I know what you’re thinking: There’s a Moscow in Idaho?
Alas, we have stumbled upon a lot of small towns in America that don’t have very creative names. Turns out, Moscow is actually a popular choice – four other states also claim a city with the name.
Moscow, ID was an overnight stop for us at best, midway on our journey from Sandpoint, Idaho to McCall, Idaho. The main reason we stopped was that we found free camping and cell service at the local fairgrounds on Campendium.com, our trusty partner for finding free camping spots.
Reet and I have been full-time RVing for 2 years now, and this was our second time in Idaho, a surprisingly magnificent state that we now call our favorite place we’ve visited. We like Idaho so much that we’ve spent a large portion of our summers there, and plan to again this year. It’s not exactly a secret anymore though, as droves of Californians are invading Boise like it’s nobody’s business. The city is growing rapidly and adding new technology companies to its roster regularly.
Over dinner that night in Moscow, we scanned our smartphones for bike trails, and happened upon an incredible-looking mountain bike trail system with over 70 miles of trails just north of us on Moscow Mountain. Mountain biking in Moscow? We had to check it out!
The next morning we drove through rolling farmland to the 5,000-ft mountain dominating the landscape. The Mountain has a pretty astonishing story. It’s almost completely privately held, and was revived in the early 2000s after being a local party spot strewn with trash. The transformation to pristine backcountry required a remarkable collaboration between the private landowners, a small logging company, and the Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA).
We parked along Moscow Mountain road which serves as a trailhead, and were slightly surprised to see no other cars, but it was a Wednesday after all. Curious hornets greeted us immediately as we stepped out of the car, so we geared up quickly and hopped on our bikes to escape the little insects that seem to frequent Idaho in August. Luckily, neither of us were stung, and they seemed to be more interested than angry.
Bugs aside, we spent the day discovering some of the best trails we had ridden in a long time. MAMBA has done a phenomenal job with trail construction on this unique peak. We rode a total of 13.4 miles with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet for the day.
We started by climbing unnamed singletrack that connected us to the La’Fortune trail and continued climbing to about 1,250 feet in total. La’Fortune led to the first descent on Nemesis, which started with some tight switchbacks and a few technical rocky and rooty sections and then soared down flowing singletrack. This trail reminded us of Galbraith mountain, but a more natural version. We stopped to take in the scenery from the top of the mountain.
After turning onto the Cave Trail and stopping briefly to peer inside its namesake, we headed down a huge hill. Just as I was thinking to myself, “thank goodness we don’t have to ride back up that hill,” Reet stopped ahead of me to check his phone and announced that we had taken a wrong turn and weren’t on the trail anymore.
We begrudgingly headed back up the trail. I was looking down, focused on powering up a steep section when I realized Reet had stopped in front of me and was motioning me to stop. There, just 50 feet in front of us, was a momma moose and her baby munching away in the bushes.
I have a bit of a moose obsession that has not been cured despite seeing many of the massive herbivores the previous summer across Colorado and Idaho. We hadn’t seen any yet this year, and my disappointment was palpable. We were thankful that we came across them on the uphill and not the downhill and it reminded us of the need to slow our roll in areas like this. We watched them calmly eat leaves until they eventually wandered away into the forest. Only then did we continue on up the trail.
The finish of our ride is what had us wishing that we were staying in the area longer, with the screaming 1,630 foot descent over 4 miles down Genesis Trail to finish back at our vehicle.