Trail #4 and Five Mile Gulch Loop

Well, in a previous post I had mentioned that I have never tried riding trail #4 in the uphill direction, and that I would give it a go sometime, likely after it rained.  Well, unfortunately for me, it rained last night, so I made good on my statement and decided to make a loop out of the whole thing.  The bummer of the deal is that I don’t think trail 4 got any rain to speak of, because it was one loose mess.  More to come…

The Loop:

Starting out at Camel’s Back Park, at the start of Red Cliff’s (#39), I rode up to the Crestline Trail (#28) and turned right onto Sidewinder (#24).  Following Sidewinder up to where it intersects with the Fat Tire Traverse (#42), I followed 42 for a short distance until it intersected with Trail 4 (8th St Motorcycle Trail), and started climbing.  I climbed Trail 4 until I hit the Boise Ridge Rd, turned right on the road, and then turned right again onto Five Mile Gulch (#2).  I followed Five Mile Gulch down to Rocky Canyon Rd, followed the road a ways until it met with Shane’s Trail (#26A), followed Shane’s to Bucktail (#20A), turned right onto Ridge Crest (#20), left onto the road, right onto the Military Res Connection trail (#23), and back to the car via the Kestrel Trail (#39A).  Total distance was just about 17 miles.

Check out This Post for more information on Red Cliff’s, Crestline, and Sidewinder.

Sidewinder ends at a short section of multi-use trail where you can either go left or right.  Going left takes you back down towards Lower Hull’s Gulch and is a ton of fun.  Going right takes you to trail #42 (Fat Tire Traverse) and Trail #4.  If you want to do this loop, take a right.  Just before the trail takes a left turn there will be an even harder left turn onto Trail 4.  If you’re into it, start climbing.

Trail 4: This trail is a multi-use ATV trail, and it does see a fair bit of use.  Consequently, it is often very sandy.  This isn’t a big deal if you’re going downhill, but holy crap is it frustrating if you’re trying to climb the thing.  I had hoped, since we got a little rain last night, that the soil might have gotten a little moisture and hardened up a bit.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Consequently, there were about five sections of steep loose hill that I had to walk up.  The part that made these little hike-a-bike sections frustrating was that these sections would have been rideable (and potentially awesome) if the ground wasn’t so loose.  That being said, there were several steep sections that were rideable and were a ton of fun (as steep hills go).  I do think that this trail would be a blast to ride up either early in the season or after it sees a hard rain, if one of those two things would firm the trail up (for those of you who know, does this ever happen? or is this trail always pretty loose?).  There are about four steep sections (almost the whole thing is a climb, but there are sections that are steeper and harder than others), that have got a decent amount of rock or technicality to them, and would be fun to climb if you’ve got the traction.  The rest of the hill is a pretty average grade and not hard to trudge along.  I averaged about 3.5 mph riding up, not including the walking.  Granted, I wasn’t pushing very hard, but I think that if I had pushed much harder I would have wasted my legs for the rest of the ride.

So you’ve probably gotten the gist of how I feel, but here’s my recommendation.  If you know that there will be some unridable sections because of the loose, and you don’t mind walking a few times, this trail can be a decent experience and challenge.  I myself, completely do not recommend it unless you know the earth will be cooperative.  It was too frustrating for me to want to do again as it was.  I would however, love to try it if it were firm, I think it could be a killer ascent.  So, if you want to ride a this loop and skip the torment of trail 4, here’s my suggestion:

Start on Red Cliffs, stay on Crestline, cross the creek and turn right onto Trail #1 (Crane Gulch Connector).  Follow Trail 1 up to 8th Street and climb 8th street until you get to the trailhead for Trail #4.  If you start #4 here you’ll get to go downhill for a while, and cut off some road riding.  Trail 4 will have an option to turn left to head up to Boise Ridge Road, take that option and climb for a short distance to the road.  This section of climbing wasn’t bad at all compared to the bottom.  It’s closer to the trees and the moisture, so the dirt was doable or great, and the climb was fun.  Once you get onto Boise Ridge Road you’ll be back on track with the rest of the loop.

Boise Ridge Road: Turn right onto the road and follow it for about .35-.4 miles where it meets with the trailhead for Five Mile Gulch, turn right onto the trail, cross a little no-motorcycle barrier, and start descending!

Five Mile Gulch: This has to be one of the funnest downhills I’ve done yet here in Boise.  It was a lot of fun.  It’s single track the whole way, it’s got lot’s of little water berms that make the trail fun, and only a couple corners that require a bit of slowing.  There is a trail that you will come upon that isn’t on the map (maybe 1.5-2 miles-ish from the start).  You’ll be descending 5-mile and the trail will split with one option heading up hill a bit, and the other heading down.  You want to take the downhill option, I don’t know where the uphill goes.  A little ways past this you will come to the intersection of Orchard Gulch Trail (#7), I haven’t taken this one yet, so I don’t know much about it, but it will get you to Rocky Canyon Road if you prefer this trail over #2.  I turned right, though, staying on 5-Mile.  5-Mile will intersect with Watchman (#3), turning left keeps you on 5-mile, and turning right starts you on Watchman.  At this point I turned right, onto Watchman, but changed my mind and decided to head over to explore more of Shane’s trail, since I hadn’t done a section of it.  So, continuing on 5-mile gets you another mile or two of fun descent.  Watch out for oncoming traffic, which can be tough to see!  Five Mile Gulch will end at Rocky Canyon Road.

Rocky Canyon Road: Follow the road downhill.  I decided to stay on the road for a while and try to find where the road meets with Shane’s Trail, but if you prefer you can take a more immediate right onto Three Bears (#26) to absorb more single track.  The road itself is no big deal, watch for cars coming around some tight corners, enjoy the free speed and recovery time.

Shane’s Trail: The intersection with Shane’s trail happened not very far after a big metal cattle guard.  Once you cross (bunny hop — it means business) the cattle guard keep an eye out to the right.  You might ride past it at first but if you keep your eyes open you won’t miss it.  The start of Shane’s Trail from the road was kind of a surprise.  It’s got a steep and slightly rocky entrance.  It was a lot more fun than expected.  I figured that it’d be an easy trail throughout, given that the rest of Shane’s is pretty chill, but this little climb was pretty cool, although not very long.  Once you’re past the climb you’re just about to the three-way intersection where Shane’s can go up to Three Bears, down to Bucktail, or back to the road (don’t go this way).  From here, you can kind of pick your poison.  Turning right will give you some more climbing, and then some fun descending.  Turning left will give you faster, more level single track.  I chose to turn left and ride down Bucktail.

Bucktail: This is a very fun section of semi-winding single track.  This one is always a pleasure to ride, but can get pretty busy with walkers and dogs and such.  Bucktail will come to a sort of “T” intersection.  Take the right option, and then take your next right to get on Ridge Crest.

Ridge Crest: This is a very short downhill that will basically dump you out onto the Mil Reserve Road.  Turn left onto the road and follow it a very short distance to the Military Res Connector.

Military Res Connector and Kestral Trail: Pop on over to This Post to get more info on these two trails.

Overall, just because of the condition of Trail 4, I don’t recommend this loop unless you take the detour I mentioned above, or you did the loop backwards.  I have done this loop backwards and it was fun, but Five-Mile Gulch is a long climb and not for the faint of heart.  Also, descending Trail 4 can get you into a lot of trouble if you let your speed get away from you.


~ by cardwelc on August 6, 2010.

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