— WHERE TO RIDE GUIDE —
In the December issue we brought you a test of Yamaha’s Magellan GPS unit. It has helped us discover a ton of new places to ride all over the country. After digging around through all the available trails in the system, we set out to explore an area we didn’t know existed before using the product. For comparison, on the Polaris Ride Command app, this area looks like it has only four wide forest roads running through it and nothing else. With the Yamaha product, it looks like a bowl of spaghetti noodles with a large number of trails sized perfectly for UTVs. Dirt bikes and ATVs have the same number of narrower trails, too.
Sitting on Idaho’s western border with Oregon, the Weiser Ranger District portion of Payette National Forest sits well away from any major city or even town. To get there, you would exit Interstate 84, 55 miles northwest of Boise, and travel north on Highway 95 up past Payette and Weiser. When you reach the town of Cambridge, take a left turn at the Y onto Highway 71. Just up on the left, we pulled onto NF Trail 008 (or Mill Creek). If you miss it, NF Trail 031 gets you into the area, too.
We explored the area in early July on a weekday, and there was not another off-roader in sight. The roads were not particularly challenging, but they were secluded and beautiful. We are sure hunting season is a different story. Lots of big game roam this mountain, and bird hunters will tell you there is a ton of chukar throughout. As you drive higher in the forest to one of the peaks—Sturgill or Hitt—you can look back on to the plains of southern Idaho. Keep heading west and you can wander the forest roads or descend down to the shores of the Snake River. Don’t expect to see anyone down on the shoreline, as the only easy way into it is by water on the Brownlee Reservoir or miles of dirt roads. There is a destination that may or may not be open called Mountain Man Lodge along the water if you need to cool off in the summer or warm up in the winter. On top of the mountain, a great destination is Paradise Campground.
In total, the Payette National Forest has over 2.1 million acres to explore. This section is probably 15 percent of it and is just as beautiful without being so remote. If your summer plans take you near this area, check it out and don’t forget to use Yamaha’s Adventure Pro from www.shopyamaha.com if you need help finding it.