“Some high desert dirt roads and an abandoned railroad grade through interesting geologic features.”
— Chris Leman
The described route starts at a lightly developed BLM Recreation site that includes picnic tables and a vault toilet. The Big Wood River is nearby and wildlife can often be viewed in the area.
The route passes though some gates. Follow the directions on any signs that have been provided at these gates (Instructions might include things like, "close gate behind you.") If there are no instructions, leave the gate as you found it - if it was closed, close it behind you, if it was open, leave it open. If you are in the area very early in the season, or during rain or snow events, the roads described here may be impassable due to mud. If you leave a muddy track, turn back.
Need to Know
Cows are grazed on these lands during the warmest months of the year. Most people prefer to ride here very early in the season, before cattle are put out on the range.
When things are still snowy and wet in the high country, areas of the Snake River Plain offer many early season opportunities to riders looking to get their mountain bike wheels turning on dirt. This ride offers an introduction to an area where miles of roads and two-tracks are available to the inquisitive. (This area is managed by the Shoshone Field Office of the BLM, which manages something like 1.4 million acres of land in this portion of Idaho, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a few roads worth exploring.)
The route description provided here may not take one to awesome stretches of singletrack, or to any of the seven natural wonders of the world, but it does provide a place to get a ride in when the rest of our local dirt world remains unapproachable. The area is pleasant and uncrowded, and the route takes in a few interesting sites and scenes.
The map for this ride has you starting and ending at a BLM recreation site which includes three picnic tables, charcoal grills, and a vault toilet. The gravel road that leads from the highway to the rec. site is rough gravel.
In places, the mountain bike route follows rather faint, and rough, two-track roads where route finding might be a little difficult. The BLM has installed some carsonite signs along the route to help keep riders on track, but many of these have gone missing in recent years, so pay attention to your surroundings and do your best to stay oriented.
From the BLM recreation site the route heads north to briefly parallel the Big Wood River, then swings east to pass through a couple of gates to follow along the toe of a rock outcropping. At this point the route is along a two-track with brush encroaching on the trail. In about a half mile the two-track bends south, then gains an old railroad grade. Turn left/north to follow along on the old railroad grade.
The railroad grade ends in about one mile, at the Big Wood River and the foundation piers of an old railroad bridge. Here, the route heads east toward a saddle below the north end of Dinosaur Ridge. Next, the route follows another faint two-track (this two-track is just east of the saddle). The faint two-track bends south to connect to a road that takes riders south to parallel along the route's namesake ridge. The loop ends by utilizing some of the roads you used to access the start of the ride, so, if you've managed to stay oriented, the way back to the picnic area/parking area is quite straight forward.