“A highly scenic all day ride for the advanced biker in good shape.
— Wayne Hecker
This ride is located east of Challis and south of Leadore, Idaho. It is accessed through the Pahsimeroi Valley Road from the north or the Little Lost River Highway from the south. It is located in Sawmill Creek and its tributaries. Sawmill Creek is the headwaters of the Little Lost River. The trailhead is accessed via paved and dirt roads.
Doing this whole ride will give you an over 24 mile loop in some of Idaho's most remote scenic high elevation mountains. About 10 miles of this ride is on road or ATV route and 14 miles on the singletrack Snowbank Trail
to make the full loop. The scenery is outstanding. Check in with the Lost River Ranger Station in Mackay for trail and road conditions. This ride is miles from anywhere so you may want to camp before or after your ride in the vicinity.
There is abundant dispersed camping in the area on National Forest Lands. The lowest point of the ride is 7,000 feet and the highest is 9,600 feet. There may be patches of snow or snowbanks in the upper elevations for most of the summer. The scenery in the upper elevations is especially outstanding.
Usually fully open mid July to September due to high elevations and snow.
Need to Know
If you ride the full loop going counterclockwise from the starting point as shown on the map there is 6 miles of road riding followed by 4 miles of two track ATV trail to get to Timber Creek Pass where the singletrack starts. Basically the east side of the loop is road or ATV trail, and the west and north side is singletrack.
There are no commercial services and the area is quite remote. Have plenty of gas before you head into this area. There is no potable water in the area so bring it or a filter with you. The USFS Fairview Guard Station may or may not be staffed if you have a serious emergency.
This ride is best done in a counter-clockwise direction. That way you'll get most of your climbing out of the way on roads or atv route on the way up. There are many climbs on the singletrack too. There are also several other trails in the area of varying difficulty. If you like remoteness, you'll love this ride. The start/end of the loop ride is shown on the map on the south end of the loop on the Bull Creek Road, however you could also start/end from the Sawmill Creek Road on the east side of the loop.
Once you get to Snowbank Trail
, the trail meanders through Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, spruce/fir forests, and grassy meadows. Snowbanks linger until late in the summer at the higher elevations, which is probably why it is named the way it is.
This ride is primarily on decent singletrack with an occasional technical feature like a creek crossing, switchback, rock outcrop or steep climb/descent to keep things interesting. Watch for deer, elk, moose, wolves, and black bear as this is home to them all.
History & Background
These were originally Forest Service roads or trails built for logging, mining, or fire control.