Get On Your Bikes and Ride 

Six motorcycle routes a stone's throw from Boise

Make no mistake, Idaho is a motorcycle state and Boise is a motorcycle city. How does 30,000 miles of rideable dirt sound? Perhaps 5,000 miles of state highway gets your motor running? It's Mecca if you get your jollies on two wheels.

There are nearly 2,000 motorcycles listed for sale on Craigslist (by owner) in the Boise area at any given time during riding season. Compare this to a mere 600 bikes listed for sale in New York City or 450 bikes in the entire state of Wyoming. The volume of dealers in Boise representing virtually every segment in motorcycling and every major brand is no surprise. From cruisers to sportbikes, adventure touring bikes to purebred dirt machines, Idaho is home to a wide swath of power sports styles.

Whatever your preference, you don't have to venture far to get your fix, as there are myriad epic rides a tank or two of gas from the City of Trees.

Here is a by-no-means complete but healthy list of places to check out close to town, covering both dirt and street excursions.

Boise Ridge Road

It's been a long day at work. You need to get away—quick. Jump on your dirt-worthy machine and head for the hills.

The Boise Ridge Road, officially Road No. 275, runs from the top of Rocky Canyon Road at Aldape Summit all the way to Bogus Basin (and beyond). There is a shorter option, via Sunset Peak Road, should you decide to head back to town down Eighth Street.

From the Ridge Road's sweeping vantage point, you'll enjoy continuous 180-degree views of both the city of Boise to the west and Boise County to the east from roughly 5,500 feet elevation. Best of all, a competent rider can cover the short route in just over an hour.

Be careful though—a mixture of mountain bikers, dirt bikers and 4x4 vehicles can be found on this narrow path, especially during the summer months.

Getting There: Head up Reserve Street from downtown. Reserve turns into Shaw Mountain Road before dropping into Rocky Canyon. Head up the hill about 7.5 miles to Aldape Summit (4,787 feet) and hang a left. Follow this up a steep climb—it levels out just up the road.

After eight miles, you'll come across a left turn option to North Eighth Street. Head back to town or stay on Road No. 275 all the way to Bogus Basin Road.

If you continue along to Bogus, be careful to stay on Road No. 275, as there are a handful of offshoots that can be confusing (like 275E). All said and done, you'll cover 25-70 miles, depending on when you choose to head home.

click to enlarge ANDREW MENTZER
  • Andrew Mentzer

Silver City

One of the more historic retired mining towns in the western United States, Silver City (6,200 feet elevation) is an easy jaunt for people looking to get into the high country from the Treasure Valley.

The changing landscape on the way up is well worth the drive, taking travelers from arid desert to grassy canyons to the high alpine forest of South Mountain.

When you get to the 156-year-old town, you'll be greeted by 75 building relics that take you back in time. Don't be fooled, though, many buildings and homes in Silver City are outfitted with solar power, giving them an oddly modern flare.

You can venture farther west of Silver City toward Jordan Valley, but the road gets a little rougher.

Getting there: Head west on I-84 and take the Highway 45/78 exit to Murphy. Just before Murphy turn right on Rabbit Creek Road. Head 25 miles up the hill and you're there. This trip is roughly 150 miles, out and back.

Atlanta

What's not to like about Atlanta, Idaho? It's out of the way, has some cool history behind it and there's a lot to do if you like to play outside.

Located up the Middle Fork of the Boise River at the base of a bunch of 9,000-plus-foot peaks, Atlanta is deceptively close to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Not far from Featherville, the North Fork of the Boise and some great trail systems, this old mining town boasts an old school economy with active mining still in play. There are usually one or two restaurants open, depending on the day of the week, which makes it a great adventure bike day trip or overnighter destination.

Don't expect five-star service, however. Little has changed since the town's founding in 1864. There are many unimproved camping options on the way up and around Atlanta, as well as quite a few hot springs.

Getting there: There are three options to access Atlanta. The more popular ones from Boise both head west on Highway 21 toward Idaho City. You can take the Arrowrock Dam road north all the way to where the reservoir meets the Middle Fork and continue several hours into town, or you can continue past Idaho City toward Mores Creek Summit and hang a right on road 362 and follow the signs.

Plan on spending at least a full day making the roughly 200-mile round trip.

Street Rides

Lowman Loop

When it comes to carving up the tarmac on your street machine, there are few better rides than the Lowman Loop.

It has the best of most worlds with fast uphill straightaways, tight and twisty canyon sections, and epic scenic vistas. You'll get those abdominals working though, as there are far more curved sections than straight.

Stop in Crouch along the way for a bite to eat, then push through hot springs country. A dip in the natural riverside soaking pools at Pine Flats is always nice after some time in the saddle.

When you reach Lowman, stop to take in the clarity of the South Fork of the Payette River. It rivals the South Island of New Zealand's rivers for transparency.

After summiting some picturesque ridges in the Boise National Forest around Mores Creek, a stop at Trudy's Kitchen in Idaho City for some homemade pie comes highly recommended.

Getting there: Head north on Highway 55. At Banks, take Banks-Lowman Road to Lowman. From there head south on Highway 21 back to town. You'll cover 175 miles on this mini-tour.

click to enlarge ANDREW MENTZER
  • Andrew Mentzer

Highway 52

If you're a fan of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," you'll like this one. Highway 52 is a lovely excuse to take the long way.

Parallelling I-84 to the north and running from Horseshoe Bend to just outside Payette near the Snake River, this route will give you a full dose of rolling Idaho two-lane in a relatively short amount of time.

Skirting the Payette River and Black Canyon Dam, Highway 52 meanders through beautiful old farmland and some of the quieter towns on the periphery of Boise's urban bustle. Hit up Kit's Riverside Cafe in Horseshoe Bend for some grub before jumping on your rural route. When you reach Emmett, you can take Highway 16 back to Boise or continue all the way to the Oregon line.

This is one of southwest Idaho's better cruiser bike routes.

Getting there: Head north on Highway 55. On your way out of Horseshoe Bend, take a left on Highway 52 and ride to your heart's content.

Highway 78

The Snake River Corridor is one of the greatest natural resources of southwest Idaho. From vineyards to sand dunes, you'll get a little bit of everything on this ride. The mighty Snake is within sight most of the way, offering a peaceful backdrop to your efforts.

Catch some shade and soak your toes at historic Givens Hot Springs. Detour over to Celebration Park for a little history lesson before pushing through to the Black Sands Marina on CJ Strike Reservoir for a bite to eat.

Getting there: Start just outside Nampa on the northern fringe of Lake Lowell on Highway 55/95 southbound. In Marsing, get on Highway 78 and head east for as long as you please.

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