Thursday, June 13, 2019

Go see the North Fork Championship, plus a high country condition report

A kayaker cuts hard-left to go around the gate behind the rock near the top of Jake's. (Courtesy Canoe/Kayak) 

Hi all,

Many of the best kayakers from around the world are coming to Idaho this week to compete in the North Fork Championship on the mighty North Fork of the Payette River. KTVB-TV reported that 180 athletes from 18 countries will compete for the $5,000 top prize.

I highly recommend that you go watch the main event on Saturday! It starts at 1 p.m. on Jacob's Ladder, one of the most challenging sections of gnarly Class 5 whitewater in North America. These paddlers will be not only surviving the churning whitewater, but also running gates in the middle of Jake's, and that's when things can get interesting!

Take a look:

(Video courtesy Outside mag)

Jacob's Ladder is located about half-way from Banks to Smith's Ferry on one of those rare places in the north-bound lanes where there's a passing lane on a long uphill. That's the spot! Find a place to pull over on the shoulder, or bring a bike and find a better place to park and hang out when the race is over.

I find it totally invigorating just watching the expert kayakers trying to navigate the big and bold features on the North Fork at an incredibly fast speed. The whitewater is ferocious! It seems to eat people until they emerge on the other side of the wave or hole and keep on paddling. It's just totally impressive!

On Thursday night, June 13, they're showing a series of whitewater films at the Egyptian Theater. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Raffle items will be given away from NRS, Immersion Research, Astral, Dagger Kayak, Werner paddles, GoPro's, and many others. I'm sure the footage will be amazing! 

Speaking of rivers, you might have noticed that river-boating season is upon us! Time to dust off the kayaks, rafts, SUPs, etc., and go paddling! 

The North Fork of the Payette River was running just under 3,000 cfs at Banks on Thursday, so the rapids on the Cabarton section of the North Fork would be really fun right now. There'd be plenty of current to SUP the North Fork from Cascade to Cabarton, and the South Fork and Main Payette are rocking as well! Now that it's getting hot, it's time to hit the rivers! The Salmon River was running 31,000 cfs at Whitebird on Thursday. That'd make for a big ride in Riggins! Here's a link to all Idaho river flows.  

Need info. on Payette River flat-water and whitewater trips? See my guide, Paddling the Payette, which has details descriptions and maps to 24 day trips on the Payette River. 
Tuesday evening in Ponderosa State Park at the top of the Huckleberry Trail.

Osprey Point in Ponderosa State Park is my happy place, overlooking Payette Lake. 
High-country condition report: I spent a few days in McCall this week, and it's absolutely gorgeous in Long Valley right now, with tall green grass flowing in the breeze, flowers popping, and the snow receding in the mountain tops. 

I checked with the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth national forests to get an idea on snow level. I'm hearing snow levels are generally in the 7,000-8,000 range, but in the north slopes and shadows, it would be much lower than that.

  • Low-elevation trails in the McCall area are all in great shape right now, and ripe for the plucking. This includes trails at Ponderosa State Park, Payette Rim Trail, Jug Mountain Ranch and Tamarack. The North Valley Trail is in perfect condition, too. 
  • Brundage Mountain is opening this weekend. There's too much snow at the summit to allow top-to-bottom mountain biking. People will be able to ride both directions on bike trails from the base area, in the meantime. There's a Father's Day Brunch on Sunday. See web site for details. 
  • Some tidbits from the Sawtooth NRA
    • Alice Lake-Toxaway Loop is snowed in. 
    • 4th of July Trailhead is snowed in. 
    • Iron Creek trail may be clear to Alpine Lake, but not Sawtooth. 
    • You can't get to Bridal Veil Falls from Stanley Lake because of a high water creek crossing. 
    • Mosquitoes are reportedly numerous. 
  •  Tidbits from the Payette National Forest - The county plowed the road to Burgdorf, Secesh Meadows and Warren, so that should be open. Lick Creek Summit is still snow-bound. Most high lakes may be snow-bound. Little-used camp sites and campgrounds on the South Fork Salmon River are recommended ... they are lower-elevation.
  • I didn't get any intel from the Boise National Forest, so you might check with a ranger district if you're heading that way. 
Steve talks about his weekly outdoor tip with Ken Bass and Deb Coursen Smith on 94.9 FM The River at approximately 7:40 a.m. on Fridays. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sign up for the Boise Trails Challenge! Ride all of the Boise R2R trails in 30 days!

