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Sun Valley, Idaho: Your Next Mountain Biking Bucket List Destination

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Lars-Erik Johnson

Bucket list

Bucket list — it’s a term often used to describe mountain biking in Sun Valley. What makes this place deserving of such a lofty moniker? First, there’s literally hundreds of miles of prime Idaho singletrack, and because the valley flies under the radar of mainstream mountain bike enthusiasts, there’s not a ton of folks competing for real estate. Heard of the movie Private Idaho? It’s pretty common to feel like you’ve got the place pretty much to yourself. With so many options, where do you start? Well, it’s helpful to size up what kind of riding you’re looking for. Are you the meadow-skipping sort who’s in it for stunning scenery more than white-knuckle descending, or are you rip ready for a rugged, sub-alpine adventure that will leave your legs and arms feeling like a raw tartare you might find on a French menu? Never fear, because we’ve got it all here and can steer you in the right direction.

Mellow Rides

photo: Ray J. Gadd

 

White Clouds For those seeking a less rigorous jaunt with no shortage of amazing views, there are some prime options to be had practically outside your door. Perched on the ridge between Sun Valley and Ketchum you’ll find the beginner friendly White Clouds trail. The gentle grades coax you up to a spectaclar vista where you can take in the postcard panoramas for which the area is famous, before effortlessly contouring the hillside back to the valley floor.

Corral Creek If a little forested singletrack is more to your liking, then Corral Creek is a must-do. Joining the trail just past the Trail Creek Cabin, you’ll wind through sage and aspen before ducking under the forest canopy. Keep your head up as you’re cruising along though so you can catch a glimpse of the majestic peaks of the Pioneer Mountains just in the distance.

Sunnyside - Lane's And let’s not forget a local favorite, Sunnyside and Lane’s trail. From the Adams Gulch trailhead, you’ll pedal into the aspens before kicking up toward the picnic table at the highpoint of the ride. Here you can take a load off just below the cliffs and ponder your next move as you take in the grandeur of the landscape. If you’ve had enough you can double back, but why not go for a little more? Keep traversing below the escarpment and drop all the way down to the creek. Crossing there, you can hook a left and relish the sinewy singletrack of Shady Side that takes you back to the parking lot.

The Classics

photo: Tal Roberts

 

Adam's Gulch Adams Gulch has plenty on tap for you though if you’re thirsty for more fun. Want to see what’s above those cliffs, then consider tackling Adams loop to the base of Griffin Butte. Instead of dropping all the way down to the creek, swing up to your right and follow the foothills on Citizens trail. You’ll come to serene side canyon complete with babbling brook and towering Douglas fir trees. The pedal up is a bit of a grunt, but your rollercoaster reward is well worth the effort. Just a note, if you harbor any phobias of wild flowers or stunning views, then you should probably stay away.

 

photo: Ray J. gadd

 

Greenhorn - Imperial When you’ve checked off all the rides around town, or even if you haven’t, load up the rig with bikes and head off in search of a more backcountry flavor. It won’t be hard to find either, because there’s plenty to go around. First stop is Greenhorn just south of Ketchum. Once featured in The Collective movie Roam you’ve got enough terrain and vertical here to tear the legs off a bison and high-speed descents that’ll pull the corners of your mouth back into a perma-grin.

Fisher Creek For a true Idaho mountain biking classic, head over toward Stanley. There you’ll find Fisher Creek, a trail that earns top-10 all-time favorite ranking by anyone who rides it. Scarred by a fire years ago, the once scorched earth has given way to amazing displays of wildflowers amidst ghostly tree trunks. And bonus, Fisher Creek has a pretty mellow profile allowing a wide variety of riders to take in the backcountry meadows, clear streams, and of course, insanely fun downhills. Saving the best view for last, the Sawtooth stare you in the face right at the end.

Finding Flow

photo: Tal Roberts

 

Baldy, Forbidden Fruit & Galena But Sun Valley has some newly added trails too for a change of pace. Head to River Run and catch a lift to the top of Baldy for a high altitude treat without the sweat equity investment. Rip across the bowls on Lupine trail and take in the stunning expanses of the fragrant flowers for which it was named. Or head back out Adams Gulch and take a bite out of Forbidden Fruit. For bigger, stacked loop systems built for beginner through advanced riders, both Galena Lodge to the north, and Croy Canyon to the south serve up miles of fun flow and jump lines.

Epic Territory

photo: Ray J. Gadd

 

Osberg's Ridge Still want more and willing to test your masochistic mettle? We’ve got plenty of options, but here’s a couple. Osberg Ridge as it’s now known, is a strenuous, high-country trail that tops out at over 9,500 feet. The altitude may take your breath away initially, but the views will keep you gaping. Once dubbed ‘Sound of Music’ by some locals, you can almost hear Julie Andrews bursting into song as you bask in the alpine beauty.

Boundary Creek No less impressive is Boundary Creek to Big Casino just across from Redfish Lake. The approach is steep as, and anyone who cleans it deserves a round of sport beers after the ride. That said, the occasional push affords a break to turn around and gawk at the spine of the Sawtooth Mountains with the lake quaintly nestled in the foreground. Once you do top out though, catch your breath, drop your seatpost, and open your suspension, because you’re going to want all of it. The descent sends you cascading down a rugged funnel of old school singletrack all the way down to the refreshing waters of the Salmon River. Next stop, that round of beers.

Bonus - Best Après Beer Spots in Town & Trail Resources & Bike Shops

Après Beer Spots

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