Monday, August 10, 2015

Crooked River Trail August 8-9, 2015.

Partners: Deez and Lego Master.

Stats: 4 miles one way, 8 miles and 24 hours round trip. Elevation gain: N/A.

Gear notes: N/A.


Crooked River.

The Crooked River Trail is north of Idaho City. Take ID 21 north of Idaho City for 18 miles, then turn right at Edna Creek Camp Ground on FSR 384. Drive 1 mile to the obvious trail head on the right side of the road. If you go on a weekend like we did, good luck finding a parking spot close to the trailhead.

Pros: Short drive from town. Easy walk, easy overnight trip for new backpackers or people wanting to introduce children or beginners. Plenty of fishing opportunities.

Cons: Heavy use. Lots of people. Camp sites limited and may be taken by day use hikers.

About a year ago, we decided it was time to introduce the boys to backpacking proper. We did an overnight hike of Jennie Lake to implement that. It turned out to be a bit more than we expected but we still enjoyed the different challenge it offered. This year, we wanted to do a trip based on age and ability. Ian got in a good trip this year. Since he is 13 and has friends, he had plans with them this weekend. Since I didn't have friends when I was 13, I gave him a pass to stay in town. The 15 year old female child was also granted a pass. Her time will come to venture beyond the glowing rectangles.

Landen (AKA Lego Master) had not been out for a while. He was more than ready to adventure and designated as the official leader of the trip. Some light research indicated the Crooked River Trail might be just what we needed to make up for last years death march of Jennie Lake. With the team set, we loaded our gear into the Granola Mobile and headed out.

Trailhead Selfie.

We were booted up by 1pm and were amazed by how many people actually use this trail. We had to park about a quarter mile from the trailhead.

After all, it is a Saturday.

Genuine smiles indicate the easy walking.

After some rushed packing we were headed down the the trail with a lot traffic returning to the trailhead. We put the youth up front in the lead, the beauty in the middle to supervise and the corruption was placed in the back.

Overcast skies and cool temps on the hike in.

The trail heads south and at about 2 miles we reached the bridge that crosses to the east side of the Crooked River. Beyond that, the further the one goes, the trail becomes more overgrown but it is easy to follow with only a few obstacles to overcome. The trail is narrow enough to create bottlenecks, but all were easily past. Staying on the west side, there are a few decent camp sites just past the bridge.

Crooked River.

After the bridge,we took some time at a nice riverside break spot. After the bridge the traffic had thinned out, but the heavy use of the area was still obvious. Our initial plan was to hike to the end of the maintained trail and camp. We past a few good camp sites, one in particular at about 3 miles really caught my eye. I had suggested to snag the site, set up camp and hike the rest of the trail, but the leader wanted to continue so we pushed on. When we got to the end we found tents already set up. We would later learn they were Boy Scouts, all 12 of them. We booked it back and stopped at the first camp site we saw. The skies were cloudy, distant thunder was heard and the treat of a shower was imminent.

About the time we had unloaded the contents of our packs and started to set up the tent was about the time the shower hit.

Ah, the joys of backpacking...

Camp along the Crooked River Trail.

It wasn't the best camp site, but at least we had one. With so many people on the trail, we didn't want to push on back to one of the better ones, only to find it occupied.

In camp.

It was't long until the shower stopped and we were able to dry out and get on with our night.

Dinner time.

Time for dinner. Chicken Pesto with Angel hair for the older adventure's. Mac N' Cheese for the youngest.

We have more or less perfected the freezer bag method. All dinner required was boiling water.


This is how we roll. No Mountain House crud for us. Gourmet all the way, complete with good wine.

After dinner and a frisbee session, the sun dipped below the horizon and the stars were now visible in the clearing skies. Deez reminded me that the Perseid meteor shower was beginning. We did see several shooting stars, one of which in particular was very low, fast and bright. I could see a trail of smoke behind it. We made it a point to not take our eyes off of the sky for no longer than it took to refill our wine cups.

Looking south from the bridge.

We managed some good sleep that night. I was the first one up at 9:30 which is a very luxurious wake up time for me. Our camp site had sub-optimal shade and the direct sun was already very warm. With precious little shade to be had, we didn't hang around much longer than it took to have breakfast and break camp.

Half way and still smiling.

The walking was easy and we went at the pace set by the youngster. Back at the bridge, we took a break on the west side, near the camp sites in the shade. We topped off the water bottles for the remaining 2 miles back to the car.

The bridge at approx 2 miles marks the half way point.

We past several people kitted up for an afternoon of fishing. Then more people, and more people after that. The return hike was populated and uneventful.

Granite boulders, likely unclimbed.

We passed a very nice, clean looking granite boulder about 1.5 miles from the trailhead on the west side of the trail. Anyone want to work on a bouldering project?

Strolling along the road.

We had to park a bit past the trailhead because of all the cars when we arrived; it seemed farther without them now, than when we started.

In summary, if you are short on time or just looking to try out backpacking, this trail may be for you. If you are wanting to introduce children to life beyond glowing rectangles, or take spouses or first timers for an easy first time overnight hike, give the Crooked River Trail a go, but don't waste your vacation time. If you seek solitude, go somewhere else. I'm all for going off the grid, but the Crooked River Trail is not the best option. In my humble opinion, this would be best done as a day hike. My standard formula is hike to a lake, camp, climb peaks, rinse and repeat. My trips are usually strenuous and to say the least, not kid friendly. This was by far the easiest overnight trip I've ever done. This was all about the youngster, he was calling the plays. Overall, I think I made up for last years death march to Jennie Lake.

Youth and beauty are still no match for old age and corruption.

Happy Trails!

- Granola, out.

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