Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three yurts in Idaho City Park n' Ski system are open for rent! Make reservations now!

Fresh powder near Stargaze Yurt
Getting ready to shred some *pow* with Quinn 
Hi all,

After lots of hard work by Idaho Parks and Recreation officials and volunteers, three of the popular yurts in the Idaho City Park n' Ski system are available for rent as of today! Make reservations as soon as you can! 

The three yurts that will be open this winter are Stargaze, Skyline and Rocky Ridge.

You can make reservations online by going to: or by calling 1-888-922-6743. Agents are available 7 days a week, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mountain Time, or Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The online system is handy because you can see what dates are booked, and which ones are not.

The Boise National Forest is working on salvage logging in the area at the current time. It's not clear exactly what xc ski and snowshoe trails will be open in the Idaho City Park n' Ski system, says Leo Hennessy, non-motorized trail coordinator for IDPR, but the access trails to all three yurts will be open for sure by the time winter season kicks in.

Leo also expects that the Gold Fork Loop and Skyline Loop will be groomed for winter xc skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking this winter. It's also possible that the Banner Ridge and Elkhorn Loops may be open later in the winter. Loggers are cutting fire-killed trees in there right now.

It's great news that the three yurts will be open for the public to enjoy this winter after the wildfire closures in the aftermath of the Pioneer Fire.

Since I posted this blog on Wednesday morning, many of the open dates for the Idaho City yurts have been reserved. There are still some mid-week openings on the online calendar.

But rest assured, if you'd like to go yurting this winter, there are more options!

  • Sun Valley Trekking has many different yurts and wall tents available for rent in the Smoky Mountains north of Ketchum/Sun Valley and they also have locations in the Pioneer Mountains and in the Sawtooths. 
  • Galena Lodge has four yurts that you can rent in the forested mountains adjacent to miles upon miles of xc ski and snowshoe trails. If you like to xc ski, Galena Lodge is manna from heaven. 
  • Sawtooth Mountain Guides - The Williams Peak yurt is very hard to book because a lot of dates are booked a year in advance. But what the heck, see what they've got available! I see some open dates in December ...  

- SS

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Five September hikes close to Boise - guaranteed to please!

Amy and Robin apparently thought this spot was photogenic! Between the Creeks in the Owyhees. 
Wendy getting ready to take flight on top of a mountain above Toy Pass in the Owyhees 
Hi all,

It's SO NICE to see the hot weather moderating and the skies clearing of smoke! The Boise forecast is calling for highs in the 60s on Friday and Saturday, and 70s on Sunday. That's almost unbelievable considering the string of HOT weather we've had nearly continuously through July and August ...

So my recommendation is to enjoy the cool temperatures and plan a hike this weekend in the Boise Foothills or the Owyhees. All of these hikes are detailed in my guidebooks, Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home, and The Owyhee Canyonlands, an Outdoor Adventure Guide. 

Here are my recommendations for five hikes guaranteed to please:

1. Hulls Gulch National Recreation Trail - Distance: about 5 miles or less. Difficulty: Moderate. Time travel: You make the call. Take the kids and the dog and go for a hike on the Hulls Gulch National Recreation Trail, starting from the BLM motorcycle parking lot about 3 miles up Eighth Street from the North End of Boise. Take the singletrack trail up the gulch, pausing to learn tidbits about geology and nature from the interpretive signs. Eventually, you'll come to a fork on the trail, go right to see the headwaters. Maybe the creek will be running? Turn around and return the way you came.

Exploring granite outcroppings above Hulls Gulch 
2. Dry Creek Trail - Distance: You make the call. Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. Time Travel: You make the call. It's a stout hike to hike on the Dry Creek Trail from the trailhead on Bogus Basin Road to the top of the Boise Ridge, but you really don't have to go that far. Just walk up the creek as far as you'd like, and enjoy the day in the cool, creekside, shady environment. Pack a lunch and enjoy the day! For the hard-cores, it's 6.8 miles to the top of the trail, if you want to do a 15-mile day and power walk it.

3. 5 Mile Creek-Watchman-Three Bears Loop - Distance: 6 miles. Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. Time Travel: 2.5-3 hours. Drive up Rocky Canyon Road from the end of the pavement to the Five Mile Trailhead on the left. The hike starts here. The loop brings you right back to your rig. Pretty cool. Hike up Five Mile Creek several miles to the Orchard Junction, keep going straight along the creek, and the trail turns into Watchman at the top of the steep hill. Follow Watchman as it contours around the mountain, visits another creek, and then descends to the top of the Three Bears grade. Make sure you go left at the junction with Trail #6. Take a breather at the top of the grade, and then it's all downhill to Three Bears junction at the saddle, go left and drop down to Rocky Canyon Road. Go left on the road, and your car is around the corner.

Three Bears Trail heading back to Rocky Canyon Road rounds out the Five Mile-Watchman Loop 
4. Between the Creeks Loop, Owyhee Canyonlands - Distance: 8 miles. Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. Travel time: 5 hours. See my blog post for photos and details of this hike ... it's one of my all-time favorite hikes in the Owyhees, especially because it's relatively close to Boise. Allow 1.5 hours to reach the trailhead, depending on how fast you drive. The scenic hike takes you on an upland tour of West Shoofly Creek and East Shoofly Creek on top of a plateau, hence the name, "Between the Creeks." The rhyolite canyons are craggy and beautiful.

Top of the mountain to the west of Toy Pass
5. Toy Pass, Owyhee Canyonlands - Should be beezy and cool up on Toy Pass this weekend, making for great hiking conditions. Two optional hikes take off from Toy Pass in the Owyhee Front, near Oreana, starting at 5,875 feet. One hike is 5.3 miles exploring the mountain to the east of the pass, and the other is 4.5 miles, exploring the small knob on the west side of the pass. Take I-84 to the Simco Road exit. Turn right on Simco Road and proceed to the state highway. Turn right at the highway and proceed to Grand View. Turn right on ID 78 in Grand View and then take the second left-hand turn to Oreana. Drive through the little town and go past the Basque church, then bear right on the signed Bachman Grade Road. Follow the well-maintained dirt road to the top of Toy Pass (about 13.5 miles). Park at the pass, and decide which mountain you'd like to climb from there. There are some nice car-camping spots on the south side of the pass, heading toward Triangle.
- SS