Nick Smith riding near the Boise Ridge - He's ridden all the R2R Trails in a month 3 years in a row ...

Nick Smith and a friend out riding the trails. 
Hi all,

Have you heard about the Boise Trails Challenge? 

I heard about it off-hand in a few casual conversations, and then I saw it on Facebook the other day. The idea is to ride 158 miles, covering 83 trails and 193 trail segments, including nearly all of the Ridge to Rivers trails, in one month. It's a friendly race against the clock. Hook up your Strava device to the Boise Trails Challenge, pay a modest registration fee, and join the fun, all brought to you by

This year the event is being held from June 21-July 21, so you have a little time to get plugged in! Three-hundred mountain bikers are signed up already! I think the event is open to runners and hikers, too.

Boise realtor Nick Smith, 40, has done it three years in a row, two of them before it became a real event. "My brother and I thought it'd be cool to ride all of the trails as fast as possible in a month," Smith says.

Last year, he did all of the trails in 18 days over 16 rides, covering 281 miles and more than 50,000 vertical feet. Wow! Who needs to go to Moab when you can absolutely work your body riding the rich variety of trails and landscapes right here at home! Smith hit all the trails while balancing his work life and raising three kids.

Apparently, some absolute hard-core competitive racers knocked out the course in several days. Can you imagine?

"I love mountain biking -- it's my favorite thing to do," he says. "I think we're spoiled with the quality of trails that we have in Boise."

What kind of rides have you been doing, lately? Riding Sidewinder-Fat Tire every time you ride? Corrals Loop? Watchman? Let's face it, a lot of people are stuck in a rut, and they're not necessary trying anything new ...

"How many of Boise’s amazing trails have you tried? The Boise Trails Challenge is an annual month-long challenge to complete as many of Boise’s trails as you can during a single month. You’ll discover new favorite trails, break out of your routine, test your endurance, and compete for prizes!"

I see this as a great way to celebrate our trails ... people can sign up, even if they don't think they can do every ride as an incentive to just see what you're capable of!

Smith thinks that strong intermediate riders could do it. He's got a buddy who has mountain biked for for only two years, and he completed the Boise Trails Challenge in 30 days.

The cool thing about participating in the challenge is that the Strava app will sync with the interactive trail map on the web site, and it'll track your progress, and keep you informed as to what trails you have left to cover. After each trail is ridden, the trail segment will fill with a different color than the interactive map to show you're done that one.

I asked Smith about his strategy. He recommends sitting down with a hard copy of the Ridge to Rivers map, and plan out your rides to try to be efficient and avoid duplication. "I sat down and planned when and where I was going to ride," he says.

He tried to vary his rides between super-challenging long hard climbs and easier trails with less climbing. This was Day #1 for him: a 45-mile ride, starting in Camelsback, up Hulls to the motorcycle parking area, down Trail #1 to Bob's, then up Highlands Trail to Corrals, then up Hard Guy to Sheep Camp to Dry Creek, then up Sweet Connie to Eastside, part of Around the Mountain Trail and down the ridge road back to Boise ... I might have missed a few things in there, but man, that's one heck of a day's ride!

"It's a fun way to explore Boise," Smith says. "I just want to improve on my time from last year. I'm competing pretty much against myself."

Prizes: All participants will receive wool Boise Trails socks ($18 retail value), and finishers and winners will get even more stuff, and there are random prizes and drawings, too.

I highly recommend the Boise Trails Challenge! I personally would like to try it, and even if you don't want to try to do all the trails in a month, set your own goal and try to cover all 158 miles at your own pace. Just to knock out all the trails in one summer season would be impressive as well!

Sometimes it takes a big goal to improve your fitness, get stronger, maybe lose some weight, and earn it the hard way by taking on the mountain! The mountains don't care, I notice, how fast you go or how you're feeling that day. They are the great equalizer!
- SS 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Give back on National Trails Day, Morning Star story contest and Raptor Fest in Kuna!

