This ride is the the fifth 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 fifth segment is a little bit of a break from the fourth.
Need to Know
There is ample camping all along the route with only a couple tiny sections of private land. Once you leave Smiley Creek Lodge, you'll not have access to supplies until the end of Segment 6 so stock up if you need to. Also all the mountain segments when done as bike-packs should be done with the lightest gear possible that does not bog the bike down in technical sections. So pack light and travel fast.
The fifth segment of the Idaho Trail leaves Smiley Creek Lodge and takes you south on Hwy 75. You don't stay on the Hwy long and will take a left onto Pole Creek Rd. Ride up Pole Creek Rd and avoid turning onto the side roads. Once you get in the trees, you'll be looking for a fork. At the fork stay, right and descend down the Grand Prize
You'll begin by crossing Pole Creek and start by following an old mining road, take a left at the first fork. There's no sign so pay close attention. Two miles later, there will be a trail sign on a tree; take a right when you reach it. At three miles, you'll reach the pass and an expansive meadow at an elevation of 9300 ft.
From here, the descent is open and flowing with some technical sections thrown in along the way to keep you on your toes. The tread is very narrow in spots so keep your bike on track to preserve this amazing trail. There are lots of big, old trees near the pass as it opens up into a wide sagebrush valley.
Near the end of the ride, you'll come to a major river crossing. During highwater, you can detour to the left here on a trail that will lead you to the Bowery Guard Station and a nice bridge. When the water is low, simply continue on the main trail to the Guard Station. Near the guard station there is a hot springs that involves a nice tub that you fill with a hose. This is worth a stop to at least check out if you are into soaking.
After passing the Guard Station, you'll then ride on the East Fork of the Salmon River road until the junction with Little Boulder Creek
. Turn left onto Little Boulder Creek
and begin with some pushing and hiking. The first section off the road is steep, but the trail will mellow out as you leave the road behind.
You'll then follow the creek as you climb towards Frog Lake. Next, you'll intersect with Livingston Mill - Castle Divide Trail (North Segment)
trail and continue climbing, passing by the Boulder Chain lakes before finally climbing to Frog Lake. Frog Lake is an excellent place to camp and there is a pit toilet just before the lake on your right.
History & Background
The Idaho Trail was created to provide mountain bikers with a long distance trail option similar to the Idaho Centennial Trail.