“The guides have been all exceedingly friendly, helpful, and genuinely fun to be around, especially to my son, whose first question upon returning home is always, "Where are we going next year?" ”
Lewis and Clark Lolo Trail
- Jul 22, 2013 - Jul 26, 2013
- Jul 29, 2013 - Aug 2, 2013
- Aug 5, 2013 - Aug 9, 2013
- Aug 12, 2013 - Aug 16, 2013
On September 14, 1805 Lewis and Clark reached the Bitterroot Mountains west of Lolo Pass on the border of what is now Montana and Idaho.
Up until this time, most of their journey had been on the Missouri River and they were anxious to get through the mountains and on to the Columbia River before the winter. The going was rough and on September 15th Captain William Clark wrote, “From this mountain I could observe high rugged mountains in every direction as far as I could see.” If their courage was ever daunted, it might have been here.
In the 1930s a road was built through the region where Lewis and Clark traveled and signs were erected at many of their camps. Our trip takes us through this remote country, much of which is little changed since their visit 200 years ago. The doubletrack road rolls along the ridge top constantly climbing or descending. The riding is fun and non-technical, climbs provide a good challenge each day and there are many points of interest along the way.
Each night we will read a portion of Lewis and Clark’s journals and present a variety of interpretive programs created to help us understand all about this famous journey. Need more details? Give us a call at 800-845-2453. We’ll help answer all your questions about this spectacular trip.
Western Spirit Cycling Adventures specializes in guided bike trips, both mountain and road. Whether you are looking for supported tours on singletrack, doubletrack or road you can use our trip finder page to discover your perfect biking experience. This Lewis and Clark tour is an intermediate 5-day guided mountain bike trip in Idaho.
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Lewis and Clark Lolo Trail Itinerary
MEETING TIME AND PLACE
This trip meets at 8:00am MST at Big Sky Cyclery, 1110 South Avenue West, Missoula, Montana, 406-543-3331. You will need to spend the night before in Missoula.
ENDING TIME AND PLACE
We will return to the bike shop in Missoula between 4:00-5:00 pm on the last day.
TRIP DAY 1
Listed as Outside Magazine's Top 25 Trips of a Lifetime, this historic mountain bike trip begins in Missoula, Montana. We begin by shuttling west over Lolo Pass along the same route taken by Lewis and Clark in September of 1805. Just over the pass, at the Powell Ranger Station, we head north to the Lolo Trail. This is the place where the Corps of Discovery entered the most mountainous part of their trip. As they entered the gentle foothills, they hoped to cross quickly to the westward slope on their way to the Pacific. Yet their hopes were dashed as Clark wrote on September 15th, "From this mountain I could observe high rugged mountains in every direction as far as I could see." This is where our trip begins. In the 1930's the forest service constructed a single lane road along the ridge top which Lewis and Clark traversed through the Bitterroot Mountains. It is one of the few places that looks today much as it did then, and one of the best ways to see the world through their eyes is to mountain bike on the Lolo Motorway. While the road is rarely technical, the riding is challenging, fast, and rolling. Don't be fooled by the low mileage days, the cumulative climbs will result in a serious work out. Day one begins with a steady climb on a narrow ridge top and ends with a winding swoop down to our camp on Cayeuse Creek. Once at camp, we will explore the many differences between the camping equipment we have today and the gear and supplies used by Lewis and Clark. TOTAL MILEAGE - 13 miles
TRIP DAY 2
Today, we will pass several historic camps used by the expedition on both their initial trip west in 1805 and their return trip east in 1806. Again we will be on the roller coaster ridge top, with each climb rewarded by a ripping descent. After passing the spot where the corps had a meal of "bear oil and roots," we will continue on to a series of cairns called Indian Post Office. Long before Lewis and Clark appeared in the Bitterroots, the Nez Perce Tribe used this route to go from their homes in the west to the Buffalo grounds in the east. It is thought that perhaps the Nez Perce used the cairns at Indian Post Office to leave messages for one another. Our camp tonight is at Horseshoe Lake, a great place for a swim, and the home of a very large moose. Tonight we'll discuss the history of the Nez Perce and tell the story of Chief Joseph. TOTAL MILEAGE - 15 miles
TRIP DAY 3
This morning we will pack a lunch to carry with us as we will be leaving our support vehicle for a hike on the ancient trail tread called the Nee-Me-Poo Trail. We begin with a morning ride before we load our bikes on the support truck and hike past the Sinque Hole Camp and toward the Indian Grave, finally arriving at our destination, the Smoking Place. On the return voyage of Lewis and Clark, even after having visited this place once, Lewis writes: "We were entirely surrounded by these mountains, from which, to one not unacquainted with them, it would have seemed impossible to ever have escaped." After our hike we continue riding towards Spirit Revival Ridge, the place where the corps first glimpsed the plains to the west, giving them hope that they would in fact be able to continue their trip to the Pacific. At tonight's camp near Sherman Peak, we will discuss and demonstrate the many skills needed by the members of the expedition not only to survive but to achieve their goals of mapping and cataloging all the lands, people, and animals which they encountered. TOTAL MILEAGE - 17 miles of riding, 2 miles of hiking