What's your story? Enter the Morning Star story contest to win a triple chair for your front yard!
Oh my goodness, the weather looks fab this weekend in the Boise Valley! Temperatures will be nudging 80 degrees in the afternoons ... and things should start to dry out after a long series of rainy days in Idaho!

For my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommending a hodge-podge of activities for the weekend, including three National Trails Day events on Saturday, a new story contest for a Morning Star chairlift from Bogus Basin, and another event on Saturday, the Snake River Raptor Fest at Indian Creek Winery, where I'll be speaking about Morley Nelson, the great champion for birds of prey at 2 p.m., and give some tips about recreation outings in the Snake River canyon.

Put some sweat equity back into your favorite trails. (Courtesy Land Trust of the Treasure Valley)
First for National Trails Day, you can do your part to give back to our beloved trail systems and  public lands by participating in one of three events on Saturday, June 1:
  • Volunteer cleanup event by the Oregon Trail reserve on BLM land near Columbia Village. See Facebook invite for details. Hours are 9-11 a.m. Sponsored by the BLM, Ridge to Rivers, the Oregon-California Trails Association and more. Contact for details. 
  • BBP Goathead Challenge - From June 1 - July 31 BBP is encouraging people to pull goatheads around trails and their neighborhoods. Click on link for details. June 22 is a community-wide effort coming up soon. Prizes for large quantities of goat heads pulled. Drop the spoils at the Northend Nursery or dispose of them in your compost bin.
  • Boise REI, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and Hidden Springs will be hosting a trail maintenance project on the Cartwright Ridge Trail from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the Hidden Springs Community Barn.     
Ok, now for the Bogus Basin story contest to win a much-prized Morning Star triple chair! The Morning Star chairlift is being replaced this summer with a faster quad. The retro triple chairs are proving to be quite popular!

The story contest is all going to happen really fast! "From marriage proposals to memorable mishaps, Bogus Basin’s Morning Star Chairlift Story Contest has become a sentimental journey for local ski enthusiasts. The story contest, which runs now through June 2, represents a chance for one lucky winner to own a unique piece of Bogus Basin history by sharing their memories from riding the lift," says marketing director Susan Saad.

Bogus has provided a series of opportunities for fans to win chairs from the decommissioned lift,
including an online auction, two raffles, and now the story contest. A second and final online auction is planned for June.

The winner of the story contest will be selected by a panel of two judges - Betsy Russell, the leading  state government reporter in Idaho for the Idaho Press, and yours truly. Betsy has been an avid skier for decades, plus she's the president of the Idaho Press Club. She and I used to race together for the Statesman on Monday nights at Bogus.

Entries are due by June 2. Mail entries to by June 2nd. Entrants must be at least 18 years old, only one submission is allowed per person, and the stories must be limited to 250 words or less. Photos are optional, but not required. The winner will be announced on June 7th.

Bogus is open for the summer season BTW! See their web site for more information on what to do, but you can do scenic chairlift rides, ride the Mountain Coaster, there's food and drink, and more! 

Love this painting of Morley! Come learn more about this man on Saturday at Raptor Fest.
The Snake River Raptor Fest runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Indian Creek Winery. The event was very well-attended last year for the 25th anniversary of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. There's live music, food and drink throughout the afternoon, plus presentations!

Indian Creek Winery will be serving a variety of their fine wines, and Lost Grove Brewing will be pouring cold beer. Bang on the Wall Burgers, Crisp, Melt, and the STIL will be serving amazing burgers and fries, globally eclectic food, and delicious ice cream.

Schedule of informal presentations:

1:00pm — Heather Hayes, Research Biologist, Intermountain Bird Observatory 
"The Long-billed Curlew: Tracking A Species of Greatest Conservation Need"

2:00pm —
Steve Stuebner, Award-winning Author and Morley Nelson Biographer
"Conservation and Recreation in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area." Steve will sign copies of Cool North Wind at the event.

— Mike Kochert, Scientist Emeritus, USGS, and the NCA's first Biologist
"Fifty Years of Studying Golden Eagles in Southwestern Idaho: What Have We Learned?"

4:00pm — Juli McCoy, Programs Manager for Canyon County Parks Cultural and Natural Resources
"What's Going on Out There? A History of Cultural Resources in the Snake River Canyon"

Wow, all of those sound pretty darn interesting! There also will be exhibitors at Raptor Fest, and I'm fairly certain that Monte Tish will be there with Morley's golden eagle, "Slim." 

