Idaho Hot Springs Loop

The Idaho Hot Springs Loop is another route envisioned by the Adventure Cycling Company. Having done two of their mountain bike routes this year, I can say that I am VERY pleased with their work, and would recommend both to anyone wishing to conduct their own self supported mountain bike tour. You can get your maps here for the Idaho Hot Springs Loop. If you are on a budget and already have a GPS, you can just purchase their digital data file for a very reasonable price. This is what I did – however, we also had the benefit of our riding companions having the paper map, which was very nice.

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All of the original route was rideable, however, there was a big landslide on National Forest 227 (the road between Ketchum and Featherville) two years ago. Last winter, there was another land slide, and it is expected that this road will remain abandoned. The section of difficulty is fairly short, but also quite time consuming – especially with a loaded touring bike. I have included pictures of the two obstructions below. The landslide / damaged areas are West of the Bowns Campground. One time consuming portion begins here: 43.58360° N 114.99210° W and ends here: 43.58430° N 114.98632° W – it took us about 20 minutes to cover this 0.25 mile section. The next time consuming portion begins here: 43.58605° N 114.97092° W and ends here: 43.58464° N 114.96949° W – it took us 12 minutes to cover this 0.1 mile section. The third and final slow section begins here: 43.60550° N 114.90475° W and ends here: 43.60654° N 114.88174° W – it took us about 15 minutes to travel this 0.35 mile segment. It is worth noting that someone had recently chopped a path in the willows (and that the water was low enough in the river) to make this feasible. If the water is high, you may find yourself spending a lot more time bushwhacking above the river.

This photo gives you an idea of what the two landslides look like.  Both pretty much look like this, and are to the West of the 3rd difficult section I mention.

This photo gives you an idea of what the two landslides look like. Both pretty much look like this, and are to the West of the 3rd difficult section I mention.

Before venturing into this section, we found a GPS track on Strava that would take us around the obstructions. That track was for the Skeleton Creek trail. After studying the track, it appeared that there was a lot of elevation change, and single track (which may be a good thing, depending on your style). Looking at the time it took people to get across either route, I became convinced that we would be much faster taking the original route as opposed to the skeleton creek – even if the water were high. You can contact me directly if you’d like a GPS track of the Skeleton Creek reroute.

This picture shows you what it was like near the washout section near the Bowns campground (the third difficult section I mention).  It's not that bad if the water is low.

This picture shows you what it was like near the washout section near the Bowns campground (the third difficult section I mention). It’s not that bad if the water is low.

Besides that one difficult section, the remainder of the route was fantastic. The maps promise 41 hot springs, however they are not all soakable. Many are just places where hot water comes out of the rocks, with no discernible pool to sit in. Others are at the river, and may or may not be useable, depending on the flow. Here is my list of top 10 springs that I would return to, going counter-clockwise along the route from Boise:

1) Loftus (Great quality pool with waterfall effect. Somewhat shallow)
2) Pries (if you’re just one person)
3) Worswick (shallow in places, but many options of where to go. Pretty setting).
4) Frenchman’s Bend/Warfield (looked nice, but we did not investigate because there were a lot of people there).
5) Mountain Village Resort (only applies if you are staying at the hotel).
6) Penny/New Penny (New Penny is easy to get to, and shallow). Penny is down a big cliff. We did not investigate.
7) Mile 16 (Probably the best spring on the route. A little too hot for me (measured 110F with my GPS)).
8) Gold Fork (Looked nice; you have to pay to enter).
9) Boiling Springs (One of the prettiest settings. Good Springs. You can even rent a cabin right next to the springs!)
10) Rocky Canyon (looked interesting; we did not soak – it’s across the river, and has terraced pools).

We did not visit any of the springs that were off route (except for Molly Springs, which we would not recommend). Also, we did not do the full route in it’s entirety: we rode pavement between Idaho City and North Fork Boise River Road. Other than that, we remained true to the route designed by adventure cycling.

Hot Springs

Loftus Hot Spring 43.72438° N 115.60443° W

Loftus Hot Spring 43.72438° N 115.60443° W

Me soaking in Worswick hot springs.  I really liked these - and there are more soaking areas up the creek.  43.56242° N 114.79503° W

Me soaking in Worswick hot springs. I really liked these – and there are more soaking areas up the creek. 43.56242° N 114.79503° W

This hot spring is not open to the public.  It is inside a locked building: 44.22093° N 114.93135° W  If you stay at the Mountain Village Resort, you can use it for 1 hour.  You need to schedule your 1 hour time slot so it does not over fill.

This hot spring is not open to the public. It is inside a locked building: 44.22093° N 114.93135° W If you stay at the Mountain Village Resort, you can use it for 1 hour. You need to schedule your 1 hour time slot so it does not over fill.

