Thursday, December 29, 2011

High-elevation snow destinations will be best ... or, go hiking in the Snake River canyon

Beautiful smooth ice on Lake Cascade in Cascade. Photo taken on Christmas eve.

Halverson Lake

The trail to Halverson Lake is sandy.

Rock petroglyphs at Celebration Park.

Hi all,

Well, the warm rainy weather in Boise is just totally inspiring, isn't it? Here we've been waiting a month for new precipitation, and then it comes in the form of a pineapple express? How cruel!

I was glad to see that Brundage Mountain is opening on Friday, and Tamarack has opened the Summit chairlift, meaning that you can ski the top half of the mountain where the snow conditions are likely to be best. Either Brundage or Tamarack should be a good bet this weekend, especially after things cool off on Saturday. Probably going to rain at the base areas on Friday, according to the weather forecast. Cross-country skiing at Bear Basin is quite good ... we skied there last week and enjoyed it. See my video.

Downhill skiing at Sun Valley has been excellent on man-made snow in all of the main parts of the mountain, including Seattle Ridge, Warm Springs and River Run. The upper chairlifts at Sun Valley will be best because rain is forecast at the lower elevations through Friday.

The web cams at Bogus Basin indicate that the warm wet weather has not been kind to our favorite local ski mountain. Hopefully, they'll get more snow and open soon.

Cross-country skiing in the Wood River Valley has been excellent -- probably the best anywhere in the state -- because of all the groomed trails open at Galena Lodge, Harriman Trail and everything in between. If you like to xc ski, this is your Shangri-La.

For any snow activity, higher elevations will be best ... particularly above 7,000 feet. That has been the approximate snow level this week. A cold front is supposed to move through on Friday evening, which will bring temperatures down to winter-like conditions. But I don't see any new snow is forecast for the next week.

The Stanley area would be a good bet for backcountry skiing this weekend, but unfortunately, Highway 21 has been closed because of avalanche danger. Dang!

If you're in Boise for the holidays, and you're not necessarily interested in heading for snow-bound areas, I would recommend going to Celebration Park in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area for a good hiking destination, a cool place to see Indian petroglyphs more than 10,000 years old and learn about the Bonneville Flood.

Celebration Park is about 45 minutes from Boise, south of Nampa on state Highway 45. Turn left on Ferry Road just before you cross the Snake River and follow signs to the park. The park and hiking areas nearby are featured in my guidebook, Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home, available on my web site and at many Boise-area book stores and outdoor stores.

The hike to Halverson Lake is about 5 miles round-trip. It's a good place to hike when it's been wet because the trail is sandy. The non-motorized hiking trail follows the Snake River for a ways upstream, and then beelines for Halverson Lake. You may also see people on horseback on the trail. The trip is suitable for mountain bikes as well.

Before hiking to the lake, take some time to look at the petroglyphs on the rock boulders next to the parking area. Sometimes it's easy to understand the message that Native Americans were trying to convey; other times, not so much. But it's fun to guess. The rock inscriptions are apparently about 12,000 years old.

If you'd like to go hiking closer to Boise, check the Ridge to Rivers web site and see what they recommend in the trail blog. It's supposed to rain for much of the day on Friday, so the trails will probably be wet and muddy. Saturday morning, they should be frozen and usable until they thaw out. Please tread lightly!

One other possibility after it gets cold on Saturday ... go ice skating on Lake Cascade in Cascade by the Van Wyck boat ramp. Last week, the ice was absolutely fantastic!

Have a Happy New Year!

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. If you miss the program, you can hear the segments on River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.


Tim Bondy Writes said...

Thanks for the info on getting out and about in Boise. I just went for a hike on Bennett Mountain Road north of Glenns Ferry on Thursday Dec 29, 2011. It's muddy out there. Side roads, trails and off trail hiking is difficult in that my boots collected about 10 pounds of mud with each step. Beautiful hike but staying on established "gravel roads" is the only sane thing to do in my opinion.

Steve Stuebner said...

Thanks Tim - that's great information ... good to know!