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Fall Getaway: Sun Valley, Idaho

October 29, 2008
by Sarah Amandolare
Fall is made for festivals, hikes in the woods, and scenic road-trips, with stops along the way for crisp red apples and stunning photo opportunities. This week, we highlight distinctly autumnal opportunities in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Fall in Sun Valley

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Sun Valley’s serenity is palpable in October. Nestled in Central Idaho, less than 200 miles from bustling Boise, Sun Valley is a favorite of skiers and celebrities. But during the autumn months, after summer crowds have thinned and before the snow enthusiasts descend, Sun Valley is a quiet haven for mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers. According to Sunset magazine, locals call the season “fall slack,” when most of the tourists, “moguls and multi-homeowners” have left. The Wood River Trails are a good starting point, where local residents walk their dogs and go for long runs on the 22-mile path.

Sun Valley Mountain Biking

Sun Valley is full of trails for mountain bikers, and the sport has a huge presence there. In fact, many locals hit the trails to bike during their lunch breaks, according to Sun Valley Magazine.

Local retailer Bob Rosso likens Sun Valley to “the hub of a wheel” with each spoke being a trail. “We can be out on a trail in the blink of an eye. And there’s very few places in the world that you can do that,” Rosso said.

The previously mentioned Wood River Trails are popular among some bikers for their paved surfaces, extending from nearby Ketchum to Bellevue. Most prefer to mountain bike in the fall when temperatures have cooled, although road biking is more popular in the summertime when winds waft across the pavement, reports Sun Valley Magazine. Group bike trips are common with riders of varying abilities, as they emphasize camaraderie and teamwork. Rosso explains, “Our motto is: No rider left behind. Even if you’re a beginner, someone will stay with you.”

According to The New York Times, another popular “after-work constitutional” among local cyclists is the Bald Mountain Trail to Warm Springs. But despite the trail’s popularity, the author says he met just one person during his ride. The lack of crowds is surprising, considering that every year Sun Valley holds a series of community biking events. Crosstoberfest is an off-road race that was held Oct. 25–26, beginning at the Sun Valley River Run Lodge.

Driving the Sawtooth Scenic Byway

In Idaho, driving showcases a range of topographical features, including farmland, mountains and canyons. There are many scenic drives through the state, including the relaxing Sawtooth Scenic Byway, which passes through Sun Valley and is designated as the 100th National Forest Service Byway.

The Sawtooth route begins in Shoshone, and about 14 miles later reaches the Black Magic Canyon. According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 10,000 years of water flowing from Big Wood River has etched a four-mile canyon into the black basalt, marked by “exquisite, swirling rock sculptures.”

Gorp describes the Sawtooth byway as a rugged trip past the “rocks and woodlands” of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, featuring hundreds of alpine lakes and glimpses of regional wildlife like pronghorn antelope and wolves. The route ends at its northern tip in Stanley, the meeting point of two other scenic byways: Ponderosa Pine and Salmon River. Drive on, if you wish.
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