Have a great weekend! 
- SS    

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Drive the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway or hike two off-beat locations in the Owyhee Canyonlands

Sheep Creek below Mary's Creek ... very remote spot with plenty of solitude.

Huck checks out Sheep Creek
War Eagle Mountain can been seen in the distance behind Steve. Hiking to the west of Toy Pass is easy with big views.
Hi all,

The weather appears to be turning cool and moist heading into the weekend. Saturday looks like the most promising day to go hiking, with no chance of rain and a high of 65 degrees. Perfect conditions for a hike in the Owyhee Canyonlands!

For people in the know, the Owyhees are a great place to explore in the spring before the summer heat comes to SW Idaho and the rattlesnakes come out in the high desert. And if you don't know much about the Owyhees, you can pick up a copy of my Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook, which features 55 hiking and biking routes in the greater area, plus a guide to the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway.
Here are three destinations:

1. Drive the 100-mile Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway and enjoy a big-picture overview of the Owyhee Mountains and Owyhee Plateau. The drive can be done in a day. The byway has a good-quality dirt road that travels out into "The Big Wide Open" (no services, BTW) and eventually drops back to civilization in Jordan Valley, Oregon. I recommend starting on the byway in Grand View and traveling in a east-to-west direction to Jordan Valley. Pack a lunch, some beverages and enjoy the drive. The backcountry byway will pass many intriguing areas, such as the Antelope Springs Road, Deep Creek junction, Nickel Creek Table and the North Fork of the Owyhee BLM campsite, the only developed campsite on the 100-mile byway. The byway is suitable for 2WD vehicles. But make sure your spare tire is in good shape. Again, there are no services out there, and no mobile service.

Wendy pretends she's an eagle on top of the Owyhee Mountains near Toy Pass. Bachman Grade Road can be seen below. 
2. Toy Pass - I've got 2 hikes in the Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook that start and finish at Toy Pass, accessed from the Bachman Grade Road, south of the little town of Oreana, between Murphy and Grand View in the Owyhee Front. Toy Pass sits at 5,875-foot elevation, south of Oreana. Drive to Toy Pass, do a day hike from the pass to the mountains on either side of the road, and then either go look for a campsite afterwards or head back home. To reach Toy Pass, take Simco Road to Grand View. Go right on ID 78 in Grand View and travel west to Oreana. Watch for a road sign for the historic Owyhee town. Turn left and drive 2 miles into town. Bear right at Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Catholic Church at the corner, and take the Bachman Grade Road to Toy Pass. It's about 13.5 miles to the top. This road is suitable for 2WD vehicles. Park at the pass and decide which mountain you'd like to climb. See maps below for hiking to the west or to the east. Both routes are about 5 miles.

Map courtesy of Owyhee Canyonlands: An Outdoor Adventure Guide.

3. Mary's Creek/Sheep Creek Wilderness. Mary's Creek is an easy-to-access tributary of Sheep Creek Canyon, which is one of the BLM wilderness areas in the Owyhee Canyonlands. There is a self-support camping area at the "trailhead" next to Roland Road. You could camp there, and then do the Mary's Creek Loop, hiking into the bottom of spectacular Sheep Creek Canyon, and then hike back. You also could backpack into Sheep Creek Canyon and camp there. The full loop detailed in our guidebook is 8.75 miles, with 1,400 feet of vertical gain/loss. Scenic hike and nice spot to camp. To reach Mary's Creek, take ID 51 south of Bruneau about 40 miles to a signed turnoff for the Rowland Road by the old bar and junk yard at Grasmere. Turn left on Rowland Road and follow that 5.2 miles to the Mary's Creek trailhead. There's a BLM kiosk at the trailhead.

Views of Sheep Creek from the rim above.
Map of the Mary's Creek Loop
There you have it!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Try floating the tranquil Middle Fork Payette River as a relaxing alternative to whitewater

Idyllic scene on the Middle Fork Payette River, Laurie Anderson, Cymry Reed, Joanie Faucie and Wendy in Big Red.
Hi all,

I'm sure everyone is enjoying the fabulous weather, and this weekend should be incredible with temperatures in the 80s! 

