The air expresses a distinct chill and the golden glow of autumn is illuminating the landscapes of the Wood River Valley – the famed “Two Wheeled Nirvana.” Among the 400+ miles of singletrack in the area, several mountain bike trails hit the fall-riding sweet-spot. We’ve outlined top trails that optimize sweeping singletrack through the vibrant fall leaves located at lower-elevation exposed to sunshine maintaining tacky, yet drier dirt.
Access: Fox Creek, Lake Creek or Hulen Way Trailheads
Description: The Fox Creek Loop is a prime trail for any season with stunning open views of the valley, surrounding mountain peaks, and ample swaths of golden aspen groves. To optimize the downhill flow, bikers should ride counter-clockwise. After the one small creek crossing, the mellow climb gradually winds up through burned forest from the fire in 2007. The vibrant colors emerging from regrowth are fascinating to witness. At the top of the climb, refuel while enjoying scenic views of snow capped peaks in the distance. The next segment of the trail is a fast flowy singletrack with some slightly rocky parts as it weaves through aspen clusters with glowing yellow leaves. After the final descent, the trail gently flows between cottonwood trees alongside the Big Wood River. For extra distance, this trail is often combined with the Chocolate Gulch Loop.
Access: Chocolate Gulch or Fox Trailheads
Description: Pairing bright fall foliage with incredible views of the rugged Boulder Mountains, this popular trail is a local favorite to link with many other trails in a variety of ways or ridden as a quick loop itself. Combine Chocolate Gulch with Fox Creek to create a longer ride with a balance of swooping low angle climbs and fast smooth downhill ripping across the fallen leaves creating a natural golden pathway.
Access: Adjacent to the town of Ketchum, the many trails of Adams Gulch can be accessed by pedaling from town or by driving to the trailhead. Heidelberg trail connect Warm Springs road over the hill with Adam’s Gulch Trailhead. From here, there is a variety of trails suiting all skill levels each transitioning between shaded forest, groves of aspens, and contouring ridgelines soaked with sunshine.
Intermediate Loop (~10.9 miles): Combining big mountain views with a short and sweet flow trail, get a taste of the various terrain kickstarting your heart with an initial climb up Adams-Lake Creek Connector continued by a climb up to Harper’s Trail. While catching your breath, look back over your shoulder to take in the colorful vista across the valley. Bald Mountain will emerge in the distance as you continue to gain elevation. Continue straight past Griffin Butte Connector for a grip-it-and-rip-it quick downhill. The next intersection merges back with Adam’s Gulch Loop soon followed by a right turn merging to Eve’s Gulch with shaded woods. Continue to climb until the sign for Forbidden Fruit Flow Trail where you’ll take a left onto the connector that will land you at the top of the adrenaline pumping, endorphin inducing flow trail. Let it roll as you cruise down through berms and over small table top jumps. Rounding off the loop, after the flow trail, ride down the gut of Adam’s Gulch until veering right onto Shadyside Trail which winds up and down the wooded forest sprinkled with yellow, red, and orange leaves.
Beginners Loop (6.1 miles): Optimize the scenic autumn colors with a relaxed ride at a consistent grade contouring the golden filled gulch. Beginning at the Adam’s Gulch trailhead, pedal along Lane’s/Sunnyside Trail traversing the hillside. For a slightly longer ride, continue onto Citizen’s Trail before merging left onto Eve’s Gulch trail descending parallel to the creek through the lush Gulch floor.
Access: Greenhorn Trailhead
Description: One of the most rewarding, fun, and awe-inspiring rides within the Wood River Valley. This loop starts with a gradual incline across the meadow and quickly becomes encompassed by the burned forest interspersed with neon yellow leaves from the regrowth. There are several grueling sections during the middle of the climb up Greenhorn which eventually opens onto a high ridge line. The fast descent begins after a half mile past Imperial Gulch intersection. From the saddle through the grassy hills, riders are engulfed by remarkable views of the Pioneer Mountains, Mahoney Butte, and sweeping hillsides of burned forest with a carpet of fall colors.
Miles: ~2-4 miles
Access: Carol’s Trailhead across from the Sun Valley Lodge approximately one mile northeast of Ketchum.
Description: The White Clouds Loop traces the horizon of the adjacent hills above the Sun Valley Lodge and along the White Clouds Golf Course. With copious amounts of sunshine, this low elevation trail remains dry later in the season providing a convenient excursion above town. Because the gently graded trail loops all aspects of the hillside, it’s a stunning place to enjoy both sunrise and sunset. During the autumn months, the transitioning yellow leaves lining the valley below contrast the distant mountain peaks. The famous Sun Valley icon, Bald Mountain, is a highlight of this classic trail.
Access: Trail Creek campground parking lot.
Description: This smooth mellow singletrack is best ridden as an out-and-back. After a small hill, the trail meanders through sagebrush benches intermittently encountering aspen swatches. As soon as your heart rate is ramping up, the trail swoops into a shaded conifer forest for several miles. The return ride allows for rapid descents with views of ski famous Sun Valley Ski Resort in the distance.
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Access: Croy Creek Trailhead approximately 6 miles out of Hailey.
Description: The Croy Creek Trail System was re-opened during July, 2015 with newly renovated trails. The area offers 18 miles of singletrack linking a variety of loops for all levels of riders. Located farther south in the Wood River Valley outside of Hailey, this trail system remains drier with optimal sunshine and low elevation temperatures.
A favorite for those looking to add more gravity-fed spice to their ride is the Punchline Flow Trail. This flow trail is extremely new with perfectly manicured berms connecting multiple rollers and small table-top jumps. This ride is paired well with the buffed flowy singletrack of both Wilson Gulch and Two Dog trails.
While winter is nearing, the fall bike riding is in prime condition. See you on the singletrack!