A Guide to Pocatello Mountain Bike Trails

By Bruce Black

Maps by Naomi House.
Illustration (above) by JoLynn Howell
Published by the Idaho State University Outdoor Program, Pocatello, ID
 
(c) Copyright 1993, Idaho State University Outdoor Program.  You are welcome to provide links to this page or to use short quotes and paraphrases in other documents as long as you appropriately credit the author and source.  If you wish to publish extensive parts, or all, of it, please obtain advanced written permission from the ISU Outdoor Program.  Thanks!

Introduction

This small guide was developed in response to the many people who called or came into the Idaho State University Outdoor Program Office to ask where they could go mountain biking.  We admit that this isn't the most detailed or comprehensive guide but it should help you get started on a sampling of the many fine rides in the area.

The public lands surrounding the Pocatello valley are literally crisscrossed with a network of mountain bike trails.  It isn't an exaggeration when we say that the riding here is outstanding.  There is something for everyone.  We have had riders from throughout the United States come on our common adventure rides and nearly all say that Pocatello trails are among the best they have ever been on.  A recent magazine article seconds that opinion, describing the Pocatello area as a little known mountain biking paradise.  Terrain ranges from mild jeep roads to technical single tracks.  You can meander across sage covered benches, dart through cedar covered hills, and coast beneath the sweeping boughs of grand old firs and pines.

This guide is best used in combination with Mike Sullivan's Pocatello Area Trail Map.  This exhaustive map is available at Pocatello Sporting Good Stores or at the ISU Outdoor Program.  We encourage all riders to obey all posted signs and to take care of our environment.  Please pack out all your trash and stay on the established trails.  To be certain you are riding on trails and roads that are open to mechanized travel it is advisable to obtain a Travel Plan Map from the Forest Service.  This map is available for free.  Just stop by the Federal Building located at 250 South 4th, room #187, Pocatello.
 

General Information On The Maps In This Guide

This guide is divided into six parts which correspond to six major riding areas.  To help you find the trailhead, an overview map of the entire Pocatello area is located below.  The detailed maps included with the write-ups of the riding areas give you a general idea of where the trail goes.  While these maps will assist you in getting started you'll probably want to have a copy of Mike Sullivan's Pocatello Area Trail Map or detailed topographic maps for the best route finding.
 


 

1.  Trail Creek & Howard Mountain Area

CAUTION: SOME AREAS ARE SHOOTING RANGES.

This area is a good place to ride in cooler weather or when time is short.     To get to it, drive from Old Downtown Pocatello north on Main Street to Carson Street.  Turn left on Carson and head west to Raymond Park.  Keep heading west over the Portneuf River and up Trail Creek Road. (Carson ends at the bridge where there is a big intersection of streets and then the name changes to Trail Creek).  Follow Trail Creek to Foothill.  Turn north (right) and follow Foothill for three blocks.  You should be at the top of Ravine and the bottom of Trail Creek Road.  Head up Trail Creek to the top, park, get out your bike, and enjoy.

The map below is somewhat vague.  This is because the trails go everywhere, crisscrossing each other.  Trying to explain how to stay on a given route is madness so just go explore this area.
 Having said this, there is one particular trail that should be mentioned.  Just south of the Trail Creek road is a drainage that has a nice jeep road ride.  The drainage was the site of a fire in 1992 so the trees are all charred.  To get on the trail, park your vehicle just past the last home in the school bus turn-out.  Ride up the road and watch for a spur road heading to the left through a fence. Follow the spur road which eventually turns into a cow trail near the top.  This alternate route is a popular ride that is out of the way of shooters.

2.   City Creek, Kinport Mountain, and Cusick Creek:

If you are starting from the ISU campus, you can get to this area by following Fifth Avenue north, which is a one way road.  Turn left on Benton two to three blocks from campus.  Drive west on Benton Street until reaching South Grant.  Turn south (left) on South Grant until you come to an L.D.S. Church.  Just to the east of the church is a small park  (Centennial Park) where riders can park and fill water bottles.  The City Creek trail head is south of the L.D.S. Church just beyond the chain link fence.

Begin the ride by following the trail along the City Creek riparian zone.  You'll be heading in a westerly direction working your way up to the base of Kinport Mt.  The trail is a great single track and used frequently by other riders.  Some sections of the trail offer technical riding avoiding roots, rocks, and worn shoulders.  At times it pops out onto a gravel road, but just look for places to get back on the single track in the trees.  About a mile and a half up the trail there is an intersection.  Turn south to go up Kinport via Cusick Creek, the next drainage south of City Creek, or keep heading west to climb Kinport via City Creek.  Turn north to get on the City Creek gravel road.  Cusick Creek is a narrow service road which is more like two parallel single tracks.  The route is somewhat rocky and steep in places.  The scenery is great especially as you near the top of Kinport.

