In August of 2003, I was lucky enough to have enough time to do quite a bit of mountain bike exploring in the Boise, Idaho area. Boise is blessed with many fine trails, ranging from beginners paved greenbelts to expert gnarly downhills. Stephen Stuebner, in his fine book Mountain Biking in Boise (published by Boise Front Adventures, 2002) estimates more than 80 miles of singletrack and jeep trails "right outside the back door".
One such trail he lists is the "Oregon Trail - Bonneville Point" which he lists as an 'intermediate' skill level. I had often taken an Oregon Trail loop that went by the intersection that led up to Bonneville Point but for some reason had never ventured up. One hot and sunny day I decided to check it out and took the right turn up the hill. While not an overly long trip, I found it fascinating as I kept thinking of the early pioneers who had to travel in this inhospitable region with hardly enough food or water, and pulling a wagon with two slow oxen.
And then, since I know many mountain bikers will never have the opportunity to see this firsthand glimpse into America's western past, I decided to bring my camera on the next trip so I could at least share some of the images.
There are several ways to reach the Oregon Trail by bike. Stuebner's ride suggests starting out at Lucky Peak Dam and taking a single track for about two miles until you reach the Oregon Trail. However, I normally bike from my house (rather than driving to a trail head) as this gives me more miles, and I can also pick up more of the Oregon Trail earlier (the Surprise Valley - Oregon Trail loop, also mentioned in Stuebner's book).
But as I was bringing my camera, I decided to drive to the Old Oregon Trail Trailhead, which can be reached by taking exit 57 off I-84, heading North about 1/2 mile to Technology Way (behind the Micron plant). Take a right on Technology Way and follow this road for about 3.3 miles. At this point, the actual trail head can be a little sticky as there is quite a bit of construction going. Well, 'quite a bit' is relative. There are only about 5 or 6 homes out there but it appears they are putting in a new (and modest) subdivision. So you might have to hunt and peck a little to actually find the start of the Oregon Trail.
Take a right at 3.3 miles (you actually have to take a right as going straight is a private drive, and left is the double-track ride along the ridge. At this point, you may only be able to go about a 1/4 of a mile because of barricades due to the construction. I just parked my truck on the right side of the wide gravel road and hopped onto my bike. Take the first left you can take (only a few hundred yards) and the Oregon Trail 'should' be almost directly on your right. I say 'should' as the construction can really mess things up. This is my mileage 0 point.
If you decide to actually take this ride, I recommend lots of water, and possibly a lunch to bring with you. There are no bathrooms, no water fountains, and no waste cans at Bonneville Point. During the summer the temperature can easily reach 95-100 degrees. The good news is that you will have cell phone coverage for most of the ride. :)
I also do not recommend this ride during rain or shortly after a rain. The mud will either be so slick as to be unridable or so thick and also unridable.
I used my Canon A40 Powershot at high resolution for the images. Since they turned out to be rather large and some of the viewers may be bandwidth challenged, I reduced most of them to a more comfortable size. However, the ones I reduced can be clicked on so that the high-end users can see images in their full glory (warning: some of the images are up to 450k in size, even in jpg format).
The three sections of this site are the ride itself, the Bonneville Point Interpretive Center, and some Flora-Fauna-Outtakes (it appears that my photography skills are sometimes lacking).
The Ride to Bonneville Point
The Bonneville Point Interpretive Center
Flora, Fauna and Outtakes
Bonneville Point Bike Trek home page.