In this edition of Ride My Domain, Matt Vielle and I head to the shores of beautiful Payette Lake to check out McCall, Idaho. Next to the vast Frank Church Wilderness of No Return and boasting the largest roadless area in the continental U.S, McCall doesn't disappoint. Mountain biking opportunities seem endless, with two local ski areas offering bike trails, endless Forest Service trails and the great trail system out at Jug Mountain Ranch just south of town. Last but not least, IMBA designated EPIC RIDE at Loon Lake Trail just 45 minutes from town is a trail not to be missed for scenic backcountry rides. With all these options we didn't know where to start so we searched out the locals to take us to their favorite spots.
First things first, thanks to David Carey of Hotel McCall where we were fortunate to have a room downtown McCall with the beach a short block away. Our room was beautiful, with a full living room and kitchen which made our stay extra comfy. We highly recommend Hotel McCall’s restaurant, Rupert's, where we ate quail while looking out on Payette Lake, and felt very spoiled indeed. Because of the location and Hotel McCall’s popularity, we recommend you book a month or more in advance to make sure you get the dates you want. Don’t be intimidated though; if you are looking for more rustic, aka free accommodations, there are plenty of great campsites to be had nearby.
We then hooked up with Gravity Sports Bike Shop, also located in downtown McCall, which is owned by Michelle and Scott Reagan. They were super cool and took us under their wing and showed us all McCall had to offer the biking enthusiast. As the most popular bike shop in town, they are involved in supporting the local bike community and ensuring no biker should go without. They offer a full line of bikes for any type of riding as well as SUP rentals for the lake enthusiasts.
Our first stop was a short 10 minute drive south of McCall where we were greeted by David Carey, the general manager, at the 1400 acre Jug Mountain Ranch. Their private trail system is open to the public and is free for anyone to ride, and happily sits just above their clubhouse where you can ride from trail directly to the bar and restaurant. Jug Mountain Ranch has over 600 vertical feet of climb and approximately 30 miles of trails for any type of riding. David picked us up in his Unimog, and we were off to the top of the mountain. The Unimog, or UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät, is a Mercedes-Benz utility truck and has to be seen to be believed. It’s almost worth it to come out to the ranch just to ride up the mountain in it. This beast can fit 12 bikes and riders, and climb up and over anything that may be in the road. On the way up we were introduced to local riders Joe Weede, Heather Thiery, Jeremy McGlathery and Michelle Reagan who all had a hand in helping build the trails. It was the perfect crew to show us around the ranch. Matt and I found the trails to have a good mix of full speed DH, Freeride and all mountain trails and could see why the local CIMBA club holds events here like the Wild Rockies CX Mountain Bike Race and Trail Run. The trails are set in a beautiful Ponderosa pine forest with lots of granite outcrops which always add to the fun. After a full day at Jug we realized we still wanted more and with all the great riding, great lunch and ice cold beers at the clubhouse we were super stoked to have found out about this place. If, unlike us, you want to stay for more than a weekend and you have the money for that second home to fulfill your mountain biking dream, the ranch also has home sites for sale, and, oh yeah, a beautiful golf course.
Day two and we we’re across the street meeting the crew at Gravity and heading out with Gravity Sports riders Joe Weede the lead mechanic at the shop and Dalton Bradshaw a 14 Yr. old local ripper. After talking with marketing director Jared Montague, we were anxious to check out Brundage Mountain Resort just north of McCall. Brundage has 1800 ft. of quad access bike trails and have been putting a lot of effort into developing their mountain bike trails recently. We first drop into the recently reworked Hidden Valley trail rolling full DH bikes, with a fast and rocky start heading into huge cliff bands and boulder fields, we were stoked to see the gnar this place had to offer. The trail continued to be a great mix of rocky ledges and drops with wooden features and booters, and really represented what Brundage DH is all about. We also loved the sweet 7 mile long Elk trail, a great all-mountain trail, that doesn't have much peddling if you’re on the right bike. Exhausted after many laps we were ready to catch some tunes at the annual Ida-Ho-Down Music fest, another awesome McCall event. A good ending to another killer day!
Overall, we checked out some great places in McCall and barely scratched the surface of possibilities. Fortunately, on the way out of town we were able to squeeze in one last ride; Goose Creek trail just north of town. We met up with David and the folks from Gravity again but this time David bought his Pinzgauer, a 6 wheeled British military-utility vehicle that can also hold 12 riders and bikes. With another crazy sweet ride we’re off to the trailhead. Goose is a flowy all-mountain trail following, you guessed it, Goose Creek for approximately 5 miles. An 80 ft waterfall with a steep gnarly trail along the way enhances lots of super smooth sections broken up by short climbs and gnarly tech work; we loved it. If you keep your eyes peeled there are even some nice steep slabs to hit up. Needless to say, a perfect backcountry experience to end our trip. After our short stay in McCall we are fully impressed with the local hospitality and the epic terrain around the valley. Be assured there are more visits to follow! Cheers!www.hotelmccall.comwww.jugmountainranch.comwww.gravitysportsidaho.comwww.brundage.comThanks to Our Sponsors!www.smithoptics.comwww.ridegravity.comwww.terrasportsinc.comwww.pinkbike.com