With warm weather, our whitewater rivers will be rising as the deep snowpack melts in the mountains. The white-knuckle whitewater enthusiasts will be out on the South Fork Payette River and North Fork Payette for an adrenaline-charged experience.

Last Sunday, we decided to go for a more low-key experience on the Middle Fork of the Payette River, near Crouch in Garden Valley. This is an often-overlooked river trip at this time of year, but right now, the flows are perfect for Stand-Up Paddle-Boarding (SUP), canoeing, inflatable kayaking, sit-on-top kayaks, and rafting. There are no rapids, but many bends in the river, so that is your main navigational challenge. Might be a good call for a Mother's Day float!

More of our crew, Mishel, Jim and Pam from McCall, and Mark Anderson on the SUP
It's an 8-mile reach that starts at Tie Creek Campground, about nine miles north of Crouch, and flows by a diverse array of cabins and shacks on the river bank, with forested mountains in the distance. It's a very scenic float trip, plus it's fun to check out the cabins. It takes about 3 hours to do the float. Take your time, bring a lunch and enjoy the trip. 

The river flow is increasing a bit toward 2,000 cfs. That is a sweet level!  

Plant a shuttle vehicle in Crouch at the take-out before you go, or have friends pick you up. There is a detailed description and map about this day trip in my guidebook, Paddling the Payette, a guide to 24 day trips on the Payette River. The book is available at Idaho River Sports and Alpenglow Mountainsport. 

We did lunch at Mishel's cabin on the Middle Fork.
If you've got the time, bring your camping gear and hang out in the Middle Fork area. There are numerous car-camping spots along the Middle Fork ... some are developed campgrounds with water and fire pits, etc., and some are less developed. I am not sure if the Forest Service campgrounds are open yet. You also could stay at a bed & breakfast or the Garden Valley Hotel. See the Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce for more information on lodging. 
The other thing to consider when you're in Crouch is to visit the Longhorn Restaurant & Saloon. I love their burgers. The Longhorn has 16 different beers on tap. You also could play a round of scenic golf at the Terrace Lakes Resort, or eat dinner at Terrace Lakes. The food is good and prices are reasonable. Other activities in the area include numerous hot springs, both primitive and developed.

Waving to folks at their cabins along the way
Have fun!
- SS

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Four spring hikes close to Boise that'll get your legs broken in for the 2019 season!

Nature Girl: Wendy Wilson enjoys the Five Mile Creek-Watchman-Three Bears hike last Saturday.
Hi all,

My outdoor tip of the week focuses on four spring hikes close to home that'll get your legs and lungs warmed up for the 2019 hiking season!

I detailed the hikes in an outdoors article this week in the Idaho Press. Follow the link to read all about the hikes!

The hikes are:
1. Five Mile-Watchman-Three Bears - East Boise Foothills. 6 miles. About 3 hours travel time. Rated moderate to strenuous.
2. Station Creek to Bald Mountain in Garden Valley out and back. 7 miles. About 4 hours travel time. Rated moderate to strenuous.
3. Hillside to the Hollow Trails. Distance: You make the call. Easy and up.
4. Kepros Mountain out and back. Distance: 10 miles. 4+ hours travel time. Rated strenuous.

All of the hikes are featured in Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. 

See the Idaho Press article for more information.
- SS 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Try floating the Owyhee River with friends or an outfitter - it's spectacular!

My son Drew is ready to roll at the Rome put-in for the Lower Owyhee River.
Bonnie, Rico, Kelley and Lawrence enjoy hanging out in camp on the afternoon of Day 3, below Montgomery Rapids.
Spectacular spot for our camp on night 3.
Hi all,

I managed to get out of town last weekend for a 4-day trip on the Lower Owyhee River. We launched on the warmest day of the year last Friday, when the mercury hit 80 degrees, and amazingly enough, there were a ton of parties launching on the river as well! Imagine that!
Because of deep snow in the Owyhee and Jarbidge-Bruneau river basins last winter, this spring offers a rare, and great chance to float those rivers when the water is high enough to go (April - June). If you don't have your own raft and whitewater gear, consider going with an outfitter. I'd recommend Far & Away Adventures, Wilderness River Outfitters, Barker River Expeditions, and ROW Adventures. Please see press release that I wrote for the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.
One of the big advantages of floating the Lower Owyhee is that you follow a paved road (U.S. 95) to the boat-launch site in Rome, Ore. To float the upper forks of the Owyhee, you have to drive for many miles on unimproved 4WD dirt roads that turn into major quicksand-like gumbo after lots of rain. So we had no worries about being able to reach the river last week, even though it had been wet.

