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The Weiser River National Recreation Trail is a feast of desert canyons, evergreen forests and alpine meadows, following the former right-of-way of a Union Pacific Railroad line between Tamarack and the town of Weiser. Other highlights of the trail include 62 historic rail trestles and wildlife such as deer, waterfowl, quail, turkeys, herons and eagles. You may even encounter coyotes, bears or a mountain lion. If you like to fish, bring a pole and drop a line for rainbow trout in the Weiser River, which the trail follows for pretty much all of its route.
The Weiser River NRT is the longest trail in Idaho; the southern end mainly comprises rolling hills and open canyons, while the northern end tends to be more densely forested. Beginning on the southern end of the old Union Pacific Railroad and the Idaho Northern Railroad corridor, the trail has its roots in the city of Weiser, an agricultural town with a population of roughly 4,600.
Continuing north on the trail, you will come across the Weiser River Canyons lining the banks of the Weiser River between the cities of Weiser and Midvale. The Galloway dam site is a part of the lower canyon and a popular fishing spot on the trail. North of the canyons you'll run into the small town of Midvale. The next scenic site that you cannot miss is 8 miles from Midvale in the city of Cambridge, home of the deepest gorge in North America, Hells Canyon. Its 10-mile wide expanse showcases the differing terrain, climate and elevation of this rural landscape.
Nearly 21 miles up the trail you'll reach the small community of Council. The surrounding valley is a beautiful open green space with wooded hills, farms and ranches. The city is said to have been named after the Shoshoni Indians who inhabited the area before the arrival of settlers. Visiting pioneers told stories of the Indians gathering in the valley with their horses. To the pioneers, this seemed to represent an Indian council meeting, resulting in its current city name, Council.
North of Council the Weiser River NRT passes through the mill town of Tamarack and then slightly farther north you will find the trail's end on Whispering Pine Road, past Rubicon.
Four communities along the trail provide services, including Weiser (the largest, with many restaurants, motels and shops), Midvale, Cambridge and Council. There is an annual spring bike ride along the trail, and in May, a 4-day wagon train event beginning in Weiser and ending in Council.
The Weiser River National Recreation Trail was a Rails-to-Trail Conservancy Trail of the Month in August 2006.
You can access the Weiser River National Recreation Trail in dozens of places along it 85-mile route, including in every town along the way.
A nice 40-mile round trip from Cambridge to Council and back in early October 2019. Trail surface was mostly dry, ranging from gravel to a bit rocky. Not great for road bikes but good for mountain bikes and very good for the fat-tire (4-inch-wide) e-bike (allowed) I used this time. Most casual mountain bikers might average about 10 MPH. This section is almost all away from the highway and other roads, so very peaceful. Trees and river views increase as you go north. I had to open about eight cattle gates but none were locked and this may vary by season. There is camping and lodging at Mundo Hot Springs and several other places along or near this segment of trail. Thanks to the many volunteers who maintain this great trail!
This is so worth while to ride. We started in Weiser, rode to Cambridge.
Then stayed at the Frontier motel and finished with the ride to New Meadows. The trail the first half is gravelly, be ready for that. We also slimed our tires and only had one flat that sealed up right away. The second half to New meadows is a better trail and so gorgeous. The wildflowers are amazing and the animals we saw, deer, foxes, bunnies, turkeys, chukkars and lots of birds. You can get a shuttle thru frontier motel. They bring your vehicle to the hotel so you can pack what you need! Don’t eat at Ginny’s in Cambridge. It’s horrible. Mundo Hot springs is not so great either. Just a warm pool to soak in. I don’t think it’s the real deal actually.
Three of us rode almost the full length of the trail on October 8 & 9. Weather was perfect. We rode downgrade from north to south and overnighted at Mundo Hot Springs, strategically located at the midway point. Sophie the owner is awesome and prepares delicious meals. And, nothing better than a hot soak after a 40 mile ride.
We saw very few others and dont think any were doing the full length. The trail is a mix of everything from a few paved sections to some areas that were a little muddy. Rocky seems most prevelent. Id say to do the full length, fat tires and minimum of weekend warrior level fitness are required.
