Thursday, October 21, 2021

Fleeting fall colors in Idaho; Mountain Snow coming next week; Ski Swaps coming up

Colorful scene in upper Dry Creek on a quiet mid-week afternoon. 

Hi all, 

It's been a treat to watch the fall colors ablaze throughout Idaho in recent weeks after the hot and smoky summer. But starting tomorrow, Mother Nature is about to turn the page to winter and mountain snow in the high country, and continue into next week. 

The weekend ahead looks pretty rainy in the valleys, but in the breaks between storms, maybe you can take a hike, run, bike ride or scenic drive to enjoy the fall colors perhaps at their peak right now, before the storms below the leaves off the trees and the tamaracks in Valley County lose their golden needles. 

As a reminder, here are some recommended trails in the Ridge to Rivers trail system for seeing fall colors ... (please stay off muddy trails when they're wet!): 

  • Watchman Trail 
  • Shingle Creek Trail 
  • Dry Creek Trail 
  • Freddy's Stack Rock Trail 
  • New connector trail to Stack Rock 
  • Peggy's Trail - Chukar Butte 


In McCall and Sun Valley, the colors have been peaking as well. Last week when I was in the Sun Valley area, the cottonwoods around Adams Gulch were brilliant! Farther up the valley toward Galena, the leaves had already fallen and the color show was over. 

Taken today, 10-21-21 in downtown McCall

The tammies are the main feature in Long Valley right now ...
Looking across at the Needles peaks and Lake Cascade

For those of you who like to play in the snow, the beginning of the winter season is coming with a series of snow storms forecast in the mountains. Looking at, I'm seeing the brunt of the storm coming to the Big Wood Basin and Sun Valley, where 8" of new snow is possible through next Wednesday, Tamarack Resort, 9-12", Brundage, 18-26" through next Wednesday, and Bogus Basin, 4" through Wednesday. 

The main event appears to be Monday and Tuesday. But at least in the McCall area, the snow storms start on Friday in the mountains and continue through next Wednesday. We'll see how it plays out. 


So if the winter storms might get you thinking about the upcoming ski season, if you're in need of more ski gear, ski swaps are a great way to save money and get the kids and family geared up. 

There's a new Boise Community Ski Swap going on this weekend, Friday-Sunday, at the old Shopko location on Broadway near I-84 in Boise. 

The BBSRA Ski Swap is scheduled for Nov. 5-7 at Expo Idaho. So that one is still a couple of weeks away. 

I'm stoked to see some wet weather coming in! Let's hope we get nailed and the snow sticks to start the accumulation of mountain snow for the winter of 2021-22!
- SS

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Two must-do hiking trips in the Owyhee Canyonlands, plus Black Magic Canyon near Shoshone

Leslie Gulch - an otherworldly place! (photo by SS)

Hi all, 

It's been cold this week and snowy in the mountains, but it's warming up this weekend with high temperatures forecast in the high 60s in the valleys, maybe low 70s in the middle of the afternoon. 

For my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommend three must-do desert hiking trips destinations in SW Idaho - Leslie Gulch and Mary's Creek/Sheep Creek in the Owyhee Canyonlands, and Black Magic Canyon near Shoshone. 

All three of these destinations should be perfect this weekend. 

1. Black Magic Canyon is a totally unique experience in a incised basalt canyon formed by the Big Wood River below Magic Reservoir. The jumble of black rocks inside the canyon have formed interesting shapes from wind, water and time. 

The Twin Falls Times-News provides an excellent write-up about visiting the canyon along with some great scenic pics by photographer Drew Nash and video. 

Fall and winter are the best times to visit this gem when it's dry. In the spring and summer months, it fills with water runoff and the unique rock formations are not visible.  

Photo by Drew Nash, Fly Photography

Please see the Times-News article for directions to Black Magic Canyon. Coming from the Treasure Valley, you'll want to take I-84 to the Gooding exit and take US 26 to Shoshone. Then, head north on US 93 and following the directions from there.

Southern Idaho Tourism also has a write up on the canyon as does Trip Advisor

We did a hike after a recent small burn ... interesting contrast! (photo by SS)

2. Leslie Gulch is a popular destination on the Oregon side of the Owyhee Canyonlands because it's one of the most scenic areas in the whole canyonlands complex. There are camping areas and rest rooms in Leslie Gulch, several different hiking opportunities and a hot springs near the boat ramp on Owyhee Reservoir. I detailed one hike in my Owyhee Canyonlands book that goes up Juniper Gulch to great overview on Yellowjacket mountain. It's 5.5 miles out and back. 

