This loop features beautiful trails that give you a good taste of the desert/forest of SE Idaho. You'll see sage and junipers and as you climb you'll ride through aspens and pines. There are a few rocky sections but the majority is fairly smooth singletrack.
You can ride this either direction, but it is most popular if done clockwise.
Just shy of 3 miles into the ride, you'll want to stay to the right. (Take a left on the first fork when you come to the loose rocks, it is much more doable; after a short ride up a hill you'll go right at the fork.)
Just past 5 miles you'll see the Slate Cut-off
, go right. This trail screams down the drainage, check your brakes. At the bottom you'll cross a creek, go right. Careful if you want to ride through the creek it is steep and muddy and your front tire will sink fast and try to dump you into the creek.
About 8.5 miles you'll come to the end of the singletrack by crossing a cow guard. Go right, this is Elk Meadows Loop
. Your first right turn will be the Gibson mtn trial, which is a steep motorized trail. The S Fork Gibson Jack
is non-motorized and your next right.
Overgrowth on this trail can make sections difficult and with rocks you might not see what strikes your pedal.
The first trail starts off by heading South and crossing the bridge. This is a motorcycle shared trail. Continue for about 0.5 miles at which point you'll stay to the left labeled Slate Mountain Trail
. You'll experience exposure, sage, juniper, aspens and pine as you continue this route.
Just shy of 3 miles into the ride, you'll see a fork with a lot of rocks on the right path. Take the trail to the left unless you want to hike-a-bike. The trail on the left will meet and then split again shortly, this time go right. There will be some rocks along the path, and depending on the time of year the overgrowth can be quite crazy. Be careful about the rocks, they will bite your pedals and sometimes they are hard to see with the overgrowth.
The Slate Cut-off
if a screaming section and there will be a small creek to cross at the end of it. You can carry your bike across the tree stumps placed in the creek if you prefer not to ride through. Be careful; it is muddy and steep when you drop in and you front tire may sink fast.
of Mink is a nice ride with minimal overgrowth and will take you right up to Elk Meadows Loop
. This section has some prime scenery.
Don't take the first right off of Elk Meadows Loop
—go for the 2nd one. The signs are sometimes laying on the ground. Once you get off Elk Meadows loop onto the S Fork Gibson Jack
section you'll come to a pink gate. Its all down hill from here. Drop your seat and enjoy the amazing scenery, that you'll probably not notice much of. There are a few nasty patches of rocks in the trail, but nothing you can't manage if you have made it this far.