Thursday, June 28, 2018

Heading to Stanley for 4th of July? Five rock-solid ideas for hiking and biking in the area

Group at Bench Lakes (courtesy of Knowles Gallery.) 
Hi all,

I sure am enjoying the cooler weather that we're experiencing right now, and it is expected to stay on the cooler side for the 4th of July holiday if you're planning on heading into the mountains. High temperatures are expected to be in the low 70s in the mountains this weekend (60s on Friday), and continuing into next week for the holiday. Perfect weather for hiking and biking!

I did a post recently on some popular and scenic trails that are open for hiking and biking in the McCall area, and so for this week, I'm recommending 5 rock-solid ideas in the Stanley area. These are mostly hikes and one ride. Overall, I am hearing that snow levels are between 8,500-9,000 feet in the Stanley area, creek crossings are high and hazardous (bring hiking poles and a rope for safety), but the snow is melting quickly. 

As you break out of the trees on the Boundary Creek Trail, the views get more and more spectacular. 
1. Boundary Creek Trail in the White Cloud Mountains - The Boundary Creek Trail rises steeply from the valley floor (trailhead is across Idaho 75 from the Sawtooth Hatchery), and for that reason, the trail affords magnificent views of the Sawtooth Valley, the Sawtooth Mountains and Redfish Lake as you climb the mountain. Here's an online map of the trail. It's about 3 miles to the top, and 2,000 feet of climbing. Rated strenuous but worth the effort for the big view! This trail is best for hiking, but hard-core strong bikers could climb it as well.

Bridal Veil Falls (courtesy of Idaho Campground Review) 
2. Hike to Bridal Veil Falls from Stanley Lake - Roundtrip distance is about 8 miles. Only 570 feet of elevation gain. Rated easy to moderate. This is a popular hike for good reason ... it's very scenic at the falls. Here's a nice writeup on the trip with a short video of the falls. 

3. Hike to Bench Lakes from Redfish Lake Lodge - Take the Bench Lakes trail from the trailhead next to Redfish Lake Lodge and hike to one of the lower Bench Lakes. The uppermost lakes are likely to be snow-bound. There are five lakes overall. Here's a nice writeup from the Outbound Collective. Distance round-trip is about 8 miles, depending on which lake you go to. Rated easy to moderate.

Hell Roaring Lake (courtesy of Idaho Campground Review)
4. Hike to Hell Roaring Lake or Imogene Lake in the Sawtooths - It's an easy 5.5-mile hike to Hell Roaring Lake in the Sawtooths. You'll need a 4WD vehicle to reach the trailhead. The trail is pretty flat, less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. But the payoff is big with spectacular views of the Sawtooths at the lake, and super cool view of the Finger of Fate. See writeup and pics courtesy of Matt Leidecker, author of excellent full-color guides to the Sawtooths and the White Clouds.

Margie and a couple of teen-age boys loved the Potato Mountain Ride ... Quinn wasn't so sure at the time. 
5. Ride the Potato Mountain Loop near Stanley - This is one of my favorite bike rides. The crossing of Big Basin Creek might be kind of gnarley this time of year, but it sure is fun to do the ride. It's about 13.5 miles to do the loop. It starts out kind of steep but once you get over the hill and drop into Little Basin Creek, you're smiling all the way. The trail runs very close to the creek. See full description on the MTB Project site. I took my son Quinn on this ride when he was about 13, and he whined most of the way, but he survived. Several other teen-age kids went with us. So that's an option if you want to take kids.

Have a great 4th of July holiday!
- SS  

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