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Plan It: An Off-Road Idaho Bike Tour

Adventure Cycling Association Releases New Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route



Mickey Smith rides through an old forest fire burn in the Salmon River Mountains.

©Casey Greene

Idaho boasts more than 19,000 miles of trails for mountain bikers, trails that have garnered a solid “A” rating for mountain biking from the International Mountain Bicycling Association. That’s a lot of mountain biking miles. Due to the Gem State’s secluded wilderness, many more trails haven’t even been discovered. 

In early 2014, the Adventure Cycling Association, a non-profit organization that aims to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle, released a new 518-mile off-road cycling route, dubbed the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR). As the name suggests, the two-map set takes cyclists through the heart of Idaho, providing access to more than 50 hot springs. Sign me up!

The IHSMBR offers four singletrack options (which comes out to 228 miles of singletrack) shown on the second map supplement. Creating backcountry singletrack options is a first for Adventure Cycling Association, which has primarily stuck to creating routes on paved and dirt roads in the past. However, Cartographer Casey Greene noted that the association’s members have been asking for this. “With the innovative new bikepacking gear and techniques that have surfaced over the past 10 years, it seemed like the perfect time to develop this kind of route,” he said in a press release.

The Adventure Cycling Association predicts a boost in tourism in the communities along the route, which include Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, McCall, Cascade, Atlanta, Crouch, Garden Valley, Lowman, and Placerville. Cyclists pedaling the route will be traveling along quiet roads while taking in stunning natural attractions, such as trout streams, sub-alpine terrain, and small mountain towns. Oh, and did I mention the hot springs? Most of which are primitive and undeveloped?

“There are few things I’ve found that go together as well as a day of backcountry bicycling followed by a relaxing soak in one of nature’s own hot tubs,” Greene was quoted as saying. “Those who’ve never experienced it are in for a real treat.”

Sign me up. You too? Great! I love riding with friends. But, before we call it quits and pedal off into the sunset, we need to brush up on the basics to increase our chances of surviving to tell our friends all about our epic adventure. We’ll need to know what essential items to take with us on a bikepacking trip. We’ll need to master our singletrack skills. And we’ll also need to know what to do if we encounter big, scary animals in the woods.

Those who us who plan on flying in from out of town to start their bike tour (me! me!) can access the IHSMBR by way of a 33-mile spur from the Boise airport (depicted on the main route map).

Last but not least, I’d like to give a hearty “thank you” to the American Cycling Association for recognizing the evolution of mountain biking and doing something about it. I’m hopeful this map will motivate fat-tire lovers of all types to explore their surroundings on two wheels. As an avid bikepacker, this route has me inspired to pack my bags and take an extended trip into the wilderness.

For more information and to start planning your Idaho adventure, take a closer look at the Adventure Cycling Association’s Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route. 

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