Blue Lake on West Mountain
Eeek! Summer is rapidly slipping away! The kids start school on Wednesday of next week, at least if you're in the Boise District. So here are a few ideas for some outdoor fun for the weekend.
1. Last chance to run the South Fork "canyon" section on the Payette River. Water authorities will be cutting off the flow on the Deadwood River after Aug. 22, so this weekend is the last chance to run the canyon, arguably one of the best and most action-packed whitewater day trips in Idaho.
The South Fork Canyon is a kick-butt, challenging whitewater adventure. It contains six Class 4 rapids, and a portage around Big Falls, a huge waterfall that's in the middle of the trip. There also is a hot springs to soak in along the way, and chances to see wildlife. I've seen black bears in there several times.
If you have your own gear, and you have solid Class 4 experience, then you should try the canyon. I have maps of the South Fork Canyon on my web site, and the whole run is detailed in Paddling the Payette.
No gear? Go with an outfitter. Cascade Raft & Kayak, Bear Valley River Co., Idaho Whitewater Unlimited and the Payette River Company all run the canyon section frequently and safely. They provide a fun-filled day-long adventure in the canyon, plus lunch.
2. Climb a mountain peak close to home. I've got a couple of recommendations here, and if you're not sure if you're in good enough shape to climb a peak, you can always ride a chairlift to the top of Baldy in Sun Valley or Brundage Mountain in McCall and hike down. You also could drive toward Snowbank Mountain near Cascade and hike .65 miles downhill to Blue Lake. This hike is rated "easy" in my Boise Trail Guide.
Another possibility is to hike the Station Creek Trail in Garden Valley. The Station Creek Trail is rated "moderate" in my Boise Trail Guide. Once you reach the Station Creek ridge, you keep going to the top of Bald Mountain (elevation 5,122 feet). The trailhead is about 55 minutes from Boise, directly across from the Garden Valley Ranger Station.
For a more strenuous climb to a higher spot, hike West Mountain Trail to the top of Tripod Peak in the West Mountain chain. Tripod is featured in the Boise Trail Guide.
The hike is rated "strenuous." It's about 12 miles out and back to hike up to Tripod (elevation 8,186 feet). The trailhead is west of Smith's Ferry and Cougar Mountain Lodge.
3. OK, maybe you're stuck in Boise for the weekend because of various commitments or kids activities. But that doesn't mean you can't participate in the Tour de Fat and Fat Tire Festival at Ann Morrison Park on Saturday. Festivities begin with the annual parade in funky costumes at 10 a.m., and the beer drinking begins at 11 a.m. at Ann Morrison Park. There is music and fun stuff to watch, including your friends in goofy get-ups. The event lasts until 4 p.m.
Even though the kids go back to school, there are still plenty of great times to look forward to in September, when the cooler temperatures and Indian summer kicks in. Be sure to reserve some time for outdoor adventures, looking ahead to one of the best months of the year for this kind of activity.
BTW and FYI: My guidebooks are now available as e-books and individual digital files ... so if you want to buy a certain hike or bike ride or paddling trip, you can get them for 99 cents each, or 10 for $5, etc., on stevestuebner.com.