The pass is snow bound until July and trees are usually cut out by mid-July.
The Big Smokey Loop provides unmatched solitude as it winds through remote drainages in the high mountain meadows of the Smokey Mountains. Riders should be prepared since there is no easy way out.
Smiley Creek Lodge is at the halfway point to make it a two day ride.
The first climb is on the South Fork of the Boise road to Fleck Summit. The South Fork road continues in great shape and after about 10 miles on the bike you come to an abrupt change as the road goes from wide and smooth to narrow and rocky, but this is a good sign. After a mile or so on the rough road you come to the trail junction with Emma Creek
. From here you have over 2500ft of climbing in about 5 miles.
starts off steep and loose and then the trail narrowed up and you are back on your bikes slowly climbing. The trail continues to pitch up and you'll alternate between pushing and riding. The trail pitches up after a large old landslide that had carved a 100ft path of destruction down the mountain. From here it is mostly hike-a-bike to the top. Once at the top, keep and eye out for the trail junction at the pass.
The West Fork of Big Smokey
has seen some recent trail work that makes the trail very swoopy and fast. The builders left a sea of stumps spaced just wide enough to allowed a bike to pass through. The trail comes to an end on Smiley Creek Road then it is an easy cruise down the road to Smiley Creek Lodge.
From here you can either stay over night at the lodge or continue. From the lodge you'll ride up Hwy 75 to the Salmon River Road. The Salmon River Road is very mellow and will go by quickly.
At the end of Salmon River Road you'll climb Mule Creek
Trail with some minor climbing on an old mining road to get to the pass. At the pass you turn onto Big Smoky Trail
and you'll enter an expansive meadow and pass the headwaters of mighty Salmon River! From this point, the trail is all very narrow singletrack. Riders will need to understand that there are no bail out options.
After the meadow, the trail descend steeply through some switchbacks and over rough rocks. There will be some occasional muddy areas, so watch out for those since they tend to hide in the grass. The trail then mellows out and you'll begin a series of stream crossings. Do not attempt to ride these crossings. From here, the trail alternates from short ups and downs to buff singletrack followed by rocky sections and talus. A number of trails connect with Big Smokey, so it's easy to track your progress. After about 6 miles, the trail will cross to the west side of the river and remain on that side of the river for the remaining ride.
Signage is great along the trail and you'll have no problem navigating. Towards the end of the trail there is signage that mentions a low and high trail. Unless you are doing this ride in late fall, you'll want to take the high trail. The river can be very dangerous otherwise.
Towards the end of the trail there are hot springs, for those interested in a soak.
History & Background
These are historical motorcycle trails and they pay for maintenance, so please respect them if you see them on the trail!