Ride the Bayhorse


Ride the Bayhorse spanned three days of activity last weekend. Nancy Merrill, Idaho Parks and Recreation director, talks to a crowd of ATV riders Saturday.

The third annual Ride the Bayhorse trail ride expanded this year from a one- to a three-day event and included ATV and motorcycle certification classes, an evening banquet and participation by the director of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

ATV ridership was up slightly from last year. That’s good because “We want to increase it a little each year,” said Dan Smith, Land of the Yankee Fork State Park Manger. The long-term goal is to turn the event into a jamboree, where ATV riders can go on multiple trail rides of differing levels of difficulty.

“It was a great ride,” Smith told The Challis Messenger on Monday.

It all started Friday with the ATV and off-road motorcycle certification classes for kids under the age of 16. A new Idaho law that took effect this year requires those without an Idaho driver’s license to get certified if they are going to ride on Forest Service roads.

Rich Gummersall, OHV coordinator for IDPR in Boise, taught classes at the new ATV practice area near the BLM Challis Bridge recreation site. Patrick Carlson, the department’s OHV trainer from Idaho Falls and Joani Hawley, Bayhorse ranger, assisted him. They certified nine young motorcyclists and six ATVs on Friday and Sunday.

“This is the kind of thing we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Smith. “This is important safety training. It’s good to see these kids show up.”

Saturday was the main event, with IDPR Board Chairman Ernie Lombard leading a long string of ATV riders over the Lombard Trail from the visitors center to the Bayhorse town site, where lunch, prepared by the Village Inn, was served. After that, riders split into smaller groups for “show me” rides on different trails, followed by the evening banquet and a shorter trail ride to Twin Peaks Lookout on Sunday.

Thompson Creek Mine (TCM) employee Frank Foster Sr. won the fundraising drawing for a new Polaris ATV. TCM matched all ticket sales, doubling the proceeds to the Friends of the Land of the Yankee Fork.

Vicky Weiner of the Y-Inn announced at the banquet that she was donating all profits to the non-profit group, as well.

Ranger Chuck Felton, who is retiring August 29 after working for the parks department since June 1991, was surprised when IDPR officials honored him for his 20 years of service at the banquet. “He’s going to be missed,” Smith said.


Smith kicked Saturday’s trail ride off by noting that while the state owns about 500 acres between the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center and the Bayhorse ghost town plus surrounding mines, IDPR with the Forest Service and BLM co-manages about 400 square miles of historic mining country which includes about 200 miles of roads and trails.

It’s a good mix of historic and recreational resources, he said.

Smith introduced Nancy Merrill, IDPR director, saying that she took over at a time of big challenges and budget cuts for the agency.

“What a great day for Idaho,” Merrill told the crowd. “I’m so excited to be here. I love my job.”

She turned things over to Lombard, who admitted to being a bit embarrassed that the Lombard Trail was dedicated and named after him in September 2010. Although Lombard had the vision of buying the Bayhorse town site and turning it into Idaho’s centennial park back in the 1990s, plus creating a network of motorized trails tying together historic mines in this area, “I had a lot of help,” making it happen, he said.

Things actually worked out better than expected because the company that owned Bayhorse didn’t want to sell the ghost town back then. So, the vision expanded. The Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center became Idaho’s centennial park project, and now Custer County has both.

The Challis Messenger • P.O.