“Another great Salmon backcountry shuttle with burly descents, remote singletrack and huge vistas.
— David Lingle
Expect deadfall. Local riders do their best to keep this ride clear. Help out, ride with a saw. Check with The Village at North Fork or The Hub in Salmon about the trail status.
One of the best backcountry shuttle rides around, Butcherknife to Ax Park combines tough cross-country riding, huge ridgetop vistas and fast, challenging descending.
Need to Know
This is a tough backcountry ride. If you are looking for purpose-built flow trails...look somewhere else. Be prepared.
Hughes Creek Trail comes out about 5.5 miles up Hughes Creek at the end of Road #233 beyond its junction with Hughes Creek Road #091. Leave a rig here OR near the bridge and junction of Hughes Creek Road #091 and #088 adding an extra couple miles of gravel riding.
The ride starts from the top of Road #257: cross Hughes Creek and drive up Road #088 for 5 miles then bear right on Road #257.
From the shuttle drop-off on the top of Road #257, follow the doubletrack along the crest of the ridge 1/2 mile up to Butcherknife Ridge
is easy to follow singletrack through woods and a few meadows. The trail has a few steep sections and climbs ~800' in the next 5 miles to the state line: expect to hike-a-bike as you near the border.
Once at the top of Butcherknife, you'll turn onto Divide #106 Trail, aka Stateline Trail. Hang a right, and the trail gets fainter and rougher and basically stays near the top of the ridge for the next 3 miles. A large stone cairn marks the high-point; the ride descends steeply after this, leaves the ridge and drops 600' before leveling out and returning to the border.
The trail comes to a hunting camp with a picnic table and some other relics. Soon after leaving the camp, the trail comes to an open hillside. Go right here and contour on the Hughes Creek #113
Trail; this junction is faint so keep your eyes sharp or use the MTB Project mobile app
Do not expect a ripping descent back to the bottom. The trail dives steeply into a sharp gully only to climb back out, cross a ridge and drop to a second gully. The trail climbs and contours for a mile and comes to Ax Park, followed by a third steep drop to a gully and a tough 1/2 mile climb.
Now the bottom drops out, with the trail descending close to 2000' in the last 2.5 miles.
As a loop this is 24 miles. The initial gravel road climb adds ~6.5 miles and ~2800' of climbing to the ride above. Park at the junction of Hughes Creek Road #091 and West Fork Hughes Creek #088. Climb Road #088 for 5 miles then bear right on Road #257.
History & Background
Large forest fires in 2000 and 2012/13 burned through much of this area. The charred trees will be present during most of the ride. The Butcherknife Ridge
Trail was rebuilt recently after a large dozerline was put in to deter the fires.