Thursday, December 2, 2021

With sunny afternoons through Sunday, enjoy low-elevation trails like the Wilson-Reynolds Loop in the Owyhees

Entrance to Reynolds Creek canyon from the north. Took this pic in the spring.

Hi all, 

One more week of this unseasonably warm weather in December before winter weather is forecast to descend on Idaho next week.

So you might as well continue to enjoy low-elevation trails in the Boise Foothills or the Owyhee Front.  Please keep tabs on the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for the latest trail conditions ... trails that are on north slopes or in permanent shade are going to be muddy and should be avoided. 

Trails in the Snake River canyon, such as this recent post detailing trips to an old homestead or Celebration Park to Halverson Lake would work well as would these must-do hikes in the Owyhees - Leslie Gulch and Mary's Creek/Sheep Creek.   

The China Ditch Trail ... Courtesy Idaho Hiking Club

Another sweet hiking loop is the Wilson Creek-Reynolds Creek Loop, which is featured in both my Boise Trail Guide and Owyhee Canyonlands guidebooks. It's 7.5 miles round-trip, travel time about 3.5 hours, vertical gain 750 feet, and it's super scenic. I saw that the Idaho Hike Club hiked it earlier this week. 

Here's a description in All Trails as well. 

My writeup on the hike:  

General remarks: This is a great hike/trail run in the foothills of the Owyhee Mountains, about 45 minutes from Boise. The trail weaves through rock formations on the way over to Reynolds Creek, and then you'll hike along on top of the China Ditch Trail - an old Chinese-built irrigation ditch high above the creek. The red rock canyon is spectacular. Bring your camera, plenty of water and a lunch.

Example of the cool rock formations you'll see going over to Reynolds Creek canyon.

Getting there
: From downtown Boise, hook up with I-184 west and head for Nampa. Take the Franklin Road exit (City Center) in Nampa, and turn left. Follow Franklin to the intersection with 11th Street. Turn right and take 11th into downtown Nampa. Follow signs for Idaho 45 south. Take ID 45 to Walters Ferry at the Snake River and turn right on ID 78, heading for Marsing. In a couple miles, turn left on Wilson Creek Road. Proceed up the paved road until it turns to dirt and pull into a dirt parking area on the left for BLM Trails #300 and #400. The hike/run starts here.

Directions: To begin, pick up Trail #300 out of the parking lot. Ignore trails branching off to the left in the first mile. At mile .9, you’ll cross a road and continue on the singletrack trail. The trail climbs one last hill and then widens into a two-track and descends to a T-junction at a dirt road (mile 1.8). Go right for a short bit, and turn left on Trail #410, a sandy wash going downhill towards Reynolds Creek. At mile 2.3, go right on Trail #310 and proceed for a half mile to a junction with Trail #600, the "China Ditch” trail. Go right and walk upstream along Reynolds Creek canyon for about a long mile. After walking next to vertical rock walls, the trail opens up on the right at the junction with Trail #510, #601 and #610. Go right on #510 and climb out of the canyon. At mile 4, bear right at a Y junction on #510 and stay on #510 to BLM dirt road #37154. Go right and follow the road to the junction with Trail #400. Go left on #400 at mile 5.28 and head back to the trailhead. At the top of the first hill, you can either stay on Trail #400 or branch off on #300. Both ways head over to the Wilson Creek Road and the trailhead.

Hiking notes: Even though the route is 7+ miles, the elevation gain is pretty minimal, so the hike may be suitable for kids 8 and over. My kids enjoyed the hike, especially throwing rocks into the creek on the China Ditch trail.

Wondering what's going on with the winter storms predicted next week? See my post in for the Idaho Daily Snow for details. 

- SS  

Make sure you bring the kids! This was Quinn and Drew a few years ago!


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