Lucky Peak Loop

A few days ago I was driving to Boise from Nampa and saw a big hill in front of me with a radio tower on top, and realized that I’d never been out that direction.  Figuring that there had to be some trails up that way I checked it out on the map and found out that it was none other than Lucky Peak.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any mountain bike specific trails that take you to the top.  Despite that, it’s a huge hill, and I really wanted to ride to the top…here’s how it went (Trail 11 to Lucky Peak Summit to Trail 12).

I started out on E Warm Springs Ave, parking just west of Highland Valley Rd at a little parking lot that has access to a wildlife refuge of some sort (Barber? might be the name…).  From the parking ride east to Highland Valley Rd and took a left.  Following HV Rd, it turns to dirt and ends at the beginning of West Highland Valley Trail (#11).  Follow Trail 11 up until you meet E Highland Valley Rd and take a left.  (Not very far before you come to this intersection you will cross another dirt road.  It looked like there was a trail if you turned left here, but you’ll want to turn right on the road (barely) and continue on trail 11 almost right away to your left)  Following E HV Rd you will come to a division where you can stay straight or take a hard right.  There will be a sign here for some kind of Bird Observatory or similar.  Take a right and continue up “trail E.”  It wasn’t too long after this intersection that I got lost.  I decided that I wanted to explore Hornet Loop (#9).  The TH for #9 is obvious.  You ride around a gate and continue on a very unused old double track.  My goal was to get to the old mine and make my way back to the road to the summit.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this trail is really meant to be used anymore.  I came to a very unclear 4-way intersection and decided to stay straight, which took me down a steep hill, to surprise:

Trail is closed.  Well, closed to bikers.  Genius that I am, I decided not to go back the way I came and hiked my bike through some bushes to a somewhat rideable trail that continued about 100m away.  I rode my bike through some of this, but had to walk parts until I came to another road.  This road ran somewhat in the direction I needed to go, so I took it hoping that it would reconnect with E.  It didn’t.  I followed it for a couple miles and ended up just behind the summit of Lucky Peak, behind a locked gate.  Jumping over the gate put me back on track.  I rode down Lucky Peak Trail (#8, a road), connected to Homestead Trail (#12), and back out to Warm Springs Ave, to the greenbelt, and back to my car.

Highland Valley Trail: This is an old double track that has been used as a single track for enough years that it’s only a single track in places…if that makes sense.  This trail is not technical, and is all uphill.  Overall, it isn’t a bad trail by any means, but I would consider it an access trail…not something I would ride for fun, but something I would ride to get somewhere else.  It’s wide, flat, exposed to the sun, and one big hill.  If it were technical in any way it would be a lot more fun, but as it is, it’s a pretty tiring drudge up to the road.  The incline isn’t terribly tough, but it got me pretty tired and sweaty.  I have found that I get more tired on these non-technical, less interesting hills, than I do on those that are more distracting and more difficult, so you may find it to be easier than I did.  Trail 11 ends at the road.  If you follow the road to the left and stayed straight, instead of going to trail E, you would give yourself access to Trail 13, Cobb Trail, which is a pretty fun downhill, with (if I remember right) just one uphill thrown in.  It’s worth a go if you decide to ride this area.  I haven’t ridden 13 uphill yet, but I’d bet it’d be more interesting that 11, so that might be a good way to go.

Trail/Road E: No surprises here.  This is a road.  It’s not a difficult climb, but it is a climb.  And if you do it during the day, it’s HOT.  I stopped once to take refuge in the shade of some sagebrush, but that’s about all you’re going to find for shade.  The road is not demanding, but it isn’t un-steep either.  I wasn’t doing more than 6-7 mph for the majority of this bit.  Maybe if it were cooler I could have gone faster, but I don’t know.

Hornet Loop (#9): Not worth it.  This was the beginning of my uphill demise.  This trail has not been used by hardly anyone for a long time, and I can’t tell you where to go, since I got lost.  My guess is that when you come to a 4-way intersection (where straight looks like the best option), turn left.  I think that will get you back to the road.  If left really does get you back to the road, then you might as well take Hornet Loop, since it’s a semi-single track, and since it’s so under-travelled, it is bumpy and way more technical (though it’s not really technical) than the road you just left.  Before I got to the hike-a-bike section, I felt pleasantly distracted from the uphill grind, so that was nice.  It’s not a terribly scenic section of trail (except for an almost complete skeleton of the upper torso of a cow, sans head), but it does give you a nice view of the Boise River.  So, final word: if turning left at the 4-way gets you back to the road, it’s worth the detour if you feel you need a little more variety in your ride, if it doesn’t, or you don’t, stay clear.

Lucky Peak Trail: Fun, Fun, Fun!  This is a road, not a trail, but it is fast and a ton of fun.  Watch your speed, as there are ruts, corners, and loose rocks that can kill you if you’re not prepared, but going down it for the first time and not knowing what to expect, I was able to cut loose quite a bit, and it was a blast.

Homestead Trail: Road 8 will take a left turn at a very visible gate.  Homestead continues to the right of this gate.  On the RTR map this is marked as a trail, but it’s just another road, so I don’t know what the deal is about that.  Irregardless, it’s still a lot of fun.  Not quite as much fun as 8, since you can’t keep up as much speed, but it’s still a good time.  Homestead has several hard corners, and some potentially really scary moments.  There were several berms that I used as jumps, that had deep ruts immediately after them.  If you hit a berm wrong and land in one of those ruts you are toast.  There was one section where I got stuck on the wrong side of a deep rut going way to fast to stop before my portion of the road ended abruptly, so I had to do a sideways sketchy bunny hop to avoid carnage.  This wouldn’t have been any big deal to a downhiller or a better freerider, but it was pretty tenuous for me.

Homestead will dump you out into a little neighborhood.  Just stay straight and you’ll cross Warm Springs Ave to get onto the greenbelt.

Overall, I really dig this loop, or at least the idea of it, since I got lost.  If you’re feeling like you need some good hill exercise with a stellar payoff, this is a great way to go.  Just bring lot’s of water!

Here are the maps.  In the first one the red bits is where I got lost.  The darker red section is Trail #9, ending at where I think you need to turn left (guessing, based on the map).

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~ by cardwelc on August 18, 2010.

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