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

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