Magruder Corridor OHV Road Guide Montana & Idaho ❤️️ 2022

Magruder Corridor OHV: The 113-mile Magruder Corridor OHV route connects Idaho and Montana. 

It starts in Elk City, Idaho, and goes through vast, undeveloped areas before reaching Darby, Montana. 

Magruder Corridor OHV

The only route through the Nez Perce Clearwater and Bitterroot federal forests is this one. What can you expect from the Magruder Corridor route?

As you travel the Magruder Corridor, you will be greeted by majestic mountain views and towering pine trees. 

The backcountry route is steep and winding, with only a few turns. It promises hours of bumpy driving, grand views, and beautiful nature. This route is suitable for Jeeps and pickups as well as motorcycles and mountain bikes.

This single-lane road will test your off-roading skills and your ability to find wild routes. You will learn to appreciate the simplicity and the outdoors. After a long day of hiking and driving, there are many campgrounds where you can rest. 

Although it may not be the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route’s 113-mile dirt road, the rich history and culture that it offers are unsurpassed. This trail guide will help you learn more about the Magruder Road OHV Road and the reasons why off-roading enthusiasts love to visit the charming towns that border it.

Magruder Corridor OHV Road Guide

A historic trail of off-roading

This historic route was first used by merchants and Indians to travel between Idaho, Montana, and Washington. 

The trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930. It went through many names before it became the Magruder Corridor. 

It was also known as the Southern Nez Perce Trail. It was not made the Magruder Corridor officially until 1980 when the Central Idaho Wilderness Act was passed.

Lloyd Magruder’s tragic death gave rise to the official name of the corridor. He was a successful merchant from Virginia City in Montana who sold supplies to miners for gold. 

He was on a trip when he encountered four men who robbed and killed him before throwing him off a cliff to reach San Francisco. One of Magruder’s friends eventually spotted the killers and brought them back to Idaho for trial in Lewiston. They were hanged in the capital in 1864.

How long is the Magruder Corridor OTV Road?

If you start in Elk City, the trail will be 113 miles long. The backroad, which runs 101 miles, features the Frank Church, Selway-Clearwater wilderness, and is 113 miles long. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete. 

The signage warns off-roaders that they will be traveling on a mountain road without services at the beginning. The signage also recommends that you bring an ax and shovel along with a bucket.

The road conditions on the Magruder Corridor range from moderately rocky to paved. While some sections allow for two-way riding, others are too narrow to allow a 4×4 or a dirtbike to be ridden side-by-side. Most of the Corridor allows you to drive cliffside, except for areas that are paved.

How long does the Magruder Corridor take to drive?

For those who travel by ATV, motorcycle, or Jeep, one day will be enough to cover the entire corridor. The journey from Red River to Darby takes between 8-10 hours. You can travel at an average speed of 12-15 mph without stopping. 

However, travel time varies. It is possible to combine a two-day trip with an overnight stay at one of the scattered camping sites. 

You may have to camp more frequently if you are traveling with your family. It will take you longer to complete the entire OHV route.

Landmarks and Interest points

Although the Magruder Corridor starts out as a straightforward forest service road, it becomes more difficult 16 miles in.

It then narrows and becomes rockier after 25-30 miles. Along the route, you will see a lot of green, huckleberries, wildflowers, and a lot of other wildlife. If you are lucky, you might even spot a squirrel or chipmunk.

The directions to the Magruder Corridor road are also very simple. Take State Highway 14 towards Elk City from Grangeville, Idaho. Turn right onto Red River Road towards the Red River Ranger Station. 

Forest Road is south of the Ranger Station at the Magruder Corridor’s west end. The East end of the Magruder Corridor is located 0.8 miles from West Fork Ranger Station. Continue south on Red River-Dixie Road from State Highway 14.

If you want to complete the Magruder Corridor within a day, you can follow the above directions. 

If you’d like to explore more of the wilderness, you can check these landmarks or interest points along the route.

Granite Springs to Red River Ranger Station

Elk City is a small community that has a deli, an ice cream parlor, and a grocery store. Adventurers often start in this city. There are also fuel stations that offer regular gasoline (no premium). 

Visitors are invited to stop by Red River Ranger District’s Ranger Station to ask about Magruder Corridor maps, road conditions, or other concerns. The first eight miles from Elk City are a steady climb that leads to views of Oregon Butte Lookout to the west and Buffalo Hump.

You will find Bridge Creek nearby, which makes a great side trip for a morning walk. You will reach Green Mountain Lookout at 7,150 feet elevation. You will find stretches of green here and many pine trees. 

