Weiser: farming and fiddles, right? Sure, but this small town of 5,500 also happens to be the starting point of a nationally recognized trail system that showcases nearly every aspect of Idaho's diverse landscape. In fact, Weiser and West Central Idaho's 1,474-square-mile Washington County at-large also boast plenty of recreational outlets for folks looking to explore some new territory.
Earlier this summer, I endeavored to ride a portion of the Weiser River Trail--a byproduct of the national Rails-to-Trails initiative that converted 84 miles of old Union Pacific rail line to wide open two-track trail between Weiser and Rubicon (near New Meadows). I only covered a short agricultural section of this longest trail in the state, but it still left me wanting for the multi-day trip needed to get a full taste.
The trailhead begins on the eastern fringe of Weiser, where the quaint country residential neighborhoods transition to sizeable agricultural acreages. The first few miles of the Weiser River Trail don't leave much to the imagination, as it follows a flat, straight progression over gravel through rural farm land. The trail eventually meets up with the Weiser River, signifying the start of more-stimulating scenery.
If you go by bike, plan on at least two nights and three days to get from start to finish. Shorter segments can also be accessed from towns along the way. According to the Rails-to-Trails website, "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 four-day wagon train event beginning in Weiser and ending in Council."
As the trail enters Adams County and works away from Highway 95 north of Council, the open canyons and farmlands transition into the nice coniferous canopy of the Idaho mountains--with plenty of recreational options along the way. Fishing, hot springing and simply taking in the wildlife are the preferred extracurricular activities along the WRT.
The trail is only open to bikers, horseback riders, walkers, and cross-country skiers, meaning you will never go toe to toe with anything motorized. The best time of year to attempt the entire WRT is late spring to early fall. Be sure to pack for all scenarios, as it can be a long way between services.