Idaho can keep outdoor adventurers busy for a lifetime. If you’re a mountain biker passing through the Sawtooth area, or posting up to sample the many opportunities for local fun, you absolutely can’t miss riding the Fisher Creek loop trail. If you ride a downhill bike and seek out super steep, technical riding this may not be the ride for you. However, if you’re okay with a decent amount of work on the up followed by long sections of buffed, fast, smooth singletrack on the down then this is a ride for you. The total ride is about 16-18 miles depending, and with the exception of the DH riders out there, I don’t think anyone who mountain bikes could finish this ride and not be completely fired up. It actually seems to be a ride that users who aren’t local are quick to start comparing it to other epic rides they’ve done throughout the country, but even those who live close by and ride it regularly acknowledge it for the amazing ride it is.
To get on the Fisher Creek loop trail head towards the town of Stanley, Idaho. Several miles south outside of town you’ll come to the Williams Creek trailhead (right after you pass the turnoff for Fisher Creek road). Most riders park their rig here so when you finish your ride you’ll end in a blaze of glory after getting most of the major work done up front. After parking at Williams Creek, ride back south on Highway 75 and turn left onto Fisher Creek road. The uphill here is pretty easy and will pass a bunch of homes before you start to lose the houses and follow the creek. It’s a straightforward approach and you never really gain too much elevation for the first few miles. After the homes the scenery gives way to a lush riparian corridor along the creek, wildflowers in June, and a dramatic landscape of burned trees that will be with you for a good portion of the ride. After a few miles the doubletrack road finally jets up and you get a solid uphill pedal to a saddle. The saddle provides some nice mountain views and will show off the trail sign that’ll point you on the right track towards the Fisher Creek loop trail. Take a minute to redirect your energy for the down, sign in at the station and drop in!
The trail starts in a major chunk of burned forest before opening up to super smooth flowy singletrack. With just a little dusting of precipitation I’d imagine the tacky factor would be amazing, but if this first section is dry you might need to keep your speed in check unless you’re really looking to fly, which you can certainly come close to achieving on the downhill sections of this ride. Just when your permagrin is about as wide as it gets the trail flattens out and the trail takes a left turn (well marked) through a stunning meadow. This uphill section really isn’t all that steep and the wandering creek and beautiful mountain scenery will keep you distracted enough until your next section of downhill.
If I could extend any section of the trail it might be this one. As you crest the uphill through the pine forest this next section of downhill is tight, fast and as fun as buffed singletracks get. The forest in this section of trail is green, not burnt, and the bank turns are super surfy with long straightaway’s that open up at times where you can’t help but let your bike run even though you know you’ll be into a tight turn in the matter of a few seconds.
At the end of this pristine downhill section the trail dumps you out into another meadow with a meandering stream where you’ll cross a few wooden bridges.
It’s amazing how the landscape changes on this ride and here you’ll find yourself going back towards a more desert type feel with a short uphill through sage that sets you up for the final downhill stretch back to your car. This last section is just as fun as the other two and opens you up to a few really good vantage points of the great Sawtooth Range.
While this might not be the longest ride out there it certainly makes up for it in the fun factor category. In June, the access road up Fisher Creek road was closed a few miles up by a gate. I was told later in the season the gate opens up making this ride more of a shuttle opportunity. I’ll also mention that there were several sections of trail where downed trees had not been removed, but several locals specified this is common in the early riding times of June and they should be cleared off by July.
When you’re done riding Fisher Creek it’s only a few minutes ride into Stanley to grab a bite to eat or stock up on supplies for your camp scene. With cold rivers and streams to cool off, hot springs to relax at in the evening, and loads of great camp spots in the area the Fisher Creek loop trail is a must if you’re into biking and find yourself in the area. There’s a ton of great singletrack in the area, west towards Boise, and back south towards Ketchum and Hailey, but if you’re really seeking out a gem head right to Fisher Creek and there’s no doubt you’ll be stoked.