Exploring Central Idaho's Mountains


Dirty Blonde
A fellow member, BoiseFJ, posted on here that he was going on an overland adventure visiting the Magruder Corridor (FS468) during the week of July 3-7. I was planning to visit Lower Hells Canyon during that time and thought central Idaho and higher elevations appealed so much more (since the Treasure Valley was regularly in the 108-113F range). I met BoiseFJ the night before we were to depart to help me fine tune my CB and acquaint each other before going on our multi-day trip.

I must say, there are some pretty darn awesome people on this forum that I have met and had great adventures. BoiseFJ told me that in addition to doing the Magruder Corridor, they were thinking of doing the Lolo Motorway (FS500) following the old Lewis and Clark trail. I was totally game for it and agreed.

Here is the intended route we (mostly) followed: http://goo.gl/maps/zacq4

Here are informative links about the Magruder Corridor:
LINK 1: USDA Nez Perce NF
LINK 2: Adventurer's Journal
LINK 4: Detailed point of interest map

The X all packed up and ready to go

We started out in the morning of Weds 3 July 2013 and headed up Hwy 55/95 N to Graingeville, ID. Then headed over to Kamiah, ID to the start of the forest service roads to FS 500, i.e. the Lolo Motorway, and unload the motorbike (XT) of a fellow adventurer so that he can scope our routes ahead of us.

Driving along Hwy 95N past Riggins, ID:

Old Hwy 12 toward Kamiah (Solar yellow FJ heading toward Rapesweed(sp)):


Dirty Blonde
We made a wrong turn somewhere off of FS119 onto various other roads. We had to backtrack, which wasted a few hours, but at least the views were great. The dust was activating my allergies badly, so I pulled out my shemagh and eye drops.


We hit the deadend of FS5117...which annoyingly, FS500/Lolo was less than a half mile past the deadend over a creek (not fordable).

Rerouting our GPS/maps:

We finally made it to the start!!!


Dirty Blonde
FS500/Lolo Motorway at dusk:

We finally chose our camping spot after an exhausting long day of driving. Camped at Rocky Ridge Lake. It was too dark to take too many pics. We set up camp and ravenously ate/cooked dinner. Then played with the night vision goggles BoiseFJ brought.

Camp sweet camp:

The incessant buzzing of those flies that look like hornets woke me early the next morning. So I went for a hike around the lake to explore a bit:

There were these white flowers all over the place all along the trail of Lolo. Does anyone have any idea what they might be?

Time to get ready and GoPro it!


Dirty Blonde
Various scenic views along Lolo:

Hitching a ride back to his bike:

So many trees!

More of those white flowers:

One of the best overlooks we came across:

More pretty stuff:

You are here (~90mi trail, we're a little over half way through):

Even more pretty stuff:

Alpine lake at Indian Post Office location:

Abandoned skidoo snowmobile ~75mi in:


New member
I've said it before and I'll say it again. You guys out west have all the fun!!!! I might seriously consider a scenery change lol.

Awesome trip there along with great pictures. Can't wait to see the video!!!



Dirty Blonde
Good to see your over here now Mel. Looks like you had a great trip!
Haha, yeah I joined a bit ago but was not active all that much. I have so many more options of going on neat adventures on here than on the X forums.

Do it! Move west- so much to see and do...and most of it is FREE!

And now to continue...


Dirty Blonde
Video of best scenic overlook (should be in HD, but my computer sucks chunks):

GoPro from Dry camp (lunch) to when it ran out of battery power

When we neared the Montana part of the trail, we entered a few burn areas (there were some at the beginning as well in Idaho). Most of the trail went through forested areas on a ridgeline. It was kind of fun to be on the shelf road parts and then veer over and be on the opposite side of the mountain on the ridgeline. Overall, there were some minorly challenging parts of the trail-rocky sections. But nothing the FJ pulling a converted military trailer could not handle.

Montana burn area:

Here is a long and fairly boring video (21min) of the middle to latter section of the trail (from west to east), but it gives you an idea of how the road traverses forest and then becomes a shelf road on the ridgeline at times:

Our first day on the trail, we did not encounter a single person or vehicle at all once we got on dirt roads from Kamiah. On the second day, we first met some powerbikes and then an outdoor outfitter setting up camp. We totally forgot it was the 4th of July! The outfitter gave us his detailed FS map of the area and recommended some alternative routes back to pavement. We debated on taking the entire Lolo Motorway back to Hwy12 or taking an alternate route, FS104. We eventually chose to stay on the trail, which I later regretted. The last 5mi were pure thin light dust. It was nearly impossible to see ahead from the dust kicked up by the FJ. And to make matters even better, the Forest Service built up the road into these giant speed bumps. The kind that you drive up it, become airborne and your stomach drops. So, dust blindness, airborne speed bumps, tired of driving all day and trail drop offs = teh suck.


