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You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Local Outdoor News James Creek Mountain Biking Trip

James Creek Mountain Biking Trip

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(June 13th, 2012)  The road up to the Atlanta Summit was still closed on June 13th, but that just means a trafficless mountain biking trip in one of the most beautiful places in the Boise National Forest. Normally referred to as “James Creek Road” or the “Road to Atlanta, Idaho” and it's normally one of the last roads in this area to open up each summer. So who can pass up a chance to mountain bike on a closed road? Not me.

Rocky Bar Idaho Mountain Biking

The Road Up to James Creek Summit
To avoid any false advertising claims I must point out right now...I did not make it all the way from Rocky Bar to James Creek Summit on this trip. I stopped at the Elk Creek Bridge and turned around. But you are more than welcome to do the entire trip if you think you have the chops.

From Mountain Biking James Creek Road near Rocky Bar Idaho

We parked just off James Creek Road, less than ½ mile north of Rocky Bar and right were the “Road Closed” sign blocked the way. From there it was all hike/bike on this out and back trip and mostly it was hike while pushing my Cannondale mountain bike up the road. But I can rightfully brag my partner on this trip never once climbed on the saddle during the grueling grind up the road.

Overall, the road is in pretty good condition but there are a lot of baseball to softball sized rocks lying on or slightly embedded in this dirt/gravel road. As I have hiked this road a number of times in the past, I also observed that it's much drier up there this year than the last few years. But one thing that has changed in the last 3 years is the steepness. This road has gotten much steeper since 2009 when I mountain biked this same road. Or maybe I'm more out of shape than I was 3 years ago?

From Mountain Biking James Creek Road near Rocky Bar Idaho

The “Not So Speedy” Return Trip on the Bike
The statement made by the pro mountain biker Juliana Furtado “The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash” certainly rang true on this trip down the hill. There were many near fatal crashes on this trip.

Being out of practice and having that 4 legged, non-riding partner running inches from my front tire made for a slowish ride down to Rocky Bar. Even though there wasn't any high speed bombing down the deserted James Creek Road, we made back in short order. The only downside to the speedier ride is missing the views you'd likely see if hiking.

Five Highlights of the Trip
1. Elk Creek Waterfalls: I stopped at the spot where Elk Creek crosses under James Creek Road. The waterfall was in its full glory and I had lunch beside the creek. Just a great place to stop and reflect on life.

From Mountain Biking James Creek Road near Rocky Bar Idaho

2. Bald Mountain: Something about this burned mountain peak that inspires me when I see it. And it's hard to miss when on James Creek Road.
3. Heading up a trail I've seen so many times but always ignored to get to my destination faster. I finally took the time to head up this trail at lat/long 43.723258, -115.274972
4. The solitude!
5. I came back unhurt and still able to walk, talk and see.

Map of the Mountain Bike Route  and Hike from My GPS Unit

View Larger Map
Go ahead and move the map around...if you can.

Stats of the Mountain Biking Trip
  • Total Mileage: 7.67 miles but less than half was actually “on-bike”.
  • Average Slope: 7% but when trying to ride uphill it felt more like 70%.
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,542 feet

Links to Explore

From Mountain Biking James Creek Road near Rocky Bar Idaho

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