Moscow Mountain Trail Reviews

John Byers, March 9, 2018

Me on Moscow Mountain
A dusty evening on Moscow Mountain

Moscow Mountain, an inconspicuous green mountain towering above the surrounding wheatfields of the Palouse is easy to miss. The beautiful wheatfields surrounding it and the city of Moscow and its university are much more famous. But Moscow Mountain is covered in amazing mountain bike trails, and became my favorite place to go during my time in Moscow. This is my review.

Stats

Elevation: 4721 feet
Range: Bitterroots
More info: MAMBA (Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association) -OR- The University of Idaho outdoor program

Idaho is famous for its great mountains, so of course there will be great mountain biking. Sun Valley and Boise in particular are known for having great trails. But nothing can compare to Moscow Mountain. Trail reviews can't do this mountain justice, but I will do my best.

The best place to start is MAMBA's website. They have the most information on trails, news, and accessing the mountain. I didn't do this, and spent a few great years learning the trails with my friends, and getting lost a few times too. But I do highly recommend MAMBA. If you are a college student, check out the University of Idaho's outdoor program, they introduced me to the mountain and its a lot of fun doing group rides with them.

Trail Reviews


Jump Trail

Jump trail is easily my most ridden trail on the mountain. Park at the base, and ride up. It is usually shady and cool, and not too steep. The top of this trail will put you right at the Four Corners parking area, right in the center of the mountain and with a large number of other trails to choose from. The reason I start at Jump Trail is because it is a really fun ride back down to your car at the end of the day. The jumps are small, "bumps" is a more accurate term. They are fun for any skill level, even beginners. Still, it can be a fast ride down, and the PERFECT way to end the day.


Cabin Trail

Instead of going all the way down Jump Trail, you can take the fork in the road and ride down Cabin Trail. It parallels Jump Trail and will spit you back out near your car, but it is a faster, smoother ride down than Jump Trail. There is a Cabin and a creek alongside the trail, giving it its name. I've heard Cabin Trail described as "like riding a speeder bike on Endor". You get going really fast, and it is a lot of fun.


North Contour

The best trail on the mountain in my opinion. A smooth, fast, trail, zigzagging through the woods. This trail is absolutely a must-do. Be careful, there are some exposed rocks towards the end of the trail, which you can ride over, or go around if need be. Take a left at the end of the trail for a little practice terrain park, or turn right (then left again) to go back to the road towards Four Corners.


Upper Tusk & Lower Tusk

These two trails are fun distractions from riding on the road. Making it all the way up Lower Tusk without walking your bike will impress your friends. Remember to maintain some speed!


Nemesis

After a crash on Nemesis
A great memory on Nemesis, after hitting a tree with my handlebars

Nemesis is a fun trail through the woods. The ride up is steep, but the switchbacks make it manageable. I much prefer to ride down than up, but if you are at the top of Nemesis, then you might as well go a little further so you can ride down La Fortune's Flight trail, which is a longer, slightly better trail in my opinion.


La Fortune's Flight

This trail is a nice, long, flowing ride down the mountain. You get some great views on this trail, and is a fun one for beginners. See it for yourself.


Somalia

Somalia is a true downhill trail. It is very steep, and for experts only. The trail is long, and crosses the road in a spot, but it is so steep, that it is a pretty quick ride down the mountain. For that reason, I didn't like riding it very often. There are much more enjoyable ways down. Maybe stick to shuttling Somalia. The trail itself is interesting, and challenging. If I remember correctly, the Moscow Arms Race takes place on Moscow Mountain in the fall, and Somalia is the trail for the race. You'll want to study each feature and corner in the trail to ensure the fastest way down. I can only recommend Somalia to experts looking for a new challenge. For anyone else, it is just a scary, steep trail.


Private Lands Trail

Private Lands Trail was made towards the end of my time in Moscow, and the trail is amazing. It is a long trail all over the mountain. It's not too difficult, and is rewarding and fun. I highly recommend this trail, but give yourself a little longer to ride it than the others, as it is long.


Headwaters

Headwaters scene
A foggy day on Headwaters trail

Headwaters is one of my most-ridden trails, but also my least favorite on the mountain. It is on the "Headwaters side" of Moscow Mountain, where the snow melts much quicker in the spring time. This makes Headwaters the first trail you can ride in the spring which is nice. To get to the trail, you must first ride up a gravel road, past Pond 9. The trail itself is an average, fun trail on Moscow Mountain, through the trees. It can be done as a loop. The reason I don't like the trail as much as the others is because I've ridden it too much. It is great having a trail to ride in the spring, but it is really the only option on that side of the mountain. I definitely recommend Headwaters in the spring when you are itching to get out and ride after the winter.


Overall, Moscow Mountain is my absolute favorite trail system. A ride on a cool, fall day is absolutely perfect. Consider yourself lucky if you get to ride it. College students especially, enjoy your time there while you can. The beautful setting, and perfect trails in the fall make for some of my favorite trails ever.