Most upper section is evergreen type and then gets into open high desert type terrain for say the lower 80% of the trail. Summer riding in the exposed sun would seem pretty rough to me. The ten or so miles from the Presley Trailhead to Weiser were probably the least scenic, mostly farm fileds.
Saw a good bit of wildlife including a bear at a safe distance and some mountain sheep foraging on the side of a steep hill. While we were prepared for goatheads, none of us had a flat tire (thankfully).
This is a neat trail (underutilized) that folks should enjoy.
We traveled this trail in July from Cambridge to Council, with the ambition of going as far as Starkey then back to Council. While fortunately the day time temp was not as warm as it could be (like 100), the sun still beats down on us as there is limited shade. Once we hit Council for a break in the shade to cool off, we decided that we were done. The trail is peaceful, and the grade is easy. The trail surfaces did vary from compacted to very loose, so one does need to keep one eye on the terrain. You must also watch the surroundings for wildlife as we did enjoy what we saw. We traveled 20 miles of the tail and did not see any other riders. We stayed at the Mundo Hot Springs in Cambridge. We jockeyed a truck up to Council so that we'd have a way back to the RV Park. We enjoyed the hot springs that evening!
My husband and I just rode 30 miles of the Weiser River Trail. Our friend, Bob Patrick, dropped us off at Midvale and we rode to Weiser. We took our mountain bikes since it is a gravel and slightly rocky road. The trail had been smoothed out and in good shape although our legs and behinds, a little less so!
What a great time!!
We enjoyed starting out in the farm country with the snowcapped mountains in the background and then made our way into the amazing canyon that hosts the Weiser River. Spring is a perfect time of the year, the canyon was green and lush with twists and turns and the river in full flow. While we didn’t see any other wildlife, the river was full of duck and geese playing in the river.
About the time our legs and rear ends needed a break, we came upon a bench and picnic site near Concrete. That was great, a nice resting spot! No latte stand;) but we made do!
Along the trail there are railroad trestles that marked your mileage so you had an idea how far along you are. After Presley, we left the canyon behind and the last 10 miles or so we were back in the farm country. Our legs and behinds were very glad to see the Weiser trailhead, thirty miles later! It was a great experience and would highly recommend it.
A rider does need to have enough food and water and a tire repair kit. Between Midvale and Presley when you are in the canyon there isn’t any services or cell service.
We would highly recommend it and looking forward to trying the northern trails later in the spring.
Biked this trail from Evergreen campground to Council last week with my 14 year old grandsons. We dropped off my Honda 110 trail bike in Council for a shuttle vehicle and proceeded to campground for overnighter and started down trail at noon next day. Awesome experience riding about 18 miles through forest and over numerous rail trestles crossing Weiser River. Stopped about half way so boys could take a dip in river. This stretch of the trail can compete with any trails I have seen pics in brochures. Plan to do it again with older buddies (senior citizens) in near future.
First rode downhill from Tamarack, about 10 years ago. The bridge decks weren't finished then, so if you turned your bike sideways, the pedals stuck out far enough it wouldn't fall through the gaps between the timbers. I figured the trail needed to be finished. Fast forward to today. Started in Council, going north, ten miles up & then back. The trail is a gravel doubletrack after the first mile. Mostly a firm roadbed, but at ranch road crossings, there's enough broken rock gravel to replace your front yard, that is: barely rideable. A horse would walk around that. And the gates, couldn't ride for ten minutes without another livestock gate. What did the cattlemen do when the trainmen didn't stop their train every mile or so for a livestock gate? I can't imagine that they did. Solitude was great, I'm no backwoods tracker, but the dust on the trail said I was the only bicycle through there since the last ATV's rode through. Another reviewer wrote that they need to pave this. I don't think these Idaho counties would spend to do that, but, it's about the only way I can think of to reconcile the overall length of this trail with the recreational intent. A harsh, hard, trail in a very pretty valley with all the potential to be a premium cycling destination.
This is a great, long trail that takes you through varying landscapes. The trail itself has a variety of surfaces. There were some rocky stretches, but nothing we couldn't plow through with some effort for a mile here or there.