City Creek is a mix of single track and dirt road.  Around a mile after the intersection the single track darts out onto the City Creek road.  By this time the road is dirt and nice to ride on.  When the road starts to switch back out of the City Creek drainage, you can either head up the road to summit Kinport or stay in the drainage following the creek along a nice single track.  Eventually the trail diminishes.  Turn around and enjoy the descent.  In the higher elevations of City Creek you get into some beautiful pines and aspens.  The trails are fairly smooth with occasional interuptions of rocks.
 

 

3.  Slate Mountain

The Slate Mountain ride can be approached from two different accesses.  One access starts at Gibson Jack Road.  The other--and recommended access--starts at the Bannock Guard Station.  On Outdoor Program trips we often run a shuttle by parking a car at Juniper Hills Country Club and hauling everyone up to the Bannock Guard Station access.

Finding either of the two trail heads can be a tricky endeavor.  To get to the Gibson Jack access drive towards Scout Mountain by following Bannock Highway.  Across from the entrance to the Juniper Hills Country Club is Gibson Jack Road.  This is approximately four miles out of town.  Follow Gibson Jack until the road ends.  Park and ride following the single track that heads south (right of the parking area).  Cross Gibson Jack Creek and ride up a series of switchbacks out of the drainage.  This trail will eventually take you to a point just north of the Bannock Guard Station.  From here you can ride back on Bannock Highway to Gibson Jack and your vehicle.

To start at the Bannock Guard Station keep driving up Bannock Highway past the Scout Mountain turn-off (Fuzy Tree Farm).  About 100 to 200 yards past the Fuzy Tree Farm intersection is a hard to see dirt road dropping off to the right (north) of the road.  The road is narrow and tall weeds and brush conceal it until you are right next to it.  Turn down this road, cross Mink Creek, and park.  The trail leads up a drainage then switches back up and out onto a ridge heading northwest towards Gibson Jack.

This ride is a challenging piece of trail.  The climb is steep and somewhat technical, and the descent is fast. It alternates from open ridges and vegetated draws.  In places, the trail is worn away and tends to suck a tire off, sometimes throwing a rider.  Don't let it scare you. This ride is excellent.


 

4.  Valve House

To reach Valve House, drive four miles south of Pocatello on Bannock Highway towards Scout Mountain.   Four miles past the turnoff to Scout Mountain is a small low building on the east side of the road.  A couple hundred feet further up the road on the west side is a parking area.  This parking area is the trail head for West Fork and is the place to park for the Valve House ride.

The trail head for Valve House is on the east side of the Bannock Highway and begins beside a small building.  Valve House is a cruise as it follows a fairly smooth jeep road.  A loop can be made by dropping west off of the Valve House trail on a single track which connects with South Fork road.  The single track can be hard to find but it is well worth the effort.  Look for it when the climb up Valve House eases up and you start to descend.  In this area, you will pass through a fence (this should be the second fence). About 100 yards down the trail from the fence, a drainage drops to your right.  A single track descends into this drainage, follows it for a while, then climbs out of it and drops into another eventually making its way to the South Fork Road.

The single track is a downhill run and fun as can be.  The scenery is excellent, if you take the time to slow down and see it.  The trail is well traveled so you shouldn't get lost.  Once on the South Fork, you can follow it back to Bannock Highway and return to your vehicle.

5.  Corral Creek

Corral Creek is located in the Scout Mountain area.  To reach it, drive out on Bannock Highway.  One mile past the West Fork of Mink Creek, look for the South Fork turn off.  Just a few feet further on Bannock Highway, a parking lot is on the right.  Park here.

The Corral Creek trail leads west from the parking area, climbing up a drainage lined with trees.  Eventually it connects with the Clifton Creek trail.  From here, several loops are possible, either by heading south towards Crystal Summit or north towards the West Fork of Mink Creek.  The Corral Creek trail is challenging, offering a good climb with technical areas.

5.  Porcelain Pot

 
Just beyond Corral Creek, along Bannock Highway, there are two pull-out parking areas on the west (right) side of Bannock Highway. These small parking areas mark the trail heads for the Porcelain Pot Trail System.  The trail system was cleared by the Caribou National Forest for cross-country skiing, but works well for summer mountain biking.  The Porcelain Pot trails have a variety of terrain for every level of rider.
 

 

6.  Highland Area

To get to the trails in this area, drive to Pocatello Creek Road.  (It can be reached by taking the Pocatello Creek Exit of Interstate 15.)  Once on Pocatello Creek turn north (left) on Olympus, and drive to Butte.  Turn right (east) on Butte.  Follow Butte to the end.  At the end of Butte there is a small dirt road leading north and south behind the houses.  By heading south on this road, you will find a myriad of jeep roads.  Explore this area and have fun.

The trails in this area range from smooth 4x4 roads, which resemble parallel single tracks, to rocky, rutted-out hill climbs.  The rides mix quick descents with short hill climbs.  This area is great in cool weather or when you need a quick mountain biking fix.


 

Other Resources

Another great reference for mountain biking in the Pocatello area is:  Idaho Mountain Biking.  This web site includes trails for Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Sun Valley, Boise and North Idaho along with lots of helpful hints on riding.

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