Fall could easily claim to be the best season for mountain biking in the McCall area. The crisp chill in the air, vibrant ground cover and drumming sounds of the alarmed forest grouse make for an enchanted escape through the forest. For me, riding the trails at the change of season is sacred and often a metaphor for life.
For local riders, it’s an unspoken agreement that we not take for granted any rides we get in before winter. As the days get shorter, so do the after-work miles. This week my after-work rides will include the Huckleberry Trail at Ponderosa State Park and the Payette Rim Trail near Bear Basin.
The Huckleberry Trail is suitably rated Intermediate as some sections are a little bit technical and others are easy as pie! It meanders along the shores of Payette Lake and through big Ponderosa pines. Either direction is fun, but when the sun is setting it’s best to ride the loop clock-wise. Either way, it’s an ascent to the tip of the peninsula. At the single-track’s highest point, it’s worth another short climb to the overlook at Osprey Point for rewarding views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Return to the Huckleberry Trail for a fun downhill back to the shore. The east side’s single track is a bit rocky and loose in spots, so you’ll want to be in the back seat. The west side has a few rooty sections to maneuver that are best approached head-on – and such is life.
The Payette Rim Trail ranks high on my fun meter and is also Intermediate. I ride it as an out-and-back from the unofficially-named “Corrals Trailhead” off Bear Basin Road. It can be ridden as a lollipop (a loop accessed via an out-and-back), but I feel you get the most single-track my way. A lot of this trail is new and will eventually connect to single-track circumnavigating Payette Lake a few hundred feet above the water thanks to a lot of hard work amongst local trail builders and dreamers. The ascent is mellow and smooth for the first bit – an easy spin skirting around some cool looking boulders. After crossing the creek (which is really just a babble at this time of year) it becomes a bit steeper with a few rock gardens. Don’t forget to breathe and look up – you’ll catch some beautiful views of the lake with a few good lookout spots. Once you get to the forest service road & rock cairn, turn around and get some well-deserved super fun, fast and flowy downhill (aside from the few rock gardens of course).
“Pro” Tip: It’s a good idea to have good tread on your tires. Often at the end of summer they’ll wear down, but also at the end of the end summer tires are on sale at local bike shops looking to clear out inventory. Now’s a good time to invest in the rubber that sticks and keeps your wheels from sliding out in the loose dirt. Check out local bike shops in the McCall area here.
“Pro” Tip: Get a map(I have a tendency to make the wrong turn.)! McCall Parks and Recreation has recently produced a trail map that’s got both of these rides. It’s only $10 and can be picked up at multiple sports shops and stores in town. Check it out here.
I know what you’re thinking; it’s all about the journey, not the destination…so I’ll leave you with this from Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”