This is a beautiful spot to take pictures with family and friends. Granite Springs Campground can be found on both sides. It has drinking water and pit toilets. Picnic tables and stock facilities are also available.

Elk Mountain Road to Burnt Knob Lookout

As you drive along Elk Mountain, you will see pine trees from Green Mountain Lookout. Stop for a short hike or to take pictures. 

This area is not maintained regularly, but it has a rustic charm. You will find a stunning view of the forest from one section of this hike. Below, there is a beautiful lake.

You will pass through Poet Creek Campground which is located north of Magruder Road. The road climbs steeply uphill for eight miles, with some sharp curves, until it reaches Burnt Knob Lookout. 

This section has some of the most beautiful spots. It is also a must-see for Jeep enthusiasts because of its 360deg views of the forest. The lookout has a tiny parking area that can accommodate 3-4 Jeeps maximum, as well as a lovely cabin. You can take a lot of slow-crawling routes to and from Burnt Knob.

The trailhead for Horse Heaven Saddle via Dry Saddle

The Dry Saddle Trailhead elevation is 7,920 feet. It is a 10-mile hike from Sheep Hill’s fire tower. You can enjoy many spectacular views as the road descends to Sabe Saddle. You can still see remnants of the 1988 forest fire. 

This section of road measures 7,490 feet and is narrow and steep. In this area is difficult to pass other vehicles. This section ends with the Horse Heaven Saddle. It is named after its lush grazing lawns. It can be rented as a Forest Service cabin and is available for four people.

Salmon Mountain Area to the Observation point

The Salmon Mountain Area is home to the former ranger station and lookout tower, which are manned by volunteers during fire season. On its slopes, you can see ghost trees and ribbon forests. 

The Observation point Campground is a great camping spot with stunning views of the alpine wilderness. Here visitors can see the southern part of the Bitterroot Mountain Range at 7,620 feet.

Magruder Crossing

Beyond Burnt Knob Road, you will see wildlife hidden under rocks and boulders of varying sizes. You will be driving along a creek on a section of road beyond this point. This continues until you reach the Magruder crossing.

This is the only spot in the upper Selway drainage that allows you to cross the Selway River. This steel bridge was built by the CCC in 1935. Nearby is the Magruder massacre site.

As you climb to the higher sections of the Magruder Road Corridor, you’ll be able to enjoy magnificent views of the forest while you ride along its ridgeline. The stunning scenery can distract you from your main objective. 

The most beautiful views are found in the most difficult sections of the corridor. You can camp in a clearing near Selway River, which is part of the forest. It’s a great spot to have smores and build a fire while admiring the night sky.

Magruder Crossing

Paradise Road to Paradise

This narrow road runs 12 miles along the beautiful Selway River. It flows through a canyon that is lined with western red cedar. This is where you will find the pack bridge that leads to Spot Mountain Lookout. 

There are three campgrounds in the area: Raven Creek and Indian Creek. Paradise is also available. These three campsites are primitive camping sites with river rafting sites near Paradise Road. Permits are required for this side trip, which can be obtained from the West Fork Ranger Station. This trailhead is often used during hunting season.

Magruder Ranger Station to Hells Half Acre

Here you will find the remote Magruder Ranger Station. You can take photos and get water. Ole Tangen built the office, residence, and ranger’s home, while CCC constructed the one-lane road that connects the station with Elk City.

This included the barn, corral, and woodshed. This section also includes the Deep Creek Campground. The campground offers three campsites with toilets and stock facilities. On both banks of the creek, remnants of the CCC spike camp can still be seen.

The trail to Hell’s Half Acre Lookout runs approximately 10 miles and is dangerously narrow, steep, and rocky. 

The structures in the area, from Magruder Ranger Station up to Hells Half Acre Lookout, are rustic and beautiful. 

The ranger’s home can be found in the Forest Service cabin rental program. You can also obtain additional information from the West Fork Ranger Station via www.recreation.gov.

Nez Perce Pass to West Fork Ranger Station

This section of road, which runs 14 miles, was built in 1970 in anticipation of timber sales. It was completed long before the 1980 Central Idaho Wilderness Act. 

It begins at Nez Perce Pass, 6,598 feet elevation. The information board provides general information and a history of the area. 

It is forbidden to park your 4×4 or Jeep. This section continues to Fales Campground named after Wesley Fales. 

He was a forester and an early Forest Service employee who found a homestead in the flat around 1914. 

This section ends at West Fork Ranger Station. There, remnants of historic bridges can be seen at Watchtower Creek or Little West Fork Creek.

The government prohibits timber harvest in wilderness areas. This may explain why you might not see individual trees marked for cutting if you take a side trip or hike in the area. 

