We are big on “just wander” styles of biking. So far, the 2016 Idaho fall weather has been excellent for some nice weekend S24O rides. The “start” of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Idaho Hot Springs MTB Route is right out our door, but finding the time to ride the entire route in one big trip isn’t feasible. We’ve ridden sections of the trip – last year we accomplished 150 miles when it was 112 degrees in the shade so this year we opted to wait until after fire season and the summer heat and planned to ride two more sections. We also opted to be flexible and let go of the purist idea of where one should start a ride. Sometimes life gets in the way and while we did get one section ridden the other will now probably wait until spring. In September, the stars & the full moon lined up and we ventured to Atlanta with some great biking friends. While our entire ride isn’t described on the Hot Springs Map this is a great get away ride with some beautiful scenery. Another group decision was to not start in town and suffer the 12 to 14 miles of horrendous wash board on the Middle Fork Road. Enough of us have biked that section to know once was enough. Taking off after work on a Friday we drove to Willow Creek Campground, knowing there was a full moon we were happy to see clear skies. What we didn’t account for was the full moon attracting campers who had no intention of sleeping and having them set up camp right next door… A bit bleary eyed we took off for Atlanta Saturday am. The road follows the river pretty much the entire 47 miles so, for the most part, it is a gradual climb. The last few miles the road steepens but knowing the bar and cafe in Atlanta weren’t far off we all geared down and carried on. The Bike Hermit wrote about his trip to Atlanta last year and did a great job of describing the bar. Happy to say it hasn’t changed. Good beer, a choice of cheeseburger or hamburger and life was good. Not only that but they agreed to feed us breakfast the next morning, truly an easy decision for all of us. The seven of us had the campground to ourselves and the hot springs to ourselves as well. We all agreed this would make a great annual fall trip.
Things to know:
- The road is dirt and gravel. For the most part a bike with 38 mm tires will do fine – there are some sandy areas. We had two Surly ECR’s, 2 Trolls and a Disc Trucker on our ride and all did awesome.
- The washboard isn’t as bad if you start anywhere beyond Willow Creek Campground and it gets better once you leave Boise County.
- The folks at Twin Springs are very friendly – one could also rent a cabin there and another cabin in Atlanta and be really spoiled (except the beer choice at Twin Springs is Coors or Bud so pack accordingly)
- The Campground in Atlanta seems to be free after labor day
- Hot Springs in Atlanta are nice. We opted for the one by the river below the campground but the pool close to the campground is also great. We didn’t ride down and look, but there are more hot springs by the river as you pedal to the campground.
- Fall vehicle traffic wasn’t bad and people were polite.
- There are plenty of places to camp along the way.
Highly recommend! Photo Credits to Paul Lindquist and Ron Riley