Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Feature: Trail of the Week!

Giving my flighty nature and general tendency to move quickly from one thing to another, I hope that I can buck this trend and post a weekly feature one local area trails and loops.  One of the great challenges one faces when trying out the sport of mountain biking is finding suitable trails and navigating along them.  In Boise, its one thing to take on a trail and make a wrong turn, you'll have little trouble getting back where you need to be and often you can seek directions if you find somebody to ask; but in the Owyhees, you're likely to not see any other riders/hiker/equestrians so you'll be on your own.  In no way is this blog guaranteeing that you'll never get lost, however, by taking on routes I feature you'll at least know what you're getting yourself into when you head out.  Enough introduction... show me the trails!

Wilson Peak is at the center in the background.  The road to Wilson Creek is only gravel for a short ways.
I want to start by saying that when you head out on any ride or run in the mountains you need to be prepared and be self-reliant.  What will you do if you get a flat?  What if your bike breaks?  What will you do if you roll and ankle?  Do you know basic trail-side bike repairs such as: fixing a flat tire, repairing a snapped chain, or tightening a loose part?  Go see your local bike mechanic if you don't.  If you're in Nampa, Rolling H Cycles will show you basic repair skills if you ask and bring some cookies for the owner ;)

Parking lot at Wilson
Let's start off this feature with one of my favorite loops in the Owyhees; the Wilson Creek to Bingo Loop.  The overall difficulty of this loop is probably intermediate with some sections that experts will enjoy and be challenged by, particularly climbing up Wilson Creek.  For more information on Wilson Creek in the Owyhees of Idaho, go to the BLM page and click on the map link at the top of the page.  You start in the main parking area and immediately begin climbing on a trail towards the South where W100 exits the parking lot.  For about 3/4 of a mile you'll climb across a couple dips and up some loose sand to the top of a small ridge.  Its pretty steep starting out so if you like a warm up before you begin a climb you may want to consider riding down the road a bit and then coming back to tackle the first hill.

Last little section before gaining Wilson Crk Rd again.
Shortly after topping out the first climb you'll descend a short but fun section until you cross a small drainage and come to a junction where you must go left or right.  At this point you you'll turn left and follow a doubletrack trail East, still on W100.  There is a junction to the right that you'll go past first and then you'll begin the see the canyon carved out by Wilson Creek itself.  Ignore the sign that points to W140 and stay on W100 (Wilson Creek Trail).  This is where you'll begin to feel more challenged technically and if you can ride the whole climb clean to the end then you should stop, pat yourself on the back, and admire what a great mountain biker you are.  The Wilson Creek Trail takes you uphill mostly and you'll pop out back on Wilson Creek Road about 3.5 ish miles into the ride.  Once on the road, turn towards the North and head up the slight incline for roughly a mile until you gain the highpoint of the ride and come the a junction where W500 goes off to the right, downhill towards the East and the Reynolds Creek area.

High Point of the Ride/Run looking back...
Trail W500 is affectionately known as "Bingo!" and you'll see why when you start tackling the two steep, butt rubbing descents in the first mile or so down Bingo!  These are the two toughest challenges on this trail, but the rocks can be a bit sketchy too further down the trail.  If you're on a cross country or trail bike, avoid taking W501 partway down W500.  It gets a bit rough going down W501 and you'll have a bunch more fun on the fast, flowy, and skinny main trail.  W501 does come back to W500 eventually though, so if you take a wrong turn, you can catch back onto Bingo! soon enough.  Enjoy the descent on Bingo! until you come to a dirt road that is labeled Pigeon Rd. on most online map programs.  Take this dirt road straight downhill and stay left at a junction with a branching road that goes off to the right and towards the China Ditch.  After passing the junction to the right you will come to an area on the left side of the road that appears to be set up for camping or other such activity.

You'll find a trail (W400) going up the hill at the end of this circled off area that takes you back towards the start of the ride.  Overall, this loop is about 8.25 miles and is a ton of fun.  It easily can be made longer with different options that I'll post up in future Trails of the Week features.

This is a Garmin course for those of you with a Garmin, however, this particular route is for the W501 option, which is fine on foot but by bike it can be a bear.
Garmin Connect - Wilson Creek to Bingo (501 option)

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