This stretch is home to the largest amount of CCC history on the entire Magruder Corridor’s 101-mile length. This is the last landmark you will see before you reach the Montana-Idaho frontier.

Visitors are welcome to stop at West Fork Ranger Station to ask about the weather, maps, road conditions, and other information. The ranger station closes after hours. However, a map can still be obtained outside.

Hunting Season

The Idaho hunting season coincides with the time you should set out on the Magruder from mid-September to mid-November. Many ATVs/UTVs will be on the roads during this time, some of them being used by hunters. 

It’s always a good idea to plan your trip between July-early September. If you’d like the Corridor to be yours, schedule your offroading adventure outside hunting season.

Weather Conditions

When planning your trip on the Magruder, make sure to check the weather forecasts for the area. The first snowfalls are in October, and they continue through July. Also, August can be unpredictable. 

You can avoid Burnt Knob Road if there is imminent inclement weather. It can be very troublesome if you are stuck there.

Other Detours

It is best to enjoy the solitude and remoteness of the Magruder Corridor by taking your time. This is especially true for families traveling together. 

These are just a few of the many attractions along the Magruder Corridor that offer stunning scenery and breathtaking hiking trails for you and your family.

  • Bear Creek Pass This side trip is located near Lost Horse Creek Road. It offers a chance to go on a hike. These hiking trails are more narrow than those at other spots on the Magruder route. You will find plenty of greenery and rock boulders as you climb steadily up the trail.
  • Shumaker Campground– You will be able to see the Twin Lakes from up close. The Lower Twin Lake and its surrounding areas are stunning, and sunset makes the scene even more spectacular. In the morning, the Upper Twin Lake looks just as majestic. It’s possible to take a break from the long hours of driving or stay overnight.
  • Wahoo Trail – This trail is rocky and runs along the Montana-Idaho frontier. You can see clearly the Twin Lakes as well as another unmarked lake from this point. Just before reaching the Montana-Idaho border, the road becomes pavement. This will surprise off-road riders as well as Magruder Corridor ATV enthusiasts. There is a small dirt road section just beyond the Montana-Idaho boundary before you reach Darby.

Forest Guidelines

Magruder Crossing offers many activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, and nature watching. 

We must give back in return for our time and enjoyment in the wilderness. This includes following these guidelines and preserving the natural condition of wilderness areas that surround the Corridor.

Planning for your trip?

  • Before you drive to Magruder Crossing, make sure you do your research. You can find more information on the USDA Website.
  • You can obtain a Magruder Corridor Map from either the Red River ranger station or the West Fork ranger station. It can also be obtained online.

While riding the Magruder Corridor.

  • Due to the numerous hairpin turns, the Forest Service prohibits motor homes and trailers with low clearance from being towable.
  • Keep on the road, as motorized/mechanized vehicles and equipment are not allowed in wilderness areas.
  • A 4WD vehicle is recommended, especially if the road is icy or muddy.
  • You should ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and has enough gas to run it. Also, you have a spare tire. Be aware of other traffic, washouts, and fallen trees as well as other debris.
  • If you’re riding a bicycle, you should bring more than 2 liters of water. This 8-hour drive can be exhausting.

Camping at primitive sites:

  • You should choose a site at least 200 feet from water and trails.
  • Dig a hole and place human waste in it when you go to the toilet.
  • When building campfires, you can use existing fire rings and fire grates.
  • When you are leaving, make sure the campfire is completely out.
  • All trash must be removed, yours and others.
  • To ensure the preservation of the places you love, practice Leave No Trace methods.

Magruder Corridor: A Quest Through Borders

You can experience the Magruder Corridor, one of the wildest roads in America. The OHV road winds through more than one million acres of beautiful wilderness. It has an unparalleled rustic charm. 

It’s much the same as it was when Nez Perce Indians, merchants, and others traveled through the region. From the summits, you can see sprawling views over undeveloped areas and pristine lakes from close proximity.

The trail is generally easy to ride with the exception of a few bumps and steep drops. There are also a few turnouts. 

Although it isn’t as difficult as the Idaho BDR it offers breathtaking views and many breakthroughs, it is still quite challenging. Get your Jeep ready and get on the Magruder Corridor.

Is the Magruder Corridor open?

Road Update Road Update: The Magruder Corridor, Road 468, is now open. Contact the Red River Ranger District (208-842-2245) for any queries.

What was the Magruder massacre?

In 1864, on March 4, James Romaine, Daniel Howard as well as Christopher Lowery were hanged at Lewiston for the brutal killing of the well-known operator of pack trains Lloyd Magruder and four of his men. The murderers had made friends with the Magruder group while travelling toward Virginia City, then in Idaho but later in Montana.

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