Monday, May 18, 2015

Empire Trails Ride Report

This Spring there has been a buzz about some new trails in the Spirit Lake area.  Just an FYI for you geographically challenged, that does happen to fall in Idaho, North Idaho even.  It is not very often we have a network of new trails pop up, so I thought we should go check them out.  I would say we took a road trip, but at only 40 minutes away, it was a shorter drive than the trailheads of many of our other "local" rides.

First let's take care of some admin stuff.  These new trails are called the Empire Trails.  They are just a few miles outside of downtown Spirit Lake.  They are on Inland Empire Paper Company property...hence the trail name.  This also means the trails are on private property.  The paper company got together with the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce, formed the Spirit Lake Trails Alliance, and together made a plan to make hiking/biking trails.  Pretty cool.  So, all the propganda materials for the trails say to visit BikeSpiritLake.com for info, however at the date of this writing, that link does not work.  Your best info source is from the Spirit Lake Chamber website.  There is also a Bike Spirit Lake group FB page, where you can post your selfies and such.  OK, so now you got some info.  Next I will walk you through the steps to get to riding the dirt...


 First, visit Miller's Harvest Foods or the IEP Gate to get a Day Pass (only $2.50 per person per day).  I recommend Miller's as it is right on the way, and you can grab a trail map and some snacks.  OK, now you have your Day Pass, snacks and a map.  Head across Mill Pond on Spirit Lake Road for approx 4 miles and look for small orange sign on right that says Empire Trails Parking (or something similar).  There you will meet the nice man pictured above, or someone in his place, that will verify you have a Day Pass and check you in (there is also a self check in box if it is after hours).
 After all that, you should find yourself on the awesome map board and then hit the trails.
very nice bridges...and water for dogs




Those pics don't really do the views or trails justice.  There are some very nice viewpoints.  Oh, and the trails are great!  We rode all 5 trails in the West Lake out and back, and had just over 7 miles.  You know I like rocks and these trails had a surprising amount of fun rocks to ride.  Great ups and great downs, we logged just under 1K elevation for the day.  Oh, and tight trees, one trail is called Pin Ball for reasons you will discover.  Most all these trails are freshly built and will take some time to burn in.  What is the best way to do that?  Ride them.  So, go do your part.

One last thing, they ask you to patronize local merchants that support the trails, we hit up one, The White Horse Saloon and Hotel, which had a great patio with ice cold pitchers and damn fine gravy fries.

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