Ride Around the Silver Island Mountains

This small but mighty mountain range borders the Bonneville Salt Flats, with its famed raceway. Rising steeply out of the salt flats, the Silver Island Mountains' highest peak is over 7,500 feet high. These craggy mountains exhibit many interesting types of rock formations, which we would know more about if we were geologists instead of mountain bikers. But we were there to ride.

With the Silver Island Mountains Back Country Byway as our approximate route, our party of four bikepackers, who came together via the SLC Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking meet-up group, pedaled this 55-mile route, mostly on dirt roads. Compared to our other adventures in the rocky Uintas and the steep Wasatch Range, this ride was a piece of cake. Graded dirt roads offered smooth rolling and endless views. Only one or two cars passed us during the entire trip, and we camped in solitude on the northern end of the range under a lovely, nearly full moon. Among the indulgences of the trip was a pedal by moonlight.

My personal favorite part of the trip was a short excursion on a jeep trail -- marked as the Hastings Cutoff (onto which the Donner party of emigrants took an ill-advised turn in 1846) of the California Trail. We imagined traversing this beautiful but desolate terrain via wagon train -- with no established road in sight -- en route to California. We were very happy instead to be out for a fun overnight bikepacking excursion with plenty of water on our mountain bikes.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: There is absolutely no water on the route, nor are there services of any kind. BYO water, beer, whiskey, etc. It's lovely by the full moon. Although my usual steed is a Bike Friday, my bikepacking trips have been done on a $75 mountain bike from the SLC Bicycle Collective. (Ed note: lending credence to the theory that Any Bike's a Touring Bike). If you find a jeep trail that looks interesting, follow it. But don't count on finding all of the jeep trails that maps of the area suggest exist.

Favorite local bike shop: Saturday Cycles in Salt Lake City.

1 response so far ↓

Allison F. - Jun 30, 2014 at 5:27 AM

HI:) I am going to call the BLM admins today but thought you might have some answers to my questions too. I just got a Pugsely from Sat Cycles and am looking forward to my 1st bike packing trip. I want to do this trip next weekend with my husband.

1. Is it true you can camp wherever you can find a spot for your tent?
2. What are the riding conditions like? Easy, technical?
3. Is there a certain map I should buy?
4. Do I need a parking permit?
5. How much water did you bring?

That's all I can think of now. I appreciate you posting this. I am actually the woman who couldn't find your house for a meet up a while back, so hello again:)

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