“A great loop with easy access from town. About 7 miles long, this ride is a lot of fun.
— Jordan Carr
An iconic Sun Valley ride, the Adams Gulch
Loop (known by many as the Griffin Butte Loop) is an outstanding ride that takes in a variety of terrain and settings. The loop is great in either direction.
Clockwise, ride out and up Adams Gulch
on the road-like Trail No. 146, or take the low trails lining either side of the gulch. Which ever way you head up the gulch, you'll be aiming to get on the Griffin Butte Connector
Trail No 839. This trail heads north to climb out of the lower reaches of the gulch to take you to the top of the loop and a fun descent back to the trailhead.
Counter-clockwise, take Sunnyside Trail No. 316 out of the trailhead to the west to the Adams Rib Trail No. 142 (Pork Chop Section of Trail No. 142). You'll encounter steep climbing on Trail No. 142. Topping out, the descent down the other side is an exceptionally fun bunch of singletrack.
Which ever way you tackle this ride, keep in mind that you are riding in an area that is very popular with all manner of trail users. Watch for others approaching from the other direction and be ready to yield the trail.
Within 200 feet of the Adams Gulch
Trailhead area, dog owners must remove all pet waste and keep dogs leashed at all times.
Need to Know
You can easily ride your bike to the Adams Gulch
Trailhead from town. There are a couple of ways to do so. You can ride out the bike path that parallels Highway 75 north of Ketchum, then turn left to take neighborhood streets to the trailhead. Another option is to approach the trailhead from the Warm Springs region of Ketchum. This is accomplished by utilizing Wanderers Way (a Warm Springs neighborhood street) to access the Heidelberg
The ride can be ridden in either direction, but the most common approach is to head out from the Adams Gulch
Traihead on the old road-like trail that follows the bottom of the drainage. This ride description will focus on that approach.
Take the Old Adams Gulch
Road Trail No. 146 to the west to ride up the drainage. You'll cross a number of small footbridges as you head upstream. Stay on the main, road-like trail. After about 1.5 miles you'll want to stay right where the road splits. (The road to the left is the bottom of Eve's Gulch
Trail.) Stay right to follow the Trail No. 177 (also quite road-like in spots) and cross the creek a few more times, again on small bridges, to arrive at the Griffin Butte Connector
Trail No. 839 on the right. Climb on the No. 839 Tr. for about 1.6 miles to reach a false summit where the Griffin Butte Connector
Trail intersects with the Adams Rib Trail No. 142.
At this broad saddle/summit area there are some good views of the surrounding countryside. Its a popular spot to take a break, chew on a snack, or re-hydrate before heading on.
To keep going on the loop you'll want to continue straight onto the No. 142 Trail to drop steeply, then climb again to reach the main descent back toward the trailhead. At this point, where you come to another open area, you'll have an outstanding view of the Pioneer Mountains in the distance. The views that are closer-in aren't bad either, with the nearby Griffin Butte adding another layer of beauty to the mix.
Once you are done checking out this viewpoint you'll pass into a rocky, and at times, incised ("v"-shaped) section of trail tread. Have fun bouncing over, and dodging, the rocks as you bank from side to side in an effort to keep rolling and negotiating the, at times, tricky descent.
While descending, stay straight/right where the No. 142 trail and Harper's Trail
No. 323 meet. This puts you on the Pork Chop section of the No. 142 Trail and more steep descending. After a while Pork Chop swings into and over some of the side-hills that frame the upper reaches of Adams Gulch
. Here there are nice views into town and over to the treed slopes on the western flank of the Adams Gulch
drainage. Those treed slopes burned in a mosaic pattern, which has left the hillsides with a rather striped appearance.
At the bottom of Pork Chop you'll want to hang a left to gain the Sunnyside portion of the No. 316 trail. Sunnyside is super popular with hikers, dog walkers, runners, kids and grandmas, and all manner of bikers, so chill out and ride slowly where others may be approaching from around blind corners. Where you have a clear trail ahead, enjoy a wonderful swooping ride through the Aspens back to the trailhead.
History & Background
The 2007 Castle Rock Fire burned through portions of the forest traveled on the Griffin Butte Loop. At places along the route evidence of the fire is apparent. Traveling in areas of the fire can pose added risks, but alert and careful travelers should have little difficulty if they keep a few things in mind. Burned standing trees may fall. For this reason, they pose a danger to trail users, especially in times of high winds. Check the weather before you head out and avoid riding in burned areas if high winds or storms are predicted. Carefully approach blind curves and other areas where a clear line of sight is not available; watch out for unexpected hazards which may have rolled or fallen onto the trail.