One of the things that attracted us to the condo that we rented in Sun Valley was the fact that the owners have a couple of mountain bikes that they make available to all renters. Our biking plans were somewhat curbed by the husband’s recent stint in the hospital, but he was feeling quite perky by our fifth day in town, so we decided to give it a go. The original plan had been to bike the Wood River Trail from our condo to Sun Valley Brewing in Hailey, a round-trip ride of around 25 miles. That was clearly off the table, so we set a more realistic goal of an 11 mile round-trip (though it ended up being more like 14) to and from the Sawtooth Botanical Garden.
We didn’t bust our humps to get out on the bikes in the morning as we wanted to enjoy our ride in the warm sunshine. We dawdled at the condo and then took a little drive up the road that goes past the Sun Valley Lodge and continues up into the hills. It was another stunning morning and we were treated with views of trees starting to turn, ponds with ducks in them and a great view of Bald Mountain.
We set out on the bikes shortly before noon. Even though we had only ridden a mile or so, we decided to stop for lunch in Ketchum at Johnny G’s Subshack, which I told you about here. Johnny G’s is home of the $1 pint o’ Coors Light. It was somewhat tempting to just end the ride there and have a couple more beers before wobbling back to the condo on the bikes, but we resisted.
There are lots (tons) of paved biking paths in the greater Sun Valley area. There are also lots of mountain biking trails up in the hills. This could easily be a biker’s dream town, particularly if they like to bike in the summer and ski in the winter. The Wood River Trail offers 33.7 miles of paved paths. And, I’m going to hazard a guess that the entire trail was as easy as the section we road. We encountered no hills and very little elevation change. I would imagine that, during late spring and early summer, it is packed with families and small children zig-zagging along the trail (kind of like we would have done if we’d each consumed a couple more beers. Except the kids’ excuse would be that they were just learning to ride a bike). However, on a warm day in late September we pretty much had it to ourselves.
Do not be deceived into thinking, given the name of the trail, that you will follow Big Wood River throughout your ride. You will not. Why is that? Well, I kind of think it has something to do with the fact that the wealthy people want to build their big houses along Big Wood River, rather than allowing a bike path to commandeer those primo views. Who can blame them? So, while we were teased with some views of the river we were not inundated by them. A bit of a bummer.
The Wood River trail is actually a “rails to trails” conversion, meaning that what is now the trail used to be a railroad line. They’ve done a nice job of installing interpretive signs along the trail that tell about things like the area’s mining and sheep ranching history.
We enjoyed the easy ride and arrived at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden in short order. I didn’t have huge expectations. I mean, first of all it was the third week in September…in Idaho. Second of all, it was a botanical garden…in Southern Idaho. So, because I didn’t have huge expectations I was pleasantly surprised. It was small, but pretty well tended. I imagine that in the early summer it’s probably quite stunning.
Needless to say, it didn’t take us long to go through the garden.
We headed back to town and I started thinking about Coors on tap at Johnny G’s. Or maybe a cocktail somewhere else. However, a couple of miles from Ketchum I noticed that the husband was starting to lag a bit. He was putting up a good fight, but he was ready for a rest. We got into Ketchum and I casually asked if he wanted to stop anywhere and he shook his head. Back to the condo we went. That’s okay…there were cocktails available there, too.
We had dinner at the condo that evening and the husband, having caught his second wind, suggested climbing mid-way up Dollar Mountain (which was down a path and across a parking lot from us) to see the sunset. So, we did.
Sun Valley sits in, well, a valley (imagine that). Which means that sunsets and sunrises are elusive things unless you get yourself up a hill.
This was the first afternoon that we had experienced a little bit of cloud cover, which made it a perfect evening to take in a sunset.
And this is where I leave you…as sunsets don’t require a lot of blather and are best viewed in silence (with perhaps a few ooooh’s and ahhhh’s).