|Confluence of Middle and South Forks of the Boise River on Arrowrock Reservoir|
|Lots of sweet car camping spots next to the reservoir and in Cottonwood Cr. canyon|
|Cottonwood Creek trail|
|Trailhead is marked on Forest Road #377|
|Saw a few beaver ponds along the way ...|
It looks to be a fabulous warm, sunny weekend -- perfect conditions for doing just about anything outside.
Beyond the obvious things to do close to home, like walking, running or biking on the Greenbelt, SUP'ing at Veterans Pond or Quinn's Pond, early-season kayaking or rafting on the Payette River, or hiking, running or biking in the Boise Foothills, I'm recommending a combination hiking/biking/camping/fishing outing in the Cottonwood Creek area, near Arrowrock Reservoir.
This would be an opportunity to jet out of town -- ideally with your camping gear, groceries for a BBQ, plus a stash of your favorite beverages in an iced cooler -- and do a combination trip in Boise's backyard. The Boise River is filling Arrowrock and Lucky Peak Reservoirs quickly, so the water level at Arrowrock is ideal for hanging out in lawn chairs in the sand at the water's edge, fishing from shore (or from a boat), and car camping in some primo spots right next to the water.
|trip map (click to enlarge)|
Detailed directions: Take Idaho 21 east, across the Mores Creek bridge, and then turn right on USFS Road #268, the road to Spring Shores Marina. Drive 15 miles on the road until you reach a junction with Forest Road #377. Turn left and follow that road 3 miles to the Cottonwood Creek trailhead on the right. There are camping spots at the trailhead and along the last 3 miles to the trailhead.
|Lots of elk sign|
|Creek has some flat benches for camping|
|Huck flushed a few grouse|
You could approach this trip several ways:
- Drive up along Arrowrock Reservoir toward Cottonwood Creek canyon, snag a car-camping spot to your liking in the morning, set up camp to establish your spot, and then go for a day hike. Bring your fishing gear and BBQ stuff for later on.
- Break in your body for backpacking ... backpack up Cottonwood Creek as far as you want to a suitable camping spot that you like, and enjoy hanging out in the canyon. Thorn Butte Lookout (elevation 7,515 feet ) is at the top of the hike, if you want to go for it!
- Head up to Cottonwood Creek for a day hike, take a quick dip in the reservoir after the hike, and then head back to Boise.
- Drive up the Middle Fork Road past the Cottonwood Creek turnoff, look for a great car-camping spot along the Middle Fork, maybe hit a hot springs along the way, and enjoy the weekend. You can take the road all the way to Atlanta. The Idaho City entry points are probably still snowed-in.
- For mountain bikers, I would normally doing the Thorne Butte-Cottonwood Creek clockwise, meaning riding roads and two tracks to the top of Thorne Butte, and descending on the creek. But the top of Thorn Butte is still snow-packed, so you couldn't do the full loop. That should be doable in a few weeks. So for now, try an up-and-back on the Cottonwood Creek trail.
There you have it! Enjoy the weekend!