Dad and Drew are bundled up on the morning of Day 3.
We took four days to float 48 miles to the Birch Creek takeout, upstream of Owyhee Reservoir. At a flow of 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), it should have been quite easy to make our river miles. But that isn't how things turned out. After a beautiful, warm and tranquil day on Day 1, we had driving rain, headwinds, thunder and lightning on Day 2. High temperatures were probably in the 40s. Then we had big headwinds on Day 3, but luckily, the skies were clear -- just a cutting Northwest wind. Good thing we came ready to dress very warm!

At 4,000 cfs, the river is comparatively wide and most of the rocks are covered. So from a whitewater perspective, it's a pretty easy and mellow level with good current and fun waves.

The Lower Owyhee has mostly Class 2 rapids, with a few Class 3's and one Class 4, called Montgomery. I would rate that Class 3+ personally. Montgomery is not that hard. You have to pull away from a left-side wall as the current races around a left-hand bend. It's a pretty straight-forward maneuver, compared to Class 4 rapids that require multiple maneuvers around rocks or holes.

We had four major highlights on our trip:
1. Birds of Prey were everywhere! Golden eagles, kestrels, northern harriers, prairie falcons and other hawks were flying around the cliffs, diving toward the water and nesting in the cliffs. Plus, we saw pairs of geese on virtually every corner, some with goslings, a few pairs of mergansers and some mallards.
2. Volcanic rock formations on the Lower Owyhee are spectacular. The types of rock spans from black basalt lava similar to the Jordan Craters, to rhyolite red cliffs, basalt cliffs and many spires, hoodoos and other formations. It's fun to just stare in awe at these features and feel small.
3. Recent rainfall and good snowpack made the desert landscape the deepest shade of green imaginable. We must have caught the green-up at its peak. But the flowers were just starting to pop because it's been such a late spring. 
4. Camping out, campfires, S'mores, great meals and great people. I love camping out in general, and we brought a bunch of firewood for a campfire every night in my fire pan. For the night I cooked, I brought all of the key ingredients for S'mores, and everyone really enjoyed that. I got to bring my son, Drew, along for the trip, and he's really turning into an excellent river camper. Great bonding time for Dad and Drew.

Cool nooks and crannies to explore.
If you go, make sure you have enough time to do some side-hiking. The area around Pruitt's Castle is a great place to hike, Hike-out camp is another sweet hiking spot early in the trip, and below Whistling Bird Rapids, there's a sweet campsite with a way to hike to the top of the rim and enjoy big views of the canyon. From that viewpoint, it's amazing how small you can feel, being a tiny little speck amid the giant Owyhee River Plateau.

All I can say is getting away on an Owyhee, Bruneau or Jarbidge-Bruneau trip is good medicine for the soul. And you know, right at that moment, that you're extremely fortunate to experience it.
A few notes on happenings this weekend:
  • Idaho Whitewater Association used equipment sale 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Cascade River Gear.  
  • Sheep in the Foothills - A band of sheep is moving through the Boise Foothills as we speak for the next week or so. Watch the Life on the Range Facebook page or Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for sheep locations. 
The sheep were north of the Corrals Trailhead and Miller Gulch Trailhead on Wednesday, April 24.

- SS

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Go spring skiing on last weekend at Bogus, Brundage or try Wilson Creek in the Owyhees

Cottonwood Creek jumped out of its banks and washed out Rocky Canyon Road.
ACHD is working to restore the road before the Race to Robie Creek next Saturday. 
Hi all,

With all the incessant rainy weather we've been having in the Boise Valley and beyond, I've been thinking that, hey, I can always recommend Ol' Rocky Reliable - my term for Rocky Canyon Road - as a good alternative for hiking, trail-running and mountain biking when the foothills trails are wet and muddy.

