“Southern Idaho exploring from Hammett to Sawmill Gulch up in the Sawtooth National Forest.
— Chris Wandervans
This ride is the the second segment of the Idaho Trail. The Idaho Trail is a mountain bike friendly trail that extends from the Nevada border to Canada. It is a long-distance bike-packing or bike-supported trail. Each of the segments have been divided into what can be accomplished by an average rider in one day of riding.
Since conditions can vary, please plan for possible delays. Where possible, the Idaho Trail follows the Idaho Centennial Trail (ICT), since the ICT was intended as a hiking trail there are deviations for Wilderness Areas and for more mountain bike friendly routes. The first two segments of the trail are located in the Southern Idaho Desert and are the easiest portions.
Need to Know
The majority of the land along the route is public lands so you can camp along the way if you find a good camp spot and want to break up the route some more. Most private lands will be designated with no trespassing signs or posts will be painted a bright orange.
This segment does not pass through any towns and does not even get close. There are no services in Hill City so don't be tempted. If you are desperate for food your best bet is to turn onto the Pine-Featherville Road. Pine and Featherville have some items, but are a considerable detour so it is best to be self sufficient or have a support vehicle.
The second segment of the Idaho Trail follows the southern portion of the Idaho Centennial Trail (ICT). This segment is a mix of dirt roads and doubletrack across vast areas of open spaces.
On this second segment, simply follow the ICT trail markers and use the GPS route to find your way. The route is easy to follow especially if you have downloaded this route to your phone for easy reference or are using the MTB Project mobile app
. Most of the route does not have cell service so be aware of that fact before setting out.
Also, most of the route lacks water. From a mountain biker's perspective the second segment is best done from late April to June 15 and then in October or early November. Avoid the trail if temperatures are high since there is not much shade or water. Access to water is improved compared to Idaho Trail Segment 1
although access can vary from year to year.
The segment is mostly on gravel roads, but there is one section about three miles long that is basically cross country travel. The cross country travel portion is well-marked but not maintained.
This segment begins in Hammett. Hopefully, you have stocked up on all your supplies because you'll not pass another store unless you get off route until Smiley Creek Lodge. From Hammett, you'll now encounter the first real climbs of the Idaho Trail. You'll need to climb out of the Snake River Plain. Most of the steep sections are on pavement. As the farms start to dwindle, you'll enter back into rangelands and the Bennet Mountains. You'll climb over some small hills and then work you way up a couple river drainages as you climb towards Bennet Mountain.
There are lots of cool rock formations along the way and this segment usually has lots of nice wildlife along the way. At mile 29, you'll reach a high point and have a descent towards Highway 20. Just before reaching the highway, you'll start climbing again. You'll then climb for a couple of miles before you enter a rolling landscape on your way towards the Hunter Creek Transfer Camp.
History & Background
The Idaho Trail was created to provide mountain bikers with a long distance trail option similar to the Idaho Centennial Trail.