Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mountain Biking the Bitterroots

Posted By on Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Finding good trails in the Bitterroot can be a bit of a trick. Most of the canyons are best left to hikers because of extensive rock; but around the periphery of the valley there are some great rides. Making loops takes some investigation and usually some strong legs and lungs, but one of the best loops has got to be Lake Como.

Northside trail at Lake Como

If the circuit around the lake does not give you enough there are other trails in the area along both ridges both south and north of Lake Como. Accessed in a variety of ways including off the forest roads there are great smooth trails and old two tracks through the forest to make for up to a full day length ride without ever substantial uphill vertical gain. With lots of views of the lake from many sweet spots, this has got to be the best place for mountain biking in the heart of the Bitterroot Range.

For the more aerobic and climbing centric cycler there are some great rides up Warm Springs Creek, highlighted by the Warm Springs Ridge to Fire Creek trail, a 3000' climb followed by an exciting descent to Warm Springs Creek. With additions to this ride, this may be the best place to get in really good shape and has lots of loop and figure eight options with big vertical, dirt trails, and at this point quite cleared out by the local Hamilton mountain biking club.

Descending Fire Creek Trail

Further east there are some good options for biking in the Sapphire Range, with the Little Sleeping Child ridge trail an obvious single track favorite. Accessed from a small trailhead and involving steep trail and switchbacks out of the gate, the trail eventually gains the ridge and follows for many miles gradually gaining elevation towards Blacktail Point. With miles to explore this in and out ride is good for rides with a time constraint, but with good elevation gain and single track right from the start. With amazing views of the Bitterroots and open usually early in the season due to dryland area, this ride can be good as early as March some years.
Littel Sleeping Child Ridge Trail

Bitterroot view

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