fall River

Fall River

Along the Trail

Conant Creek

Detour route between two fields. 

Along the Trail

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Leigh Lake the Hike


The trail takes you to the second largest high elevation lake in Montana.  The trail is 1.6 miles one way with about 1200 feet elevation gain.  The trail starts with a steady incline and a well-marked trail.  As the trail continues it gets narrower and has had less maintenance.  The last half mile gets to be a challenge to follow the trail with several area requiring some hands on to get up the rocky slopes.

I met my hiking partners Jackie and Mike 7am and we loaded up and headed to the trial head.  Mike and Jackie has a home in AZ and spent a large part of the year traveling.  When I was camp hosting in Moab UT this spring we met and have stayed in contact.  When temperature started hitting 100+ degrees in AZ they decided they were headed north and I was blessed when they picked Libby MT.  My life style brings me new friends all the time but it is always nice to meet back up with an old friend.

The road to trail head was in good condition and the trail was in okay shape.  Weather was perfect for the hike (58 clear starting and ending 75ish clear) we started out at 7am and arrived at the trail head a little before 8am.  The first turn a Forest Service (FS) road off US-2 was marked and easy to find as well as the next turn.  The instruction stated that FS867 was to change to FS1478 but it did not say turn and there were no signage???  We had our MVUM (FS Motor Vehicle Use Map) and it showed that it we needed to make a turn.  The ride thru the FS roads was nice there are a few residences in the beginning with most of the trip was along a mountain stream through the forest with some great views of the mountains that still had some snow at the upper elevations.  As we rounded one curve it looked like a large shaggy dog was running down the road ahead of us…a rusty brown.  We then realized we had a bear in the road but he/she was not interested in stopping for a photo shoot.  Never did get a side view to positively id the type of bear and the road was too hard packed to check for possible prints…so we called it a Grizzly probably 800-900 lbs (more like a 200 black bear maybe as if we could guest the weight). 

The trail started out with an incline and continued with a well-marked steep incline trail for about the first mile.  Mike has been having a problem with one of his knees and decided to head back after about a quarter of a mile.  Jackie and I continued on to see the lake.  At about one mile in we reached the base of the water fall.  A long climb and worth every step the view was breath-taking.  At the base of the water fall the trail splits with the better trail crossing the creek with this better trail only accessible in late summer or fall due to the level of the creek.  The optional trail is not welled marked and has several places we were pretty much crawling up the rocky sections to reach the next section of trail. 

On the trail in we met up with three young women headed out that had packed in and spend the night at the lake.  They told us it was worth the effort and watch out for the goats around the lake they visited them yesterday and last night in their camp.  We asked them to find Mike in the parking area and tell him we were still headed in and in good shape.  As we got to the bottom of the water fall we had a hiker(Andy from Maryland) catch up with up and he informed up that Mike was doing well and quite comfortable in the parking area.  The three of us hiked together for a while but our hiking abilities were not up to our new partners’ and he pushed on ahead of us.  When we reached the lake our new friend was there so we spent a little more time chatting and Andy was off headed back down the trail.  He asked about the goats the girls had seen and asked if we had spotted any.  We had not and in talking he was interested the size and how he could locate them and as we were talking we spotted one up on the mountain side.  The goat we spotted was at a distance that made it impossible to tell for sure if it was a goat or sheep so we all agreed it was a goat.  Jackie and I took a break explored the area and had a light lunch. 

As we were leaving the lake a group of hiker’s young children, young adults, and older couples were arriving at the lake.  Some with fishing equipment, binoculars, and cameras out for a day in the great outdoors of Montana.  As we headed back down the trail there was a steady flow of hikers headed to the lake.  The return hike was just as spectacular as the hike up the mountain with lots of great views and some physical challenges along the way.  We arrived back at the trail head 11:30ish about a four hour hike.  On the way out we asked a couple of hikers’ if then had talked to Mike and they had not that had Jackie and me asking ourselves where could Mike be, he has never met a stranger and always have an interesting story to share.  We get back to the truck and it has a note from Mike…I am taking a walk back toward the main road out pick me up on your way out.  We met several vehicles headed to the trail head and each one informed us Mike was several miles farther down the road.  We found Mike about five miles up the road from the trail head sitting near the creek enjoying the day. 

In the end Mike may not have climbed the elevation but he walked about twice the distance that we had.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Leigh Lake Trail Libby Montana Pictures


The trail takes you to the second largest high elevation lake in Montana.  The trail is 1.6 miles one way with about 1200 feet elevation gain.  The trail starts with a steady incline and a well-marked trail.  As the trail continues it gets narrower and has had less maintenance.  The last half mile gets to be a challenge to follow the trail.  With several area requiring some hands on to get up the rocky slopes.
 
This post is the pictures of Leigh Lake Trail. I have a more detailed description of the hike coming in the next day or so.




















Sunday, July 8, 2018

Old US-2 Hiking Trail Libby Montana


The Old US-2 trail is 2 miles out and back for a total of 4 miles.  This section of US-2 was replaced in the 1930’s it’s a narrow gravel road that was one lane as it passed through the mountainous area of the trail.  The trail runs parallel with the new US-2 and rises several hundred feet in elevation.  The trail goes through the forest with lots of areas that offers spectacular views of the Kootenai River.  The trail was mostly uphill with a gradual grade that made a pleasant hike. 
Shannon Lake is accessible off the trail via a side trail.  The trail to Shannon Lake is short about a quarter of a mile and has a 200-300 foot elevation gain.  The view of the lake is well worth the additional hike.

Kootenai River and US-2

Kootenai River

Kootenai River

Kootenai River and US-2

Shannon Lake

Shannon Lake


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Spruce Lake Northern Idaho

Spruce Lake is a beautiful lake that is about a 20 mile and a short hike from Bonners Ferry.  The elevation is a little over 5000 feet and yes that is some snow/ice on the lake on 6/27/18.











One of the great views on the way to Spruce Lake