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South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior

Smoky Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior

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  • Getting ready at the Red Warrior Trailhead.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Cranking out the first section of a long loop on Warm Springs Road near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Mid-summer wildflowers along the South Fork of the Warm Springs Trail near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Catching the afternoon sunshine on the South Fork of Warm Springs Trail.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Hiking through one of several short cruxes on the ride. Nearly everything is rideable.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Tackling one of several mini-cruxes on the South Fork of Warm Springs Trail near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • The view across the Smokys at the top of the climb.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Wildflowers along the trail at the junction with Warfield Creek Trail.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Traversing the open, flower-covered hillsided between Warfield and Red Warrior Creeks.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • A mountain biker cruises through fire scars from the 2007 Castle Rock burn on single track near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Sunset on the divide ridge between Warfield and Red Warrior Creeks near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Dropping through a narrow bedrock crux into Red Warrior Creek near Sun Valley.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
  • Waiting for dinner at the only game in town after 10 p.m. in Ketchum.- South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great singletrack. 7-mile road warm up. Hot Springs at the trailhead. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
7-miles of road. Open to motorcycles.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,245.00 ft (684.28 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Trail difficulty: 
Blue
Total Distance: 
19.00 mi (30.58 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,280.00 ft (1,914.14 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Overview

The South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior is a great mountain bike ride contained entirely within the Warm Springs drainage near Sun Valley. It is more remote than some of the more popular rides, so it sees a bit less traffic. Much of the trail was rebuilt in 2009 and 2010, and the crew did an excellent job of creating a moderately challenging, flowy route that makes excellent use of the landscape.

South Fork of Warm Springs to Red Warrior

The first leg of the ride follows the Warm Springs Road toward Dollarhide Summit. This steady but relatively easy 7.7-mile warm up gives riders a chance to fill their lungs with fresh mountain air and enjoy the pretty scenery without being singularly focused on the trail. The first turn is at a well-marked junction at the South Fork of Warm Springs Creek, where a two-track dirt road turns south off of the main road. Follow this through several stream crossings to the second junction at 8.4 miles.

This is where the real single-track begins. Though an old four-wheel drive road used to climb further up the canyon, it has been rehabilitated into a singletrack mountain bike and motorcycle trail. The trail hugs the north side of the canyon, weaving through pretty pockets of trees and across several dry washes on the north side of the creek. There are a handful of steep crux sections, but in general everything is rideable.

At mile 10, turn left at another well-signed junction (the main trail continues to Poison Flat). This is the newer section of trail and the start of the final climb to the top of Warfiled Creek. For the next 2 miles the trail makes a moderate, steady climb up a newly constructed trail. There are two nice bridges and several sections of well-built rock-armored trail at the crux sections. Rounded switchbacks keep things to a moderate grade toward the top of the drainage for a very enjoyable climb to the Warfield saddle at mile 12.

The next section is a great traverse across the top of Warfield Creek that alternates between shaded, north-facing pockets decorated with shrubs and flowers to open, grassy hillsides of bunchgrass, sage, and warmer variety flowers. An open clearing at mile 13.5 on the divide between Warfield and Red Warrior marks the beginning of a fun descent.

The headwaters of Red Warrior Creek burned in the 2007 Castle Rock Fire. In 2010 and 2011 trail crews rebuilt sections that were damaged by the fire and also re-routed the trail away from older steep, rutted, and unrideable sections. The result is a fantastic 4-mile descent through a burned forest recovering from effects of wildfire. Purple fireweed and streambank globemallow decorate the trail as it flows through switchbacks, past rock spires, and through a handful of stream crossings. Look for the junction with the Greenhorn connector at mile 16.7.

The final descent along the bottom of Red Warrior Creek to the trailhead continues at a high-paced clip. The trail is in great shape, but there are several dense and somewhat blind creek crossings. Don’t worry, they are all rideable, so you can keep your speed up. About halfway down the drainage you pass an old metal shack (mile 17.5) and then a continued fast and fun descent through several more stream crossings to Warm Springs Creek. This can range from a raging torrent (during spring and early summer run-off) to a rideable, knee-deep river crossing. If it is too swift, look for the sneak out trail that follows the south bank for a quarter of a mile to a road bridge.

Additional Adventures

The Smoky Mountain trail system is a great interconnected network. Other rides that spur off this route, include the Poison Flat, Mars Ridge, Warfield Creek, and Lodepole to Red Warrior Trails.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(42 within a 30 mile radius)

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Published in collaboration with Idaho River Publications

Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks.  Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho.  His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured.  Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure.  Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers.  Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.

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