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Bridge to Heaven

By oldnut - Posted on 07 September 2010

For the last two years I have had the opportunity to ride North Idaho with my brother-in-law and his sons.  We've covered the Magruder, Lolo Trail, Kelly Creek and the Hiawatha Tunnels and Tressles near Avery.  I enjoy tagging along as their riding skills, pleasant company and extensive knowledge of the area makes for few "surprises" when we ride together.  I had told them of the IAMC Challenge and what fun I was having collecting sites and seeing long neglected areas of my state and that I needed to collect sites to put me into "Gold Knobby" range.  So, this year when the route of our annual North Idaho ride was discussed the obvious choice would be to "help" oldnut  with his collection.  My other brother-in-law has a KLR too and wished to join us this year to enjoy the sites as well. 

In Boise I picked up B2 (brother-in-law 2) Thursday at 1 pm. and we trailered the KLRs to Lewiston where we spent the night with B1 (brother-in-law 1) and my wife's sister who greeted us with a steak dinner when we arrived .  We left Friday @ 7:30 am. and rode Highway 12 to Orofino, then Wells Bench Road to Dent Bridge, site 39, for photo ops.

  Li'l Kawkroach on the north side of Dent Bridge.

Chinese Hanging Tree Historical Marker was our next site and our plan was to ride Johnson Mill Road and Grangemont Road to Hollywood then turn south to Pierce.  However, the Grangemont Road was under construction and we were forced to return to Orofino or take a chance and turn onto Cow Creek Road then east toward Jaype.  We took the chance and got just a little lost but got to Jaype after a minor set-back.  We rode through Pierce to the Hanging Tree Marker, got our photo ops and returned to Pierce for lunch at the "VUG" restaurant (great food) and took andvantage of the fill up we would need to finish the day. 

  Li'l Kawkroach at Chinese Hanging, site 41.

We went south on Browns Creek Road to Musselshell then east on FS103 until it intersected FS500 a.k.a Lolo Motorway, a.k.a. Nez Perce Trail or Lewis and Clark Trail  at Beaver Dam Saddle.  The motorway was in good shape and had been rained on a day or 2 earlier making the passage almost dustless.

  Fantastic views to the south of the Lolo Motorway.

We arrived at the Indian Post Office Rock Cairns in late afternoon and after photo ops we headed back to FS107 to descend the canyon and intersect Highway 12 that follows the Lochsa River for our twilight ride to Kamiah and our nights lodging at Lewis and Clark Resort.  Highway 12 is a top destination for riders that like the twisties and the ride from Orofino to Lolo Hot Springs, Montana is one of the best rides in the west, maybe even the world.  After a filling dinner at the Sacajawea Cafe at the Resort we turned in.

     Indian Post Office, site 43.

Next morning we returned to the cafe for breakfast and after loading we filled up the KLRs and turned east on Hwy 12 riding the banks of the Middle Fork Clearwater River until we reached Kooskia, then rode along the South Fork Clearwater on Highway 13 until it turns toward Grangeville at the intersection with Highway 14.  Highway 14 closely follows the South Fork as it winds its way to Elk City.  The ride from Kooskia to Red River Ranger Station is an outstanding asphalt ride and I would reccommend it to anyone who enjoys great twisty asphalt with postcard views around every curve. 

  Li'l Kawkroach in Elk City, site 40.

At Elk City I made my site photo and we gassed at the one and only source.  Not knowing the distance to our next fueling opportunity we thought it best 'cause after all, "dual sport riders never pass gas ...".  

Li'l Kawkroach @ 14 Mile Tree, site 42.

From Elk City we back tracked to FS222 and rode along the Red River to just past the ranger station where the Magruder, FS468,  officially begins.  The Magruder was freshly maintained and the recently-rained-on road was undusty.  I soon had my site photo of the 14 Mile Tree Campground site sign.

We then began our descent to Highway 14 and backtracked to the Hungry Ridge Road Bridge turn off.  Hungry Ridge Road, FS309 took us south to the intersection with FS221 which is the Grangeville Salmon Road and is asphalt from Grangeville to about 15 miles north of Florence where it turns to gravel.  About 8 miles or so the turn off to Florence begins on FS394.  There you follow the signs to the cemetery.

  South Fork Clearwater River

B2 tries panning for nuggets.

B1 posing with new KLR.

   Hungry Ridge Road.

  Li'l Kawkroach @ Florence Cemetery, site 34.

     Grave headboards tell their stories.

At the Florence Cemetery we made photos, pondered our mortality and began our way back on FS221 to FS243 a.k.a. Heckman Road on Free Use Ridge.  FS243 is an amazing bit of road work.  It descends rapidly but with very few curves and switchbacks.  The panoramas of the adjacent canyons are spectacular.

B2 and nephew admire the view.

At Whitebird we travelled up old US 95 on historic Old Whitebird Hill south face and continued on the Old Whitebird north side .  The north side is a great short ride on the old highway that not many get a chance to ride.  It's got several sweeping high banked curves that suck you right down on the seat at speed.  After a sandwich stop and gas-up in Grangeville we began the ride to Lewiston on Hwy. 95 arriving at dark.

View of Whitebird ridges from top of Old Whitebird Hill Road.

Sunday B2 and I said our goodbyes and headed back to Boise arriving in Riggins near noon.  We unloaded the KLRs and rode FS517 to Windy Saddle and Heavens Gate for the site photo and hiked the 350 yards to the Lookout.  The wind was blowing about 30-35 mph and when we met scottb he said the ranger had told him that the wind chill was 26ºF!  Man was it cold!  After the trip down we loaded the KLRs and began the rest of the uneventful trip home.

360º of Windy Saddle.

View of Riggins and Salmon River Canyon.

Three states view looking north.  One can see Oregon, Washington and of course, Idaho.

B2 at lookout.  It was cold thus helmet.

Site 4, Li'l Kawkroach and oldnut ready to call it a day.

Thanks to B1 and B2 and to my favorite nephew for a great memorable trip and for helping with the site collection.  All that fun and nobody go hurt!

GPS said distance was 625 miles and saddle time was 17:49 hours not counting trailer time.



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