Boise to Montour

Well, the weather finally cooperated this weekend and we were able to complete our Boise-Montour-Boise overnight bike trip. We were attempting to find a passage over the foothills without traveling on the main highways. That didn’t exactly work out, but the adventure and the exploration were really the main point.

Montour Bureau of Reclamation campground

The timing couldn’t have been better. It had been a difficult week and the combination of work-a-day events and everyday average life events were beginning to feel oppressive. Funny how halfway through our first day of the trip, the thought patterns in the brain were beginning to be a little bit more objective and coherent. Such is the power of getting out on the bike!

Just after the road turns to dirt and just before it becomes Pearl Road

Eagle Road becomes Willow Creek road as one travels north from Eagle and about 17 miles from our front door it turns into dirt. A fairly well maintained dirt road which goes basically straight up for the next 8 miles, and becomes Pearl Road along the way. We were watching for a road which, according to Google Maps, veered off to the left shortly after the abandoned mining town of Pearl and wound back down towards Montour.

Where's Sky King?

We never saw this alleged road and finally ended up on Highway 55 just outside of Horseshoe Bend. Dropping down into Horseshoe Bend on the old highway and then about 11 miles on scenic highway 52 along the Payette River brought us to Montour. About 10 miles more than we had planned on, and the 47 total miles for the day took us almost 5 hours to ride. Luckily, we were able to replenish our carbohydrates and spirits at the general store! 

Can you spot the bike touring dietary supplement?

Being so replenished, and having set up the hammocks, we proceeded to cook our pasta primavera and to enjoy the sunny windless evening, with mosquitoes. Sitting in the sun and reading, we could have been anywhere ... Texas, California or Croatia, and yet we were only a few hours from home.

Dual Hennessy Hammocks

The next morning we decided to take the dirt road on the north side of the river into Emmett instead of taking the main highway. According to the campground host, the road was well maintained with little loose gravel and only one climb. Never listen to a cigarette smoking diesel pickup driving campground host. I’m sure the road is a piece of cake driving the pickup home from the bar in Emmett. It’s just that the climbs were numerous and sharp, and the washboard effect was in place on most of them ... heck of a way to start the day.

After a big breakfast in Emmett, the ride up Old Freezeout hill and then on Highway 16 back into town was relatively uneventful. And so, with just a little bit of planning and just a little over 24 hours, we were able to get away for a little adventure, recharge and come back raring to go and ready for the next kick in the teeth.

Another successful adventure

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Don't forget the mosquito repellant. The Bureau of Reclamation does not spray here and these are wetlands at the tail end of Black Canyon reservoir. Favorite local bike shop: Bike Touring News 

6 responses so far ↓

Peter R - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Looks like a fun trip. Like the idea of the Hammocks!

db - Nov 15, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Thanks for the trip report. Always looking for ideas for short trips out of Boise...

Richard Eborn - Jun 2, 2012 at 3:12 AM

I believe you have given me my next biking adventure out of Boise. Thank you for sharing. Richard

Betsy - Jul 4, 2013 at 11:49 PM

I've made day trips from Boise to Emmett several times (well, I start at Eagle Middle School to save a few miles) going up Hwy 16 and have seen the sign for the road to Pearl. Would you really recommend this dirt road for a road bike?

Bike Hermit - Jul 5, 2013 at 8:15 AM

I have only ever done it on my road bike.....but with tires sized 700 x 32. The road surface is hard packed dirt in some sections, loose gravel with washboard in other sections. Chris Kostman at xo-1 dot org encourages "ANY BIKE, ANYWHERE"

Anthony Coley - Aug 14, 2013 at 9:52 AM


I just heard about the Montour Campground yesterday while visiting the folks at Bike Touring News, so I thought for my Tuesday night ride I'd head out towards Montour Campground to check out the ride before I attempt a bikepacking trip. I rode from Eagle out Willow Creek to Pearl, up Sand Hollow Road to the Johnson Creek intersection. This is the highest point of the ride and when starting on Johnson Creek rd. it's all down hill to Shalerock Rd, which puts you very near the campground. I stopped and chatted with a local on Sand Hollow rd. and he said the lower section of Johnson Creek rd. is very rough and rocky. He also said from the top of Johnson Creek rd. it's about 3'ish miles down to Shalerock rd.

This was a really nice ride. I saw lots of deer and not many cars. Once one dirt the road is mostly maintained, but it's definitely sandy/gravel with lots of washboard sections. I rode my Surly Ogre with 29x2.3" tires. Personally, I wouldn't want to ride it with anything much smaller than a 2" tire due to the gravel and washboards. I have some Schwalbe Mondails ( 700 x 40C ) and I love them on the road, but for this route they'd be a no-go for me...

Here's my route:

Leave a Comment

Leave this field empty