Nestled high up in the Boise National Forest, Deadwood offers recreationists everything imaginable and just a few hours from Boise: fishing, boating, hiking, camping, backpacking and trails for riding horses and dirt bikes.
Getting there: Leaving Boise around 8 p.m., I made my way up Highway 55 to Banks-Lowman Road through the dusk of a mid-week evening. I stayed at a friend's cabin in Crouch for the night, where I rigged the War Pig (my Honda Transalp) for the next day's journey. A quick breakfast at the Garden Valley Market and I was on my way out Banks-Lowman Road to the Scott Mountain turnoff 13 miles up the South Fork of the Payette River.
The road in to Deadwood Reservoir is narrow and covers some very steep grades. Ascending Scott Mountain to an elevation of 8,000-plus feet left me stunned. From this height, I could see firsthand how the Sawtooth Mountains to the northeast got their name: The silhouettes of jagged ridge lines overlap one another as far as the eye can see.
From Scott Mountain, 16 miles of ridge-to-canyon road takes you to the dam that bottlenecks the Deadwood River and forms the reservoir.
I rode around the dam and past an airstrip to a spot where some friends had set up a massive camp. Campers, horses, bikes, boats—all the finer things in life.
Beyond Deadwood to the north is Warm Lake and the way to Cascade, the remote town of Yellowpine or all the way to Warren. Alternately, a single-track trail system goes over to Silver Creek Plunge, which runs back to Crouch, Boiling Springs or north to Round Valley on Road 670-600. You can also reach the Boundary Creek area near Stanley from Deadwood, which runs into a vast road-and-trail system that spans the Sawtooth Mountains. However you choose to connect the dots, the Boise-Valley County road systems offer some amazing opportunities for recreation and exploring and act as the gateway to many of Idaho's best kept secrets.
Total distance: 198 miles, 71 on dirt