That's what Wendy and I did last Sunday to take our dog Huck on a short walk. If we'd gone up the road 3.5 miles, we would have run into a major washout on Rocky Canyon Road. Take a look at the video above ... ACHD is in the midst of working to repair the road today (Thursday, April 11), and so they have closed Rocky Canyon Road to public use to allow heavy equipment operators and engineers restore the road. The road is closed until repairs are completed. No time estimated has been given as yet.

The Race to Robie Creek is coming up next Saturday, April 20, so all of the walkers and trail-runners are surely itching to continue training for the "toughest half-marathon in the Northwest." This year's theme is the "Birth of the Wonder Toad." It's always a hoot!

So anyway, I can't even recommend Ol' Rocky Reliable this week. Fortunately, the weather is supposed to dry out on Friday, and Saturday looks like the best day of the weekend for a little outdoor exploration. High temperatures are forecast in the low 60s in the Boise Valley and full sun is expected all day. Really? Sunday looks like rain and crapola.

So here are my recommendations:

Pond-skimming at Bogus Basin (Courtesy Bogus Basin) 
1. Enjoy the last weekend of operations at Bogus Basin or Brundage Mountain and go spring skiing. High temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-40s with sunshine at Bogus on Saturday, and 40 degrees at Brundage with partial sunshine. Bring your own BBQ if you want for a little tailgate action!

Bogus Basin is hosting a pond-skimming event from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, and a Boxzilla event from 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. on Saturday, a raffle for a Morning Star 2-person classic chair on Saturday, and a  PBR Ribbon Hunt until Sunday, along with live music from High Pine Whiskey Yell. Bogus closes for the season after the ski day on Sunday.   

Brundage has a Gelande Quaff beer-catching and drinking event on Saturday, and the Dodgy Mountain Men are playing live music that day. Brundage closes on Sunday at the end of the ski day at 4:30 p.m.

Both mountains have plenty of snow for AT and Tele skiers who will be climbing for their runs in the coming weeks.
Harrison Hollow all-weather trail is a great choice in inclement weather. 
2. Go hiking, trail-running or biking on Boise Foothills trails if they dry out. Refer to the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for the latest conditions and recommendations. I went hiking in the Harrison Hollow area last night with Huck, and the high winds dried out the trails amazingly quickly. Please tread lightly and don't damage the trails. If mud is sticking to your shoes or your bike tires, please turn around.

As an alternative, here's my post from March that recommended a number of excellent destinations with all-weather trails, including Eagle Island State Park, Hyatt Hidden Lakes, Harrison Hollow,

3. Go hiking or biking in the Wilson Creek area in the Owyhees on Saturday. The weather looks best for doing the Wilson Creek-Reynolds Creek hiking loop on Saturday. The loop is 7.5 miles, starting from the Wilson Creek Road trailhead, south of Nampa, on the south side of the Snake River.

Here are directions and a description to the hike: You take ID 45 south of Nampa toward Murphy. Cross the Snake River, turn right and head for Marsing. Watch for Wilson Creek Road on the left. Take Wilson Creek Road to the BLM trailhead for Trail #300 on the left side of the road. Park. The hike starts here.

Follow Trail #300 over to a junction with a dirt road. Go left on Road #410 and follow that over to the China Ditch Trail #600 in Reynolds Creek canyon. This is the best part of the hike. Go upcanyon on Trail #600 and enjoy the redrock canyon of Reynolds Creek. Good place for lunch. When the canyon opens up, you'll see a junction with Trail #510, which heads back over to the junction with Trail #400. Take that trail back to the parking lot.

Reynolds Creek canyon is a gorgeous spot, no matter if you're hiking or biking. 
Robie Creek Runners would enjoy doing that loop as a trail-run, and for more elevation, they could do the Wilson Creek Mini-Moab route that I pioneered with my mountain bike years ago for the Mountain Biking in Idaho guidebook. That loop is 15.6 miles. It's detailed in my Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook as well. You basically start at the lower Wilson Creek Trailhead and follow the main Wilson Creek BLM dirt road 6.5 miles uphill to a left-hand turn on a primitive road to the top shoulder of Wilson Peak, about 2,000 feet of vertical from the start. You follow the rocky primitive road around the east side of Wilson Peak and drop down to a valley that intersects Trail #400 and Trail #300 returning to the Wilson Creek Trailhead.
- SS