Mile 16 hot spring.  A real winner!  44.84641° N 115.69728° W

Mile 16 hot spring. A real winner! 44.84641° N 115.69728° W

The view from Boiling Springs Hot Springs. 44.36402° N 115.85662° W

The view from Boiling Springs Hot Springs. 44.36402° N 115.85662° W

Other Pictures

Janet on the way from Lucky Peak Reservoir.  We made arrangements with the Parks service to leave our car there for $40.  You need to buy an annual pass to the park in order to do this.  We bought the pass here: 43.59401° N 115.97391° W and they let us camp in the parking lot.

Janet on the way from Lucky Peak Reservoir. We made arrangements with the Parks service to leave our car there for $40. You need to buy an annual pass to the park in order to do this. We bought the pass here: 43.59401° N 115.97391° W and they let us camp in the parking lot.

Dropping down Trinity Ridge Road.

Dropping down Trinity Ridge Road.

Don't plan on getting any supplies in the town of Rocky Bar...  We did stay in Featherville, which we really enjoyed.  The rooms at the Feather River Motel were big and comfortable.  Also, Pat at the restaurant next door was a HUGE bike packing supporter.  He was a hub of information sent back from other people who were riding the route.  In fact, if you're looking for up-to-date information on the route, he may be the best to ask! (208)-654-2410.

Don’t plan on getting any supplies in the town of Rocky Bar… We did stay in Featherville, which we really enjoyed. The rooms at the Feather River Motel were big and comfortable. Also, Pat at the restaurant next door was a HUGE bike packing supporter. He was a hub of information sent back from other people who were riding the route. In fact, if you’re looking for up-to-date information on the route, he may be the best to ask! (208)-654-2410.

Riding along the North Fork Boise River Road.  The scenery kept getting better and better!

Riding along the North Fork Boise River Road. The scenery kept getting better and better!

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Janet and I had traveled by road from Ketchum to Stanley earlier this summer.  I wasn't too excited about traveling this corridor again.  That was a mistake: This turned out to be an awesome section!

Janet and I had traveled by road from Ketchum to Stanley earlier this summer. I wasn’t too excited about traveling this corridor again. That was a mistake: This turned out to be an awesome section!

I was delighted to see these colorful birds.  Stan easily identified it as a Western Tanager.

I was delighted to see these colorful birds. Stan easily identified it as a Western Tanager.

Tom and Stan.

Tom and Stan.

When we stayed at the  Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, they included these beverages.

When we stayed at the Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, they included these beverages.

We went a little off-route to spend the night at Horsetheif reservoir.  Camping at the reservoir is now paid.  At the time of our visit, the only facilities were bathrooms, but the host said that they are using the fees to bring in amenities like picnic tables and fire rings.  They are all paid for, and will arrive soon.  Meanwhile, in spite of the lack of amenities, we enjoyed seeing this great horned owl, and having our tents circled by wolves.  In fact, Stan and Tom were so frightened by the wolves that they moved into the bathroom for the night!

We went a little off-route to spend the night at Horsetheif reservoir. Camping at the reservoir is now paid. At the time of our visit, the only facilities were bathrooms, but the host said that they are using the fees to bring in amenities like picnic tables and fire rings. They are all paid for, and will arrive soon. Meanwhile, in spite of the lack of amenities, we enjoyed seeing this great horned owl, and having our tents circled by wolves. In fact, Stan and Tom were so frightened by the wolves that they moved into the bathroom for the night!

Our campsite near Boiling Springs.  We didn't camp at the campground proper, but in an overflow area.  Actually, this site was a lot nicer than the campground!

Our campsite near Boiling Springs. We didn’t camp at the campground proper, but in an overflow area. Actually, this site was a lot nicer than the campground!

Tom brought this eclipse viewing device that he had purchased in Peru.  It didn't work very well with the large aperture, but once we started poking pin-holes in paper, we could visualize the shadow the moon was making on the sun.

Tom brought this eclipse viewing device that he had purchased in Peru. It didn’t work very well with the large aperture, but once we started poking pin-holes in paper, we could visualize the shadow the moon was making on the sun.

Janet wearing the eclipse glasses that Stan got for our group.  I didn't realize it beforehand, but this type of lens was crucial for our enjoyment of the eclipse.

Janet wearing the eclipse glasses that Stan got for our group. I didn’t realize it beforehand, but this type of lens was crucial for our enjoyment of the eclipse.

Part of Stan's idea had been to time our ride in Idaho with the "epicenter" of the eclipse.  He got it just right.

Part of Stan’s idea had been to time our ride in Idaho with the “epicenter” of the eclipse. He got it just right.

This is the map for the entire route discussed in this post.  To Export GPX files, click on the three horizontal bars in the upper right hand corner of the map and select Export selected map data…
To see full screen, click here (opens in new window)

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