Backcountry Dads: Payette Rim Trail

By  Rodney J. Auth

The original plan was to ride the new Payette Lake Trail, but as sometimes happens with older guys, our signals got crossed. Greg pulled into the driveway in his truck followed closely by his wife in the family car. Instead of shuttling the lake trail, we were going to do the Rim Trail—the easy(ier) way. 

For those who are new to the Rim Trail, it’s perhaps the finest single track in the McCall area—which is really saying something. The typical starting point is the corrals off of Bear Basin Road (head north out of town on 55, pass Shore Lodge and look for Bear Basin Road on the right). The corrals are a little parking area near a fence just before the big Bear Basin meadow. 

From the parking lot, intrepid Backcountry Dads have two choices:

  1. Ride the road up, straight through the four-way intersection, stay right at the next Y and climb, climb, climb for a little over three miles until you hit the purple gate.  From there, you ride through the gate, staying right whenever you have to make a decision until you see the start of the single track next to a cairn of rocks on the right-hand side of the road. 

  2. Hit the end of the Rim Trail just down the road from the corrals (on the right-hand side) and ride the trail as an out and back. This is technical, uphill with a few intersections that are confusing. If you ride it this way, just stay left whenever you have to make a decision. The top of the trail is a forest service road. When you hit this, turn around and ride back the way you came. 

Greg and Rodney pose for a pic during their ride along the Payette Rim Trail. Photo by Rodney Auth

Greg and Rodney pose for a pic during their ride along the Payette Rim Trail. Photo by Rodney Auth

We, however, were smarter than your average Backcountry Dads, so we had Greg’s wife, Larinda, drive us to the purple gate in his truck, then leave it for us at the bottom of the trail. 

Now, some of you reading this might think this is cheating and, guess what? You’d be right. 

In any event, we jumped out at the purple gate, screamed down the forest service road (staying right at the intersection) and hopped into the trail. And, by hopped, I mean, walked. That first drop is too technical for guys whose motto is “live to ride another day!”

We did our best to navigate the tricky rock gardens up top then stopped at a nice overlook to fly the drone; after all this was the start of our Backcountry Dads Vlog. We needed drone footage.

Unfortunately, somebody, not saying who, forgot to update the new GoPro camera firmware to work with the old GoPro Karma drone, so the dang thing wouldn’t/couldn’t fly—which is probably good because we weren’t sure we knew how to use this kid’s toy anyway. 

As we were packing/re-packing the drone to wander on down the trail, two McCall hooligans flew by, jumped a rock garden, and slithered through a skinny section all while talking to us. 

As they left earshot, Greg turned to me and said, “Ah, so that’s how you ride that section.”

Ha. And no. Real backcountry dads walk that section—which is what we proceeded to do—careful to look around to see if anybody noticed. We were alone. 

The rest of the trail is awesome—all downhill, sections of technical rock, roots and a stream crossing; this is where I slid on some rocks and took an impromptu bath. Greg sailed through no problem. Never liked that guy. 

Later, on one of the last up-hills, my mind wandered telling Greg a story about work and I bit it—bending my derailleur on a rock and making the rest of the ride an interesting mix of inadvertent gear shifting and swearing. I blame Greg. 

Luckily, we were close to the end where we high fived, started working on the great stories we were going to tell our wives and took the mandatory selfie because if you don’t take selfie, you probably really didn’t ride. 

And there you have it—the perfect way to ride one of McCall’s best trails. Enjoy our first Vlog of the ride above. As you’ll quickly note, we’re as bad at videography as we are at mountain biking, by which I mean we’re awesome baby!

Till next time….

Rodney & Greg