The area features a lot of rock formations that might remind you of Southern Utah -- redrock spires, hoodoos, honeycombs and more. It's just a cool place to see and explore. If you want to see less people, go during the work week. 

Here's a previous post on Leslie Gulch with details on how to get there and more. 

3. Another worthy destination this weekend would be to visit Mary's Creek and Sheep Creek Canyon, south of Bruneau. Sheep Creek canyon would be dry or maybe you'd see a few puddles right now. So that means you can hike down the canyon and explore. Mary's Creek and Sheep Creek are tributaries of the Bruneau River. They also are part of the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness. 

Mary's Creek in the springtime. See my truck by the trailhead?

Sheep Creek canyon in the springtime.

Here's a previous post that I did about this hike with driving directions to the trailhead. Enjoy! 

Map of Mary's Creek hike to trail dropping into Sheep Creek canyon. It's possible to drive that two-track jeep trail to the canyon rim if you've got a good 4WD high-clearance vehicle.

- SS

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ever tried a Rim-to-Rim hike in the Bruneau Canyon? Four ways to experience the Bruneau River Canyon in SW Idaho

Bruneau River Canyon at low water (courtesy Joanie Fauci)

Hi all, 

A cooler weekend is coming our way here in October, following a bit of rain on Friday. High temperatures near 60 degrees are forecast in Boise, and it'll be much cooler in the mountains. I'm seeing highs in the low 50s in Stanley and lows in the teens! 

Cooler temperatures in the fall always make me think about heading out into the Owyhee Canyonlands for a nice hike, bike ride or scenic drive.  

For my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommending three hikes and a scenic drive in the Bruneau River country. 

The Rim2Rim hike is only doable in the fall, when the water is low.

A friend, Joanie Faucie, recently posted some pics of her Rim2Rim Bruneau Canyon hike going from the west rim to the east rim on the Roberson Trail, and I thought that was worth sharing for sure! The road to the east rim of the Roberson Trail is quite rough, so if there's a smoother alternative, it's worth checking out! Plus, we've all heard of people doing the more epic Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon. 24 miles one-way, 6,000 feet of descent and 4,500 feet of climbing, and then retrace your tracks back to the start. 

I haven't heard often of people doing the Bruneau Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike! Joanie said it took her only two hours total round-trip! The hike features more than 600 vertical feet of drop into the river canyon, and almost 700 feet on the way up to the east rim. Actual hiking distance is a short. little over 2 miles to descend and ascend the canyon, from rim to rim, and 2 miles back, or 4 miles total. 

Courtesy Summit Post

Joanie is in good shape and an experienced hiker. If you don't mind braving the primitive roads out in the Bruneau desert with a solid 4WD, you could give this one a try. 

To reach the west rim, go south from the town of Bruneau on Idaho Highway 51 and then turn left on Broken Wagon Flat Road. Follow that road across the desert about 10 miles to the edge of the rim and trailhead. Ignore minor ranch roads along the way. Two wooden posts mark the trailhead by the rim. 

Joanie said the river was really shallow at the trail-crossing. About ankle-deep or so. 

Courtesy BLM

Bruneau Overlook 

To reach the Bruneau Overlook, follow the Hot Springs Road south of town to the Hot Springs junction. Bear left on the Cover-Three Creek Road and climb up onto a sagebrush plateau. The signed turnoff to the Bruneau Overlook is about 15 miles from the town of Bruneau. You'll go another three miles over to the viewpoint at the rim, where you can park, have a picnic and enjoy the spectacular views!  

Best time to visit is in the spring when everything is green and blooming. But it's totally spectacular year-round, quite honestly.

Rim to Rim option 2, East Rim to West Rim

From the Bruneau Overlook, go back toward the main road and then go right on a rough secondary 4WD road for several miles to the Roberson East Trailhead. Some people have hiked 4 miles from the overlook to the Roberson Trail or rode mountain bikes. Here's a description in All Trails. They rate the out-and-back as being "moderate" and note the trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Map to Roberson Trail East

Summit Post
describes the option of hiking cross-country from the Overlook along the rim over to Roberson Trail East.

I also describe the Roberson Trail East hike in my Owyhee Canyonlands guide. 

There you have it! 

Remember that general deer season will be opening on Oct. 10 statewide. Be sure to put bright colors on you and your dog when head outdoors!

Have fun!
- SS