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Moscow, Idaho — July 30-31, 2004

An event loosely organized by: HMarc and Warchild


Orofino / Snake River

231 miles, approximately 6 hours

  1. Head east out of Moscow on ID-8 towards Troy.
  2. At Troy, turn right on ID-99 and head toward Kendrick. This is a great bit of road that you can let your bike stretch its legs on.
  3. 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) canyon.
  4. 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.
  5. Local FJR rider David Tucker recommends the Woodlot for lunch, along side the road in Ahsahka.
  6. At the town of Orofino, at the stop sign, the burger place across the street isn't bad, if you're hungry. You might want to fuel up here, or not.
  7. Turn right (south) at the burger place and cross the Clearwater river, then turn right on US-12 (aka the Lolo Pass Highway). Head towards Lewiston, ID.
  8. Another lunch place recommendation by David Tucker is the Canyon Inn Cafe, on US-12 at the turnoff to Peck, ID. This place has very reasonable prices, which in Idaho, means surprisingly inexpensive!
  9. Stay on US-12 and don't get confused when you come to US-95 where it crosses the river. You're going to stay on the north side of the river all the way to Lewiston. 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.
  10. Just before Lewiston, US-95 branches off from US-12 and heads up to Moscow. If you're running late, you can shorten this ride to 118 miles by taking 95 north to Moscow.
  11. Right after 95 branches off, (you're still on US-12 at this point) there will be a right turn (near some grain elevators, IIRC) to Hwy 128. Take it.
  12. Just a few hundred meters up 128 there will be a big Texaco station on the left. This is a good place to refuel (if you didn't do it in Orofino) and take on some liquid refreshments.
  13. Within about a mile of the Texaco, heading west on 128, look for a very small typical street sign that says " Spiral Hwy" marking a paved road to the right. It's very easy to miss, so keep the speed down to 50mph or less so you'll have time to react.
  14. The Spiral Highway climbs about 1500' in 6 miles or so up the Lewiston Grade. At the top, take in the view. You can jump on 95 and head back to Moscow, or head back down the Spiral Highway (oh, twist my arm!) and continue west on 128.
  15. Just east of Clarkston, WA, 128 turns south over the Red Wolf bridge over the Clearwater. Don't take it! Unless, that is, you're hungry. In which case the big marina on the south end of the bridge has pretty decent food, and a big wooden deck where you can dine in the sunshine.
  16. Keep going straight along the north shore of the river. The road becomes WA-193, aka Wawawai Road.
  17. It's easy to get carried away on 193 and wick it up a bit, but watch out for fishermen and campers who may pull abruptly onto the road in front of you. And watch out for deer, as always, and for Chukars (a large cousin of the quail) -- if you hit a Chukar it will ruin your day.
  18. You will come to a place where the road turns away from the river and becomes gravel. Just as it does that, there's a sharp 15mph left turn that you need to take so you can continue downstream on the paved road along the Snake.
  19. When you see a large green State Park just ahead, the paved road will turn uphill and wind up a canyon to the top of the bluff.
  20. At the top, turn left at the intersection where the road you're on becomes gravel. The paved road is the one that goes left.
  21. After awhile, if you're alert, you'll see WA-194 branches off to the left (across a tiny bridge in the bushes), and the road you're on becomes 194 headed to Pullman. If you continue on 194 to Pullman, and Moscow, the ride will be about 206 miles.
  22. For another nice bit of motorcycle road, take the left turn onto 194 and follow it to the intersection with Almota road. To stay on 194 (which you want to do) you have to turn left, as the "main" road becomes Almota road.
  23. In a few miles, you will come to the bluff above the Snake river again and descend the twisty and scenic Almota grade to the river. Where the road reaches the river is near one of the campsites used by the Lewis and Clark expedition.
  24. Turn around there, or a little further up the road at Boyer Park (where you can get refreshments) and head back on 194 all the way to Pullman.
  25. Just before Pullman, you'll intersect with WA-195, a major 2-lane highway. Cross it carefully and enter Pullman. 194 will become 270 and head east towards Moscow. This is the road the college kids take between the U. of Idaho and Washington State, so it's normally patrolled pretty heavily.
  26. After you cross the Idaho border, the road becomes ID-8, and will take you right to the motel.

On this route reliable fuel may be found at Orofino, Lewiston and Pullman. There will probably be fuel at other places as well, but this is rural country, and a lot of small towns don't have fuel at all, particularly at night and on Sundays.

Copyright © 2004, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.