Rocky Canyon Road, Ada County, Idaho
3,000 ft of climbing
One white horse
Just outside of Boise Idaho, or maybe it’s just inside of Boise, there is an old stagecoach road. Saying “old stagecoach” is a bit like saying “old hag” or “big giant.” But it still sounds right. It will soon become clear that this is yet another piece extolling the virtues of Boise, Idaho. To Boisians it seems that every few months another magazine tells the world that Boise is the best place to live for fill in the blank. Why should Tenspeed Hero be any different? Especially considering one of the founding Heroes lives in Boise and the other grew up a few miles west.
Boise is a town that offers excellent outdoor access without ever having to start your car. In fact the fun part of this Rocky Canyon begins a mere couple of miles from downtown. You know you’re there when you see a yellow sign with the fateful words, “pavement ends.”
Sometimes that lack of pavement does not do much to effect your ride as you continue on hard-packed dirt. Other times the road vacillates between comforting hard pack and disconcerting soft sand. That sand will sneak up and push you and your bike over. The other common road material is gravel and if you choose to do the loop counterclockwise you may hit that gravel at high enough speeds to puncture your tire, or tires as happened to our great friend Jason Bauer. Jason is a bicycle mechanic. I will not say too much about how good he is because other fine Boise mechanics read this. I will add that Jason is a guy who, when I pat him on the back (ok, when I hug him), I wait until he turns said back and drop and do 25 push ups. He is strong.
On this day when Jason descended Rocky Canyon, he punctured many times. He punctured enough that we ran out of repair options and he tied his tube in a knot, put it back on the wheel, pumped it up, and rode the rest of the way home – probably 8 miles. MacGuyver.
Parts of this road will take you between walls of a canyon, a rocky canyon. There are small caves peppering its sheer walls. Excellent places to hide while you and your gang wait for an unsuspecting stagecoach to rob. Keep your eyes out for remnants of hand-painted signs from the days when this was a main route to Boise from historic Idaho City and points beyond.
The entire route between the “Pavement Ends” sign and highway 21, a short distance from where the pavement begins again, you will be accompanied by creeks – Robie Creek and Mores Creek. We find water to be one of the best companions for any outdoor activity/adventure.
When you reach the summit of Rocky Canyon Road, the ecosystem changes from sagebrush/desert to the lower reaches of a pine/fir forest.
Then it is all downhill from here, until it isn’t. There is plenty of climbing when you get to the highway a few miles ahead.
When you Get to the Robie Creek Fire department you will leave Rocky Canyon Road and turn right onto Robie creek. If you have any aluminum cans please drop them in the Cans 4 Kids cage.
You will soon see the point where Mores Creek does its best to help the Boise River fill Lucky Peak Reservoir. If you too are lucky and happen to ride this loop in the fall you will see bright red kokanee salmon in the creek.
When you see a horse ranch to your left, just over the creek, you know you are close to highway 21 and a long descent to the Boise River (after a long ascent).
Keep your eyes open for wildlife. Early spring to mid fall you will see Osprey like this pair on the entry gate to the horse ranch. There are also deer, elk and pronghorn along various sections.