Dirty Blonde
We (thankfully) exited the trail near a Lochsa resort sort of thing along Hwy 12. All of us were pushing the limits on how much gas we had left. BoiseFJ brought about 25gal in a gravity fed pump. I had to use my hand siphon pump (woo Harbor Freight) with the help of Mark (XT rider). I was not willing to pay the $3.89/gal (87 octane) at the resort. We attempted to clean some of the dust off ourselves at the restrooms and headed toward Lolo, MT (where gas was substantially cheaper). Lolo, MT is where Hwy 12 (E/W) intersects with Hwy 93 (N/S). We then went S on Hwy 93 to Darby, MT and then headed W toward Conner, MT (the last town before Magruder). In all, we drove about 130mi on pavement that day. Yeck!

It was becoming dusk and we needed to find a spot to camp soon. We found the start of Magruder/FS468, which was a very nice flat graded dirt road. We pulled into a camp area (Fales Flats Group Campground), but seeing as it was the 4th, most were fairly full. This one was no different. There was a deaf Pomeranian I nearly ran over and had to yell at its owners to get out of the road. Things did not bode well for this camp site. We decided to move on.

Fun thing, the trail actually turns back onto pavement. A while ago, logging companies paved the road in hopes of turning the area into a logging mecca. It did not happen. The road was pathetically easy and very disappointing AND the sun was disappearing fast. We eventually camped at a horse hookup campground off the side of the road.

We then packed up, trying to avoid the masses of biting gnats. The road was once again dirt and once again SUPER easy to drive. Very flat and graded, the curvy parts were the only fun parts. The Ranger Station was closed (alas). Here is the sign for the turn on to the REAL trail:

Suddenly we were climbing and climbing and climbing....We climbed about 3,500'+ from down along the Selway River to way up top of the mountains. BEAUTIFUL!

Climbing! (my GoPro ran out of battery power and was still charging, so my regular camera video will have to do, which also means you get to listen to my music, too, hahaha!)

We were heading toward Red River/Elk City, ID. The vast majority of the trail is in a burn area. But even burn areas have their own beauty. The blackened trees had such green and lush-filled bases are new growth returned.

More white flower things!

Observation Point

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Forget Red River/Elk City. Don't miss the best river roads in Idaho. Drive up the North Fork of the Clearwater. Pierce,Id. to Superior, Mt. Then St. Regis, Mt. to St. Maries, Id. along the St. Joe river. Far better than the Magruder. Beautiful camping and better senery. :ylsmoke:


Dirty Blonde
Shortly after Observation Point, I got to a "T" in the road @Salmon Mtn Base. While I was reading the sign, a woman carrying a DeLorme mapbook of Idaho came up to me. The conversation went something like this:

Her: "Do you know where you are?"
Me: "Yes, pretty much."
Her: "Oh good. Are we here?" (she points to Granite Springs...about 30mi away)
Me: "Um, no. We are here" (points to Salmon Base Camp)
Her: "Oh. Where did you come from and where are you going?"
Me: (perplexed because there is only one entrance/exit to this trail) "We came from Montana. We are going to Elk City, ID"
Her: "Oh good. Can I just follow you?"
Me: (ohcrap) "Sure."
Her: (in passing) "You know, this road is so much rougher and harder than I thought it would be."
Me: "?!?!?!?!?!" --> everything you read about this trail warns you of the following:

"The Magruder Road (Forest Road #468) is a single-lane mostly unimproved road which is rocky, steep and winding, with few turnouts for passing oncoming vehicles. The road is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles, motor homes, or vehicles towing trailers. The video in POI #35 (Hell's Half Acre Lookout Road #224) shows typical road conditions that you may expect. The road traverses a vast, remote, and rugged area. Travelers should take adequate provisions and make sure their vehicles are in good condition. Don't run out of gas!"

I was floored by this woman. Luckily she was in an older gen Tacoma, which was more than capable of traversing the road. It was simply the driver that was not ready for it. OH well, she was going to be following BoiseFJ anyway, bwahahaha!

The road follows the ridgeline here as well. So at times, I was on one side of the valley and could see the road on the other side. Pretty cool stuff.
--> I captioned this one as "To all the men who dumped me or rejected me: you clearly were not ready for this level of awesome. :p"



And of course, standard show-off-your-rig shot:

We had lunch at Sabe Point. Confused lady decided to go on ahead....after we aired down her tires and I gave her all my reading material on Magruder. Before she left, we asked how much gas she had left. Her response: "Oh, about one-fourth of a tank." !?!?!?! We decided if we had to help her along the way, we were going to charge her for use of our gas. Idiot. She was trying to find a short cut from Montana to Portland, OR.

After lunch, the road smoothed out shortly there after. Smoothed out to the point I could go about 35mpg no problem. I hated it...a lot.

This was the road with all the hype about how hard it is and all the survival prep needed for it? Give me a break! Overall, all of us decided the road was a huge let down. Only the middle 14mi (of a 101mi trail) were fun/worth it. I have no desire to ever do Magruder ever again. Great scenery, glad I did it once. But never again. There were massive 5th wheels and RVs up here now. The brilliance of the feeling of being isolated was gone. Alas.

End of the road at Hwy222
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