With Idaho’s mountainous terrain and thousands of trails, this state is a real hot spot for people seeking single track. When I think of Idaho mountain biking it used to be, Sun Valley, McCall, and the Boise foothills that came to mind. But there’s one overlooked city in Southeast Idaho that really surprised me on our recent travels. Where the biking community has built an impressive self regulated trail system in their vast foothills. And after a day of riding these hills, I’ll be recommending them to whoever asks me about great Idaho mountain biking.
Pocatello. Yep, that Pocatello. The city that famously passed an ordinance making it illegal not to smile. In 1948 George Phillips the mayor of Pocatello passed this ordinance because the city’s spirit had been dampened by a particularly harsh winter that year. Pocatello is usually a through town for travelers, but if you have a few days we definitely recommend exploring the trails above the city. We didn’t have a few days though so we needed a boost. We heard these trails were e-bike friendly so we swung by Barries Ski and Sports and rented a few.
In Boise where Chad and I live, we have the Ridge to Rivers trail system in our foothills. Hiking through these trails you will notice a lot of signs prohibiting e-bikes. Probably due to the high amount of dog and foot traffic. Hell, I don’t think an e-bike would even be fun in Boise. You’d always be stopping, never comfortable to let loose. The City Creek trail system in Pocatello felt much different. Yes, the trail system is open to hikers. And I’m not gonna sit here and say don’t worry about people, of course you need to be cautious and careful. But Chad and I rode upper and lower city creek and we were flying! We passed no hikers on our day of riding and saw a couple other people on e-bikes. It seemed like Pocatello was much more electric friendly than the other cities I mentioned before.
We stopped on the trail and talked to one Pocatello resident riding his pedal assist on City Creek. Chad asked him point blank, “Don’t you feel like you’re cheating using a motor?” The gentleman’s reply, “Who cares?” I agree sir. That pedal assist when riding up those steeper grades was freaking awesome! Though I will admit that I lost control a couple times going around some tight corners on the downhill sections.
Finding City Creek is very easy. Signs are everywhere and in less than ten minutes you can go from downtown to the trailhead. We took Lincoln Avenue to City Creek Road and found the trail no problem. The real navigation challenge is once you get to the trailhead. Upper and Lower City Creek are the most popular trails and although we didn’t see too many people we have been told those trails can get pretty busy during a sunny summer weekend. Not to worry though, there are miles upon miles upon more miles of trails to get away from the crowds. Approximately 50 miles to be more specific. And in those 50 miles you’ll find beginner, intermediate, and difficult trails to ride. Part of the fun is exploring these hills, but you definitely need a map if you’re not familiar with the trail system. That’s why I added a link to a pdf map you can print out before your travels at the bottom of this article.
Pocatello doesn’t seem like a vacation spot or weekend getaway, but people may not know or forget that this area of Idaho has so much outdoor adventure you can explore. There’s American Falls Reservoir, Lava Hot Springs, and Massacre Rocks State Park all within an hour of Pocatello and you can find cheap lodging and meals in the city. A bike riding adventure in Pocatello makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway for you or the entire family.
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