COYOTE YURT: SINGLETRACK, SHUTTLES, AND BACKWOODS AMENITIES
Sore legs, epic views, and cold beer. Three thoughts that command my attention as I reflect on a glorious weekend spent acquainting myself with Coyote Yurt in the Smokey Mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho. This magical, remote place perched high above the valley is a dream come true for mountain bikers looking to ride endless single track from a base far away from it all, yet still fully supported. Think glam camping with all the beer you can fit in to a 4×4, comfy beds, and bottomless vistas. The Coyote Yurt should be on your Sun Valley bucket list.
My journey up to the yurt began when Francie St. Onge pulled in to meet me at the Baker Creek parking lot, a mere 15 miles from Ketchum. Francie sat behind the wheel of a sturdy Ford Expedition, Sun Valley Trekking‘s pride and joy. This workhorse of a rig is retrofitted with a custom rooftop luggage/bike carrying setup capable of piling on all of the essentials for a brag-to-your-friends kind of weekend. Gear was piled in and the mental checklist was crossed off: bike, shoes, helmet, clothes, sleeping bag, food, and beverages. Yes, that’s all one needs as the Coyote Yurt is fully decked with just about everything else.
Forest service roads 162 & 168 meander through the forest to a myriad of adventure opportunities. These backwood boulevards are akin to the yellow brick road except the man-eating plants are replaced with man-moving scenic expanses. We stopped off two-thirds of the way up to stretch the legs and take in the view of the Boulder Mountains. Anticipation for our destination set in and soon we were back in the rig for the final push to the yurt.
The end of road 168 leaves us in a parking area a quick fifteen minute final stroll up to the utopia of Coyote Yurt proper. While the trek is quick, it will surely test your cardio capacity as you pack in your adventure must-haves. Fortunately for us, our provisions were expeditiously delivered to the front door ahead of us.
As you crest the saddle, Coyote Yurt’s new, prominent location comes in to view. Last years’ devastating Beaver Creek fire showed no mercy to original Coyote Yurt, may she R.I.P. A smooth soot-laden piece of open ground is the only remnant of where the former structure stood. Joe St. Onge, owner of Sun Valley Trekking, and his team feverishly labored to resurrect Coyote from the ashes before the winter months hit. Miraculously, the hut was rebuilt and opened in time for the 2013-2014 backcountry skiing/snowboarding season and is looking better than ever.
While yurt opportunities abound during the winter season, summer is a different story. The Forest Service tightly restricts which outfits can operate between May – August. Outside of the Galena based huts, Coyote Yurt is the only spot in the area above 8,000 ft. with permission to be open when the weather is at its prime. The Sun Valley Trekking crew has done a phenomenal job of maximizing the outdoor amenities while respecting the opportunity that the Forest Service has given them.
On the inside, there are two separate yurts, one designated specifically for sleeping and the other for cooking and convening (the cooking side does have three spots to sleep as well). Each yurt has a ample amounts of space, windows to take in the scenery, and cozy wood stoves to to keep warm on those cool evenings.
Outside in the summer is where you really want to be. When you’re not out on the trails, the area immediately around the yurt offers up a fire pit, picnic table, dance floor, swinging chair, and views for miles.
There’s not a bad spot in the house to take in the scenery.
S’mores for the kids and tasty beverages for the adults.
These two rad dudes joined us for the weekend of fun. When I asked Stockli & Abel what they thought of the yurt I was responded with simple yet effective, “way cool Mr. Man”.
Sunrises, sunsets, and everything in-between, the view out towards the Pio’s never gets old.
Night cap on the porch as the twilight lingers well in to the 11 o’clock hour.
Morning coffee brewed on the yurts dialed in cooking setup paired with fresh mountain air, the best part of wakin’ up.
A quick 3-minute pedal from the yurt on a fire road will put you at an access point for Fox Peak and Osberg’s. Roll another five minutes and you’re at the top of Oregon Gulch. Still not satisfied, Curley’s is just around the corner. Whatever direction your compass points you, ample mileage of uncrowded single track is eager to feel the tread spun from two non-motorized wheels.
As many of you are aware, last years’ fire encroached through several of the trails accessed from the Coyote Yurt. Subsequently, you’re bound to run in to the occasional downed tree, washout, and closure. Do you research on which trails are open and lend a hand at clearing obstructions when you can.
The dichotomy of vivid green erupting from midnight black, charred old growth will keep your eyes wandering incessantly.
(Riders: Joe St. Onge, Alissa McGowan, & Alex Vaughan)
The panoramic views are bad either.. Don’t be ashamed if you find yourself taking frequent vista breaks.
(Joe St. Onge)
(Brian Vaughan making sure that the corners are safe to take at high-speed)
After a long day of rallying, three things remained in my mind; sore legs, epic views, and cold beers. The trails around Fox Peak interconnect to a near limitless network of single track, capable of inducing a bit of lactic acid in to the legs of the most seasoned riders. From the Boulders to the Pios and on in to the Smokeys, the bountiful views will keep your head spinning. And, at the end of it all, the accessibility of a pleasant fire road, ensures that you can tote in as much pain soothing beer as your vehicle payload will allow. Coyote Yurt is truly a special place to retreat to the place come for all of these. It’s a must do if you’re an avid mt. biker looking to get out of the city limits, enjoy a glamping experience, and to add some credentials to your Strava feed.
One last thing. If you opt for a shuttle in to the yurt, you have the ability to ride nearly all the way in to the Coyote Yurt via Fox Peak and Adams Gulch. How many other Idaho getaway biking destinations can offer that?
For more details on the Coyote Yurt learn more about Sun Valley Trekking here.