Thursday, June 17, 2021

Snow levels receding, new bear-proof coolers required in the Sawtooth NRA and Brundage Mountain opens for the season!

What's the snow level in the mountains? Depends on location! Pioneers might be a good bet!
Steve, Wendy and Tim Nelson near Goat Lake in the Pioneer Mountains.

Hi all, 

It's been getting hot here in mid-June, and the snow is melting rapidly in the high country. Many people are yearning to go backpacking and camping at high mountain lakes, but that's still a bit iffy in many locations ... tho not far away! 

Backcountry snow report: The good news is that snow levels are receding to the 9,000-foot level in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Trails out of Stanley Lake, Redfish Lake, Atlanta and Big Boulder Creek trailheads are all open ... although you may run into snow at the mountain lakes above. 

The Forest Service reports that there's still snow blocking portions of the Alice-Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooths, but the Iron Creek Trail leading to Alpine Lake and Sawtooth Lake is open to Sawtooth Lake. The lake itself is still reportedly frozen, but certainly on the melt! 

In the Payette National Forest, you still can't drive over Lick Creek Summit to reach Yellow Pine; snow is blocking the way. If you want to go to Yellow Pine, you can get there via Cascade - Warm Lake Highway to Landmark - Johnson Creek Road to Yellow Pine. The road to Landmark is open, so that means the campsites in that higher-elevation area are open, plus that's another way to reach Deadwood Reservoir. 

North of McCall, the road to Burgdorf and Warren is open. Not sure if Loon Lake Loop is passable yet. Bear Pete Trail from Cloochman Saddle might be snowy in places. 20-Mile Trail would be fine. Snowslide Trail and Box Lake trails likely still have snow. 

Call the local ranger stations closest to where you're thinking of going to get the latest information on snow levels and trail information. 

The Pioneer Mountains might be one of the better choices since that area didn't get as much snow last winter. You can get into the Pioneers via the East Fork of the Big Wood trailhead on Idaho Highway 75 or Trail Creek Road, leading to numerous access points in Copper Basin and the surrounding area. Here's a trip report on a great hike that Wendy and I did to Goat Lake and Betty Lake in the Pioneers. 

Going camping in the Sawtooth NRA? Don't forget your bear-proof cooler! 

FYI - The Forest Service has instituted a new policy regarding food coolers in the Sawtooth NRA area (Sawtooths and White Clouds, outside of the wilderness areas). Here's a link to the "Bear Aware" web page ... if you're picnicking or car-camping in the Sawtooth NRA, you are required to pack your food in a bear-resistant cooler (if left outside), inside your vehicle, inside a building or suspended 10 feet above the ground. The Forest Service is apparently writing tickets about this issue, so be Bear Aware!   

Food storage rules are in effect for this area.

Bogus Basin, Tamarack and Brundage Mountain open for the summer 

I rode Around the Mountain at Bogus Basin two weeks ago when it first opened, and it was outstanding! The creeks were roaring, and the trail wasn't dusty. That will change quickly! Still the wildflowers were spectacular! Quinn and I rode the 10-mile trail together just a week or so after he returned from college. Heading up to Bogus to enjoy a scenic chairlift ride, take a thrilling ride on the Mountain Coaster, go hiking or hang out and have a beer and a sandwich are all good options at Bogus. See the Bogus event calendar for more activities coming up!

Hiking at Brundage on a sun-kissed day

Brundage Mountain
is opening for the summer season on Friday, June 18. Mountain biking and hiking trails are open top to bottom! Hidden Valley bike trails are closed still, but Zorro (double-diamond) is open. See the Brundage link for more information on operating hours in the coming weeks. Brundage also has a new trails conditions page

Brundage also will host a 4th of July Music Fest featuring the Dusty Huckleberries, French, Evans & Barr, and Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs. There's also a TGIF music series starting with West Mountain Takeover on Friday, June 19. See the Brundage events calendar for the whole lineup this summer.

Tamarack Resort is open for the summer season as well with scenic chairlift rides 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., lift-served mountain biking 7 days a week, food and beverage at the base area, zip lines and boat rentals. Chairlifts will be closed this weekend for the Northwest Challenge 3D Bow Hunt event, and on June 26-27 for the Northwest Cup Downhill Bike Races. Otherwise, the mountain is yours! 

Tamarack also is providing a live music series at Crusty's Restaurant in the village on Tuesday nights. See the Tamarack event calendar for the whole summer lineup of activities.

There you have it! Have a wonderful weekend!
- SS

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