Unfortunately, because of logistics, we rode it during a 100+ heat-wave in early July. We recommend going during more moderate temperatures.
We were happy to have showers and camping at Mundo Hot Springs. Also, happy to have a willing shuttle driver from Colonial Motel in Weiser. We highly recommend those two services for overnight and one-way bikers.
This 85 mile long trail is a wonder to see. It will take you thru just about every type of country side that you could imagine..... from the high prairies, lush farm lands to the forested mountains. But please don't expect an easy trip or a Sunday stroll in the park. This trail can be demanding with long distances between towns. So be in good riding shape and be prepared with plenty of water and the ability to fix a flat tire or two...LOL. I saw that one "rider" on this site rated this trail very low because it was just too hard for them. That is not the trails fault....it is up to the rider to be up to the task. Believe me...the effort will be worth it!
On September 5, 2014, I traversed the stretch of the Weiser River Trail that connects the communities of Cambridge and Council, Idaho. I started the ride at the paved trailhead parking lot in Cambridge, which is conveniently located just off of U.S. Highway 95 as it runs through the community. Beginning about a half-mile west of the river, this section of the trail generally moves away from the highway in a northeasterly direction out of Cambridge, slices through an open expanse of ranch land for several miles, runs along the river through a shallow canyon for about 15 miles with one crossing of the river, and then turns eastward away from the river before meeting up with U.S Highway 95 on the west side, before heading northward and following alongside the highway for the remaining 4 miles to Council.
The best facet of this stretch of the trail has to be its natural setting. The quietly-flowing Weiser River with green foliage along its banks, the yellow grass-covered hills in the background, along with the isolation from any roads, make this stretch of trail a rewarding experience for those who really appreciate nature. But this segment of the trail also has some undesirable attributes that should be mentioned as well. First, much of the surface of the trail along the river has been badly roughed up by the hoofs of horses, which make for a washboard trail surface and thus a quite bumpy ride, even for riders with heavy-duty mountain bikes. In addition, this same section of the trail is broken up by numerous livestock gates that are intended to keep cattle from the ranches adjacent to the trail from straying off their owner’s premises. I counted at least eight of these gates along the 15-miles of trail along the river. Every time a cyclist encounters one of them, he must get off his bike, undo the chain holding the gate in place, open the gate, go through, close the gate, and re-secure the chain. This repeated process can become rather tedious and tiresome after a while.
But despite the negatives just mentioned, I would highly recommend this part of the trail for the scenery alone, and would suggest to anyone who chooses to ride it from Cambridge to Council and back again to allow at least six hours in order to completely absorb the natural beauty is has to offer.
We rode 50 miles of the trail from New Meadows to Cambridge. I recommend going from north to south like we did because you get a nice downhill from Rubicon (where the trail actually starts - not New Meadows. We had to ride on the highway until we saw a trail head near Tamarack).
It was a rough ride at points with large gravel sometimes and semi deep dirt at other times.
If they paved this trail people would come from everywhere to bike it.
We took two days to do the 50 miles and with the heat and difficulty of the terrain I am glad we didn't do it in one.
We stayed in Council and camped at an RV park the first night for $10 per person and then we ended the 2nd day with a nice dip in the new Mundo hot spring pool near Cambridge. They allowed us to park our car at the hot springs for a couple of days while we did this trail.
All in all a good but tough experience with gorgeous scenery. It is doable.
Just wanted to comment that we just finished biking the Weiser River Trail. Stayed over in Weiser the night before the start at the Colonial Motel. The owner (Kevin) gave us a portage up to the top, and drove our car back to the motel. Very reasonable, and great service for bikers. We stayed at the starlite motel on night 1, in the bunkhouse at Midvale on night 2. Had a GREAT prime rib dinner in Midvale. What a treat. The trail was very well maintained and easy to ride, with the exception of the last few miles into Weiser, where horses have made the trail too rough. We just popped out to the road for that last little bit, but otherwise, we had a very good time. The trail is scenic, and with enough variety for everyone. We saw amazing wildlife. There was amazing bird viewing between Midvale and Presley Trailhead. Thanks for a great ride. I would highly recommend it. And thanks to Terry Bonner for the campout in Midvale. A very gracious host.....
