|| Light spills up and onto the branches of a tree at a campsite in Stanley, Idaho. This particular campsite is located at a hard-to-reach location on top of a hill. The hill overlooks the town of Stanley at night, and provides an incredible view of the Sawtooth mountains in the morning.
At night it’s easy to see the stars and pick out constellations. Salt Lake suffers from a massive amount of light pollution, and traveling to a place like Stanley drives that point home in spades. During the fall it can be downright frigid at night. Take a zero degree sleeping bag, a warm hat, and a down jacket. You’ll need all three.
High fire danger had skunked our campfire dreams all summer, until the ban was lifted the previous week. We built a toasty fire, heated some soup, and swapped stories until it was too late to think about anything other than bed. Although it might be different for some, I sleep like a rock when I’m camping. Back home there’s just too many distractions, but in a tent it’s just you and your heavy eyes. ||
|| Although I picked the spot and did the riding, I have to give the shutter props to photographer Re Wikstrom. Re snagged this photograph while we were ripping along the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. Although the trail starts in a mass of volcano rock, it slowly snakes its way down to the river.
Despite the fact that you shuttle this trail (drive to the top, leave a car at the bottom), there’s lots of pedal time. A downhill bike would be fun for a few sections, but a mid-travel trail bike is definitely the way to go. My Santa Cruz Heckler held its own* through twisty forest sections, slick roots, and the technical bits of rock at the beginning.
No one mentions the bridges you have to cross during this ride. Some are wide enough to ride across, some have railings on both sides, and some are so skinny your bars barely creep through from start to finish. The rhythm goes: ride, ride, ride, pedal, pedal, pedal, StairMaster, and repeat.
Ride this trail, it’s one for the bucket list.||
And down came the rain. Sometimes you get lucky in Brian Head, and sometimes it just pours. According to the locals it had been raining since the first week in July, and this was simply a continuation. Shaun Raskin, Weston D, Re Wikstrom, and I rode for three days, through mud, cow turds, and across wet, slippery roots. Singletrack had turned to rutty ditches and fast, technical downhills turned into a two-wheel slip’n slide punctuated by trees.
The Location: Bunker Creek
Here Shaun and Weston pedal up a hill during a Bunker Creek shuttle ride. Later in the day we were treated to sun, just enough to turn the mud on our bikes to cement.
Want some beta on the area? Leave a comment.
|| The Dark Hollow and Bunker Creek trails ribbon through the forest above Brian Head, Utah. Drive to the top of the mountain, unload your bikes, pedal a few hundred vertical, and you’re treated to an hour of screaming-fast riding across well-traveled single track, rock gardens and roots that bite at your feet, and views that give you more than a moment of pause. Mud was the order of the day for this particular ride with photographer Re Wikstrom and riders Shaun Raskin and Weston Deutschlander. Our grins caked with mud and our bikes soaked, we skidded up to the shuttle truck at the bottom well after darkness fell. Two more days of riding to go, and it only rained more. ||
|| A Yeti, a Genius, a Jekyll, and a Kona went for a ride at Brian Head. Pictured here are the feet, bikes, and tires of Weston Deutschlander and Shaun Raskin on the trails outside Brian Head, Utah. Although you can’t see the mud in this particular photo, it was omnipresent during our trip. Once you’ve driven four hours and put in the time to park to trucks there’s no turning back, so we rode regardless of the weather. Fast, slick, and fun, it’s like playing in puddles for no good reason when you’re a kid. The best part is that it makes for some amazing photos.||
Ridges like this make the mountain biking in Brian Head, Utah truly amazing. Re Wikstrom, Shaun Raskin, Weston D., and I shuttled our bikes to the peak intersection of trails in Brian Head, and made lap after lap over a long weekend. Muddy mountain biking is fun (although we try to avoid it) but sunny moments like this are always nice when you’re shooting photos outside.
The singletrack in and around Brian Head is some of the best in Utah and also some of the least crowded. Places like Moab and Virgin get much more attention and far more coverage in statewide tourist marketing and venue selection but Brian Head has its own gems—not the least of which is a stop on the Utah Gravity Series of DH races.
Special thanks to the all of the locals and trail builders in the area who put in countless hours to make these trails so we all can ride them.
|| Here, a Santa Cruz Bullit downhill bike peers out through the blinds covering an apartment window. Sometimes your bicycle wants to get outside to play just as badly as you do. ||
|| Well-worn singletrack winds through a lush, green forest and among the old growth trees. During our road trip through Oregon, the McKenzie River trail was one of the many mountain bike trails that we rode. Riding all 26 miles of this trail takes time, tons of pedal strokes, and a ton of water.
Anyone with a bicycle should count this as a bucket-list destination. ||
|| I spotted this single, lonely tree standing tall just outside of our campsite in Stanley, Idaho. This site was just off the Nip Tuck road near town. Spring, summer, or fall, this part of Idaho has incredible mountain biking and rafting. Hot springs dot the landscape and serve as welcome relief after some of the longer rides in town.
Trails are rarely crowded, and when you do run into another group it’s only for a brief moment and a casual exchange. Stanley is worth visiting just for the breakfast in town at the Bakery and the stars you can see at night. ||