Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Priest Lake Fat Bike Report

Spent a couple days up at Priest Lake for New Years.  And I was able to sneak away from the family for a bit to hit some trails with the fat bike.  
Now, if you are unfamiliar with riding at Priest, or even if you are, you should get a "Winter Recreation Map."  It will set you back $3 whole dollars.  I always hit up the Tamrak Shopping Village for a map, a Nordic Pass and refreshments...it is in the town of Priest Lake off Hwy #57.  This map will tell you all the groomed and ungroomed snowmobile trails around Priest lake, all 400 some miles of them.  It will also give you all the Nordic Trails in the area (you will need that pass to park at the Nordic trailheads).  With the map in hand, you can go the "Fat Bike Opportunities/Resources Page" at the top of this blog and click the associated links for the latest grooming reports to plot your course.
So, first I hit the Lakeshore Trail.  FS Rd #2512 (the road that goes up to Beaver Creek CG) is only plowed to about a half mile before the trailhead.  From that point forward, it is a groomed snowmobile trail and makes for a great 8 mile ride up to Beaver.  The Lakeshore Trail, as many of our local trails, has gotten a fair amount of use and packing from snowshoes and xc skiers...I think I was the first fatbiker.  Anyways, I was able to ride about 2 miles in on the trail, to the first beach campsite.  That is where most everyone before me had turned around.  The trails was in great shape, except for a few down trees, and I was able to clear the whole thing.  Riding that trail covered in snow with the lake along my side was an amazing experience.  I don't know how many times I have mountain biked that trail in the summer (dozens), but this was totally a different experience.  I recommend you hit it before walkers, warm temps and/or a big dump come and take it away.  Warning, it takes some good skills to stay on the slippery, narrow tread and those with the fatest (4.8" tires) setups will have the best time.

campsite view where I turned around
random trailside pic
The snowmobile trails were also in great shape for riding, and you can log more miles than daylight at Priest riding them.  Remember to keep an ear for sleds and move as far off trail as possible when they are passing.  Wear a bright color or a taillight for some extra visibility.  I will say that I rarely encounter that many snowmobiles when I ride their groomed trails.  I suspect that they mostly use these groomed trails as an easy avenue to get up to the high country and that is where they spend most of their time.  Anyways, sled riders have always been nice to me and are always curious about the bike.  Remember though, that their sled registration and membership dues pay to maintain those trails, Idaho however does not have an option for a fatbiker (or any other user) to pay into the grooming.  I hear that may be coming soon.  As for me, I pay snowmobile club membership just to feel like I have contributed what I can.

Lastly, I swung by the Hanna Flats Nordic area and the trails looked great and I wanted to hit them.  But family obligations called, until next time...

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