Up, Down, and Around: Biking the Loon Lake Loop



Nothing beats waking up to a crisp and clean Idaho morning. The fresh mountain air, the song and sounds of waking wildlife, and the incredible and expansive scenery just outside of McCall, Idaho. You made the great decision to buy a home and live in Idaho, so why not take advantage of this incredible state? And a beautiful high mountain lake will provide you with the perfect chance to break out your mountain bike and hit the trail. You’ll see the incredible natural scenery of Idaho, encounter the wildlife, and even see the remnants of B-23 bomber that went down in the timber.

Loon Lake has it all. And the Loon Lake Loop is an adrenaline pumping bike ride spanning 10 miles as it weaves you through diverse terrain around the lake. You are looking for a challenge when you ride, and the Loon Lake Loop delivers. From challenging obstacles, like maneuvering around rocks, to fast downhill sections that elevate your heart rate, and your level of fun, this 10-mile loop covers it all. Plus, you’ll be bike riding in some of the best scenery Idaho has to offer.

Riding the Loop

The Loon Lake Loop is an advanced mountain biking trail, but it should be a good challenge and a fun ride for strong intermediate riders. The loop is often considered an Idaho classic, and it is frequently compared to other Idaho classic mountain bike trails like the Fisher-Williams Loop near Stanley, Idaho.

Getting to the loop is simple enough. Head north out of McCall, along the Warren Wagon Road. You’ll be traveling around 30 miles on mostly paved roads. After you drive past the junction leading to Burgdorf Hot Springs, you will want to look out for a sign for the Chinook Campground. This will be on your right. Then, you’ll be able to park next to the trailhead, which is where a bridge crosses the Secesh River.

Because the Loon Lake Loop is a loop, you have two options. You can go left and around the loop, or you can go right and around the loop. Either way is perfectly acceptable, although there is a fair amount of debate over which way is the correct way. In the end, it comes down to the kind of ride that you are looking for.

For some, starting out the ride going downhill following the Secesh River makes it easier to navigate the rocks and roots that cover the trail. However, go this way, and you’ll reach a steep hill that requires climbing. It is steep enough that you won’t be able to bike up it easily, if at all, and typically requires hiking your bike up the steep grade. After the hill, you’ll reach Loon Lake, and return to the beginning of the loop.

However, a fair amount of people prefer to ride the loop backwards. That is, you will start out crossing the bridge and riding to the Willow Basket Trail. This lets you avoid having to hike your bike up the steep hill. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the adrenaline rush and challenge of riding down it. You’ll follow the loop to Loon Lake, and then ride down the steep hill, before a slight climb at the end, where you return to the trailhead.

Whichever way you decide to go the ride usually takes around three hours in order to complete the loop. It might take longer if you have to hike up the hill to Lake Loon. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the lake and all of its sights and sounds. The north end of the lake is actually rather shallow. It warms up quicker than the rest of the lake, which makes for some excellent swimming. It would be worth your while to explore the crash site of the B-23 bomber, and learn about the incredible survival story of the eight men that all survived the nearly month-long ordeal.

Stay safe along the Loon Lake Loop. It is a popular place. You will likely encounter other mountain bikers, as well as hikers, horseback riders, and more. Slow down around blind corners. But most importantly, remember to enjoy this beautiful area that is now your home. As you enjoy lunch along the beautiful shores of Loon Lake, you’ll be thankful that you decided to make Idaho your home.



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