Moscow, Idaho July 30-31, 2004
An event loosely organized by:
Lolo Pass Loop
470 miles, approximately 11 hours
This is one of the the most famous of USA motorcycle roads. This loop takes
you up Lolo Pass to Missoula, MT and back via HMarc's "secret road" along
Idaho's St. Joe river. You can shorten this
ride to 400 miles and 9 hours if you turn around at Lolo Hot Springs, right
after crossing the actual Lolo Pass.
If you do this, refueling may be a problem (talk to HMarc about it).
You might save a few minutes
by starting out heading due south on US-95 and jumping on US-12 at Lewiston,
but you'll add 20 miles if you do.
On the return leg,
by staying on I-90 from St. Regis to Coeur d'Alene and taking US-95 back
to Moscow you'll add 10 miles but cut at least an hour off the trip (plus,
on the downside, you'll miss a better road than Lolo Pass).
This is kind of a long group ride, particularly when you want to be back in
Moscow by a fixed time (for the group photo and dinner), but I put in in
here anyway as many of you might want to add Lolo Pass to your log book
on the way to or from WFO-3.
- Head east out of Moscow on ID-8 towards Troy
with a full tank of fuel.
- At Troy, turn right on ID-99 and head toward Kendrick.
a great bit of road that you can let your bike stretch its legs on.
- At Kendrick, turn north on ID-3 and go through town. At the
north end of town, the road has a few turns and then heads up
a long grade. Just before the grade starts, turn right along the
Potlatch river on County Road P1. After about 1/8th of a mile, turn
right over the river and head up a narrow, twisty (and kinda bumpy)
- This is one of HMarc's favorite roads, and it offers a little
bit of everything, including a few "surprise" turns. Awhile after
passing through Cavendish (look quick or you'll miss it) you'll come
to the top of the Ahsahka Grade, with its spectacular view up the
Clearwater canyon leading to Lolo Pass. Unfortunately, there isn't
really anywhere good to stop to take in the view.
You might want to fuel up at Orofino,
not much fuel on the Lolo Pass Hwy. At the stop sign,
turn right (south) and cross the Clearwater
river, then turn left on US-12 (aka the Lolo Pass Highway). Head
towards Missoula, MT.
US-12 is a major highway in
these parts, and is therefore more heavily patrolled than the
roads you've just been on. Watch your six! And your 12.
And your radar detector.
Just a 1/2 mile or so east of Lowell, ID is the famous
"WINDING ROAD NEXT 77 MILES"
sign, at then end of a sloped gravel turnout. A good photo
op for the folks back home.
- Enjoy the road! There are some sights along it, like a couple
places mentioned in Lewis & Clark's diaries. And there's some
hot springs you can hike to. If you want info on this, ask HMarc.
Just before Lolo Pass itself, the speed drops to 35mph. Watch out
for LEOs. Also, there is a Lolo Pass Resort off on the south side
of the road, just west of the summit. They may have fuel if you're
running low. Or not.
- After crossing the pass, you'll see the large Lolo Hot Springs
on the left. A traditional stopping point for motorcyclists, though
many may be on cruisers. The road's character opens up after this
to long sweepers and straights, leading into Lolo, MT.
- At Lolo, there's a big gas station on your right at the
stoplight. Fuel up here. Turn north on US-93 and
head towards Missoula.
- Traffic will get kinda heavy coming into Missoula, and you want
to be alert so you can bear left and stay on US-93 (aka Reserve
St.). It will take you due north to I-90 where there are lots of
resturants, gas stations, and motels. If you miss it and go through
downtown Missoula, you'll regret it.
- Head west on I-90 towards Idaho. The speed limit is nominally
75mph, but if you keep a close eye out, you can flow with the faster
traffic 10 or 15mph above that.
- At St. Regis, after about 80 miles on I-90,
stop for fuel and refreshments.
Here you will leave the freeway, and take Mullan Gulch Road NE
(possibly marked "Old Hwy 10") out
of town. It's the road that parallels the freeway.
After 1/2 mile or so, you'll turn left on Little Joe Road,
which obviously crosses over I-90 and heads south. This is the only
tricky part on this ride, so pay attention.
- Little Joe road follows a creek up a shallow valley, and after 2
or 3 miles becomes hardpack gravel.
[Note: a report from June, 2004 says there is some loose gravel
in many of the corners, so take it easy in the turns]
If you're not used to it, don't
worry -- just relax your grip on the bars, relax your mind, and
take it easy. After about 10 or 11 miles of this you'll be at the
summit of Gold Pass, where the pavement begins again. No more
gravel after that!
- After a long descent from Gold Pass down the southern slopes of
the Bitterroot mountains, you'll come to a T-intersection on the
north bank of the beautiful St. Joe river. Turn right and head
- Stay on this road all the way downriver. The first town you'll
come to is Avery. There may be gas here, but don't count on
it. It's about 100 miles even, from St. Regis, MT to St. Maries, ID.
This road has all the twists and turns you could hope for, and not
much traffic. I much prefer it myself to Lolo Pass.
- There are some nice photo ops on the road downstream. Don't get
so focused on tilting the horizon in the corners that you miss out
getting a photo or two.
At the end of the road, near St. Maries, take a left at the stop
sign onto ID-3 and cross the bridge into St. Maries. Refuel
- Continue south on ID-3 out of St. Maries.
Just before Santa, ID-3 will meet ID-6, where you will bear right
towards the tiny village of Emida. This road has some nice twists,
and some big old trees.
- Continue on ID-6 through Harvard, Princeton, and Potlatch and
turn left onto US-95 at Potlatch Junction.
- Follow US-95 south into Moscow.
On this route
reliable fuel may be found at Orofino, Lolo (on US-93), Missoula, St. Regis,
St. Maries, and Moscow.
There will probably be fuel at other places as well, but Murphy's Law
says it won't be available when you need it.
If you're riding an FJR1300, and you make these fuel stops, I guarantee you
won't run out:
- Moscow, ID (on US-95)
- Orofino, ID (on US-12)
- Lolo, MT (on US-93)
- St. Regis, MT (on I-90)
- St. Maries, ID (on ID-3)
Copyright © 2004, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.