On advice of fellow bikers, I rode this section for its scenic beauty. From my perspective, this was the most beautiful section of the trail. I actually started about 4 miles outside of Council - just at the point where the trail leaves Hwy 95 and descends down to the Weiser River. There is a nice, large gravel pull-out off Hwy 95 (unmarked) - just watch for the trail to bend away from 95 and you will see it.
This portion of the trail is completely isolated from Hwy 95 and follows the river through a mixed-use riparian area. A real mix of pastured cows, deciduous wild areas with birds galore, and a few homes scattered along the way. I really enjoyed the mix of land uses and the variety of landscapes along the river. The surface of the trail was extremely easy to ride on - much easier than the canyon area outside of Weiser.
I rode this section of the trail through the canyon, and back to Presley trailhead - about 20 miles altogether. Although the surface in the canyon has more large rocks than other areas of the trail, I didn't find it to be bad - just somewhat bumpy in some areas. The views and peace of the canyon are incredible. The trail is right next to the river for much of ride. This is a completely undeveloped, wild area - just the trail, the water and grassy hills all around. I enjoyed the view across the river of a herd of about 200 goats being managed exclusively by 4 dogs. There is a nice area for resting/lunching about 10 miles in from Presley, just past a trestle. Portable toilets have been brought in and there is a bench right on the river. Really a beautiful place in the springtime.
Just wanted to check the trail out--so parked in Cambridge-nice setup right by the blacktop part of the trail for parking--the scenery was great--but the rocks(gravel)--really suck!! Riding with tubeless setup(Slime) I flatted!
Took my flyrod hoping to maybe give it a whirl--but the Weiser is pretty low in august and river access from the trail not that easy in most places.
As a flat trail thought it would be great just to put some miles in--but the gravel really is a negative!
I just finished riding the northern-most portion of the trail (Tamarack to a couple miles past Fruitvale) with some young men from our church. What a blast! I loved the trail and can't wait to return with my own kids. The trail was in very good condition and allowed us to make very good time. The scenery is beautiful in this section and worth taking in.
"I rode 40 miles in late July from Weiser to Council. The trail website doesn't mention that you can get on the trail right in Weiser. There the trail is blacktopped but not for long. It quickly turns to gravel with large rocks that you will wish weren't there. The scenery was beautiful with canyon walls on either side and the river in between. After you get to Cambridge, the trail opened up into a valley. From Cambridge to Council, the trail was almost impossible to ride. There were too many rocks on the trail. I was only able to average 7 mph and my bike often spun out in the excess gravel. "
"This is a long (85 miles)and mostly dirt trail that takes you from desert to the forest. Although it parallels US-95 in areas, it does pass through a 20 mile section that is roadless and is as much as 12 miles from the highway at points.
Mountain bikes are definitely required--a road bike would never make it.
Trail conditions are variable. Spring time after the trail is compacted and before the goats are released is best. Once the goats are out, the trail becomes quite loose in the lower half. I have not seen the goats north of Council.
There are cattle present in certain sections (miles 14 to about 29, miles 45 to 55, and miles 70 to 72). I wish they weren't there but they are.
In the summer, the forested section remains compacted and fairly cool--although it is still best to ride in the morning. Watch out for the dogs at miles 69.5 and 73.25.
I hope as this trail is discovered and used the dog and cattle problems are resolved.
I own property on the Weiser trail on both sides of the river. I was out there in October 2003 and I walked one and a quarter miles down from the Goodrich Bridge. The trail has been compacted and graded from Weiser to Council and is smooth.
I have since found out that this spring they have bladed and compacted the trail surface.
Will be going there this late August.
Will update & post pics
"Below Midvale as I understand it, the trail surface is okay.
North of Midvale, the trail is ballast and quite hard to ride up as far as I rode to Cambridge.
If the trail owners take a blade to the ballast and thin it out this will be a great trail for mountain bicyclists."
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