Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some suggestions for Memorial Day weekend

The Crooked River trail starts from the Edna Creek Road, north of Idaho City.
On top of Bogus Basin, looking north to Mores Mountain 
North Valley Rail-Trail in McCall 
Hot springs may be the ticket this weekend ... this is Kirkham near Lowman 

Hi all,

After all of this beautiful, warm weather we've had in May, it's too bad that Memorial Day weekend is starting off wet and cold.

Checking on the forecasts, I see McCall is supposed to have highs in the low 50s, and a 50 percent chance of rain or snow until Monday. In Stanley, it's supposed to be colder, with 60 percent chance of rain or snow. In Idaho City, it may hit 60 by Sunday, and a 40 percent chance of rain. Geez isn't that inspiring!

But hey, last year at this time was WAY worse. There was a lot more snow at low elevations, and the weather was horrible all weekend. My recommendations could be summed up in one sentence: "Party under the tarp."

Those sage words of advice will hold true again this weekend. If you're going camping, I'd recommend choosing a location that's in the lower elevation zone to avoid getting buried by snow. Definitely bring a good tarp. Pack a ton of firewood; keep it covered and dry. Dress warm.

The Idaho Statesman outdoor staff had a great roundup in today's edition on camping conditions in  Southwest Idaho. If you haven't tried it yet, you might look for a Forest Service cabin rental or an Idaho State Park cabin rental for the weekend. That would be warm and cozy.

In the meantime, I'll suggest a couple of hiking and biking trails that may be good bets for this weekend:

  • Bogus Basin Contour Tour - This is a moderate hike or mountain bike ride. It's 5.75 miles start to finish. You circumnavigate Bogus Basin ski area by taking Deer Point Trail #91 to Elk Meadows Trail #94. Take Elk Meadows around the backside of Bogus to Lodge Trail, return to the Pioneer Lodge area, and then descend on Sunshine Trail and Shindig Trail back to the main parking lot. See my previous blog on this loop for details.  
  • Two Trails that start with the letter "C" - Crooked River and Cottonwood Creek. Both of these trails are in the Boise National Forest. Crooked River is between Idaho City and Lowman, and Cottonwood Creek is near Arrowrock Reservoir. See my previous blog on these trails for details. 
  • Station Creek Trail - I'm taking my kids hiking on this trail on Sunday. My 14-year-old son is going to be working on a trail crew this summer, and he needs to get his boots broken in. The Station Creek Trail is located directly across from the Garden Valley Ranger District office, on the Banks to Lowman Highway, just east of the town of Garden Valley. The hike is about 4.5 miles long. As an optional addition, you can hike to the top of Bald Mountain. That's what we're going to do. 
  • Bear Basin or North Valley Rail-Trail - If you're in McCall, these are two low-elevation options close to town that are guaranteed to please. These two hikes/rides are featured in my book Mountain Biking in McCall. Click on the free sample rides for details. The Bear Basin Trails are in the Payette National Forest and the North Valley Rail-Trail runs south of McCall on the old railroad right of way. Both trails are kid-friendly. 
If you're camping in the Garden Valley or Idaho City areas over the weekend, one thing you could do is to watch the Exergy Tour stage race on Sunday. It's a 60-mile race from Garden Valley to Idaho City. It starts at noon, and it's expected to finish around 3 p.m. in Idaho City. It's called the "Queen's Tour."

On cool and wet weekends like this, another great alternative is to hang out at a hot springs. I expect that Gold Fork, Burgdorf, Baumgartner, Bonneville, Kirkham and others will be popular spots.  

Try to stay warm and dry, and above all else, have fun! 
- SS

Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning in Boise at approximately 7:10 a.m. Here's the audio from this blog topic. You can hear archived audio segments on River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each at, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.