Blackline Guides | Tad Jones

Tad Jones Running Blackrock Rapid | Salt River, Arizona
Tad Jones Backcountry Skiing in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area
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  • Blackline Guides was a project started by Tad Jones in 2004 to document trail conditions in different areas of Idaho. The project started as a collection of rides for mountain biking. As more trails were discovered that were off limits to mountain biking the project began to include hiking and trail running routes. Eventually the project began to include trails more suited to his other passion, dirt biking.

    Tad began dirt biking at an early age. Tad lived in Weiser, Idaho and would look forward to the days when he could visit his grandparents across the Snake River in Huntington, Oregon. His motherís parents lived in Huntington and Tad would spend hours riding his grandfathers Honda 90 in many of the foothills and mountains. He explored many miles of dirt road and trails in the area and developed an infatuation for exploration and mapping at an early age.

    Tad Jones at the age of 10, riding the Honda 90 with Grandma MeMe
    Tad Jones at the age of 10, riding the Honda 90 with Grandma MeMe

    Tadís fatherís parents and Tadís great grandfather were deep into conservation efforts in Idaho and enjoyed hiking into many high mountain lakes in the Sawtooth range and the White Clouds. Tadís Great Grandfather Glenn Mills petitioned the forest service to name one of the high mountain lakes after his daughter Kathryn Mills Jones lost a battle with brain cancer. Lake Kathryn was named after Kathryn Mills Jones after her death and sits high in the mountains above Redfish Lake.

    Lake Kathryn | Named after Tad's Grandmother Kathryn Mills Jones
    Lake Kathryn | Named after Tad's Grandmother Kathryn Mills Jones

    In 1982 Tadís family moved to McCall, Idaho where Tad was surrounded by mountains and trails. Tad spent many days exploring trails in the summer and learned to cross-country and telemark ski into the backcountry in the area around McCall in the winter.

    In the beginning, Tad and his friends would ride BMX bikes on many of the hiking trails and horse trails in the Payette National Forest. This worked well downhill, but only having one gear made it difficult to ride uphill. They would walk their bikes up most of the steeper hills and then enjoy the downhill back to town. There was a local BMX track that had been developed behind his Fatherís house and Tad and his cousin Oly Quast would spend hours riding the course, jumping tabletops, and just goofing around on bikes.

    When mountain biking was introduced to the area in the late 1980ís Tad saved up money to purchase a mountain bike with gears. It had wide ďmooseĒ handlebars and was more difficult to get between tight trees than the smaller BMX bike, but the advantage of gears opened up miles of riding in the steep and rocky terrain around McCall. The only person selling Mountain Bikes at the time was Judson Zenzic out of a small shop on the shores of Payette Lake near the Marina. The building has since been torn down. It used to sit near the intersection of what is now Mountain Monkey Business on the site of Legacy Park. Judson set up the brakes to match a motorcycle (opposite of standard brakes now). Many of the locals thought that riding bicycles on these hiking trails was ludicrous and wondered why anyone would want to do such a thing.

    Soon, other shops started carrying the new types of bicycles which had evolved from beach cruisers. Soon mountain biking became more popular and the community began to embrace it. Tad got a job at a local ski shop that carried mountain bikes and met friend and bicycle mechanic Don Jeffery.

    Don and Tad began riding trails together along with now famous local cyclist Greg Randolph. They were constantly challenging each other to climb over rocky areas of trail and exploring the trails up into high mountain lakes. Many of the trails were also being explored by trail bikes and mountain biking was often lumped into the same stereotypes associated with trail bikes as having a negative impact on trails and the environment. At the time, that may have been a fair assumption as the knowledge of the impact that bicycling had on the trails was very limited.

    Tad attended the University of Idaho and began exploring much of the area for mountain biking with friends Tucker and Clancy Anderson. A guide book was published by Tread Lightly Press written by Jim LaFortune called ďMountain Biking in Hog HeavenĒ that covered the area around Moscow Mountain, North-South Ski Bowl, and McCroskey State Park. It was about this time that front suspension came into use. With the advent of front suspension mountain biking pushed the limits of speed on downhill travel. Now with the advent of rear suspension, disk brakes, and bikes specifically designed for fast descents and resemble dirt bikes without engines.

    After graduating from the University of Idaho in 1996, Tad moved to Boise, Idaho with his wife Karma Jones. It was here that Tad found easy access to trails in the Boise Front. This trail system was originally developed by dirt bike enthusiasts that would ride old mining and logging roads, ranching roads and created a network of trails that would eventually become the Ridge to Rivers trail system.

    Blackline Guides is a natural progression to share some of these trails and experiences with others. We have attempted to provide a balanced view between recreation, conservation, and a respect for our environment.

    The website will eventually be converted into multiple guide books once enough information has been collected on the trails in highlighted areas.


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