Five months of snow-induced activities tend to leave one yearning for change. When the temperatures jump in to the 60’s here in Sun Valley, an eagerness to mix up the daily routine sweeps the town. This is a biking community after all and the first chance to hop on those beautiful two-wheeled mechanical devices is met with open arms. Nevermind the ghostly white legs, extra winter weight, creaking bike parts and dismal Strava times, it’s all about embracing the first glimpse of spring.
The early season can prove to be a tricky time for single track riding, but the BCRD (Blaine County Recreation District) Summer Trail Link does a fantastic job of delivering up-to-date reports on trail closures and conditions. The Forest Service is not installing closed signs this season where things get muddy. Instead, they are asking people to use good judgment and to turn around when they reach wet or muddy conditions. Also be weary of our natural neighbors and keep an eye out for Moose on the southern trails and be sure keep your pets under control. Lastly, remember to practice proper social distancing and keep trails and trailheads clean so that everyone can continue to use our wonderful miles of trails during these times.
Now it’s time to hit the tails! We’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the best early season mountain bike rides. Get out there and enjoy!
Croy Canyon, Hailey (10 miles south of Sun Valley)
Hailey’s lower elevation gives it a leg up on it’s northerly counterparts when it comes to early season riding. Croy Canyon is a favorite hot spot with a variety of terrain and linkable loops to tackle. The open rolling hills and ample sun exposure make it one of the first spots to open up each year. How to ride it: From the Croy Trailhead lot head up the Bullion Connector. At the top of the saddle, head left onto Punchline for a bit of flowly goodness. You’ll come to an intersection at the bottom of the Punchline, continue going straight down Two Dog. A short descent will be followed by a hard left. Take that turn and continue on Two Dog up to the ridge line. You’ll come to another intersection with Centerline. Take the left down Centerline and stay right onto Wilson Gulch. At the bottom of Wilson Gulch, hop back on Two Dog back towards the Bullion connector. Finish right where your started. Total distance is around 9 miles.
- Bullion Connector
- Two Dog
- Wilson Gulch
- Two Dog
- Bullion Connector
White Clouds – Sun Valley
As you venture north towards Ketchum/Sun Valley, pine forests begin to fill in the north slopes, the elevation increases ever so slightly and the temperatures gently decrease. Snow melt rates can run a few weeks behind their southerly neighbors. Fortunately, there are a few zones favorably positioned for early season starts. Enter the White Clouds Loop. This low lying, south facing loop offers minimal mileage/vertical, Instagram worthy views, and easy access to town. You’ll quickly see why it’s a town favorite for spring riding. How to ride it: Head northeast up the bike path from Ketchum towards Sun Valley (the two are only a mile apart and the bike path starts at the north end of town). Not too far past the intersection of Sun Valley and Saddle Roads you’ll see the trailhead on your left. Take a left and venture clockwise onto the White Clouds Loop. When you’ve reached the crown of the loop, look for a bench on your right. It’s a must-stop spot to take in the views of the valley below. Continue riding on the White Clouds Loop. You’ll eventually start your descent to the paved bike path. You have two options from here, either coast down the bike path back towards Ketchum or flip the bike around and ride the trail in reverse for a few extra points.
- Bike path from Ketchum to Sun Valley
- White Clouds Loop
- Either back down bike path to Ketchum or ride the loop in reverse
Adam’s Gulch – Ketchum
Just north of Ketchum lies one of the most popular trail systems in the area. Frequented by all genres of users from horseback riders to sporty dog walkers, these folks chomp at the bit to access this area. The Sunnyside Trail, aptly named for its sun soaked exposure, is one of the first sections to open. Despite the traffic you may encounter along the way, this undulating traverse is one more way of getting out on the single track in the early season. How to ride it: Head out to the Adam’s Gulch parking lot either via pedal power or by car depending on your level of ambition. From the lot head right to the Sunnyside trailhead. Keep your eyes peeled for a left-hand fork to Lane’s trail. At the top of the climb you’ll see a picnic table poised to take in the expansive views of the valley below. Once you’ve caught your breath at the picnic table, continue on Lane’s trail as it descends towards a lower drainage. Be on the lookout for a right-hand fork to Citizen’s trail for a bit of extra climbing. You may run into a trail closure sign as you start to reach the tree line. If you’re forced to turn around, venture back the same route you came up. If the trail stays open, keep following it to the Adam’s Loop. Hang a left and follow the Adam’s Loop back down the valley.
- Adam’s Gulch parking lot
- Sunnyside trail
- Lane’s trail
- Citizen’s trail
- Back the way you came
Early Season Biking Etiquette
Early season conditions can mean muddy trails. Riding on muddy trails can contribute to trail widening. Keep the singletrack single. If you come upon a puddle, on a trail that is otherwise dry, go right through it, not around it.
Click here for a great informational video on proper early season riding tips.
With warm weather days like we’ve been having more and more trails will be open soon so take advantage of some of these trails to get in shape for the bigger loops to come. We’re stoked to see you get out there and rally the early season mountain biking trails here in Sun Valley!