TRIP DAY 4
By now, your climbing legs will be in top form and your descending technique will be polished. Before we can descend the nearly 3,000 feet to our camp in the cedars, we must climb over 3,000 feet to the top of Rocky Ridge. A refreshing swim in Rocky Ridge Lake awaits, and we'll have lunch lakeside. Up until today most of the trail has been in a forest of Lodgepole Pines. Today will we see Alpine Fir, Englemann Spruce, Mountain Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Western White Pine, and Western Red Cedar. The trees change as the ridge we are riding turns to the south. It is easy to imagine the amazement of the Corps of Discovery as they continued to experience the vast abundance of this beautiful country. At our enchanting camp in the cedars, we will examine the friendship between Lewis and Clark and their men, in addition to their relationships with the many indigenous people they met along the way. TOTAL MILEAGE - 30 miles
TRIP DAY 5
After a short spin from camp we will visit the Clark Tree, a giant white pine in the final stages of its life. At this point in the journey, Clark's thoughts had turned to the next challenge. They had survived the passage through the mountains and now they must prepare for the journey down the Columbia River. To do this they would need boats, and it was here in this ancient grove of enormous trees that Clark took heart, for here were trees from which they could make canoes. At this point, we finish the trip with a twisty turny hike on the final portion of the trail, to our lunch spot at Lolo Campground, where we will meet our shuttle for the return to Missoula. TOTAL MILEAGE - 5-10 miles of riding, 2.5 miles of hiking
Road Surface: Clay and gravel primitive road.
Technical Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult, a significant amount of climbing.
Altitude: 3,000 - 7,000 feet.
Please Note: Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventure.
Missoula is located 155 miles from Great Falls, Montana and 200 miles from Spokane, WA on Interstate 90. Spokane, Washington is the next closest international airport. There is parking available at the bike shop.
-Flying into Missoula
Airport Code: MSO
-Flying into Spokane, WA
Airport Code: GEG
Spokane is an international airport. You can rent a car in Spokane and park it at the bike shop. This is a 3-4 hour drive.
Airport Shuttler 406-543-9416
Yellow Cab 406-543-6644
It is a good idea to book your rooms ahead and these are our recommendations.
Holiday Inn Parkside
They have an airport van shuttle.
They have an airport van shuttle.
South Gate Inn
Above rates are approximate.
There are really just two kinds of weather: weather you like and weather you do not like. Come prepared for both and you won't care what the weather does.
If you have questions about temperatures for your specific trip please feel free to give us a call 800-845-2453 or email us at email@example.com. We will be happy to give you packing suggestions and help you with ideas for things to do before and after your bike trip.
PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
You will receive a tour packing list with your tour confirmation package. Be sure to bring everything on this list. Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable so be sure to bring all the warm clothing and rain gear listed! When you arrive for your tour, we will give you a dry bag in which to pack your gear. If you have any questions about anything on the list, please call us.
SHIPPING YOUR BIKE
You are welcome to ship your bike to us in advance of your trip. For a moderate fee we will unpack it, build it, and ship it back home to you afterwards. Bikes can be insured to $4,000. Domestic shipping only. If you decide you want to go this route, you must call us in advance of your trip so we can inform the shop that your bike is on its way.
To ship your bike UPS, send it to Big Sky Cyclery, 1110 South Avenue West, Missoula, MT 59801; 406-543-3331. It is critical that you include your name, "Western Spirit Cycling" and tour date on the outside of the box. Check with your local UPS people for the number of days needed for it to arrive in time. It is imperative to have your bike finely tuned and cleaned before your tour so you know it is in top running condition.
If you have any other questions about trip logistics, please feel free to send us an email or, better yet, to call us at 800-845-2453. We will be happy to try to help you answer any other questions you might have about our bike trips.
THINGS TO DO
We love Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose or you could go for the Journals of Lewis and Clark by Bernard Devoto. Both can be found at http://www.amazon.com/.
Your guides will have all the maps necessary for your trip. If you would like your own copy for a souvenir, here is all the info:
For Forest Service Maps of the Western Spirit routes go to store.usgs.gov. To get to the Forest Service maps go to "Featured Products" and then under "Go to product line" choose US Forest Service Maps. Then choose Idaho for 115753 CLEARWATER NATIONAL FOREST, ID