Happy Hiking: Oregon Gulch Trail

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A Day in Boise

After spending Saturday morning in Boise riding my ebike on the Boise River greenbelt through the parks, strolling around the capitol, browsing the Freak Alley Gallery and visiting the Anne Frank memorial, I attended to some chores, including washing my clothes as well as VANgo. Thereafter, I slowly made my way to Mountain Home. 

An Evening in Mountain Home

Mountain Home is southeast of Boise and on the way to Hailey, where my relative Stephanie lives.  I spent the night at another Harvest Hosts location, this time a golf course, Desert Canyon.  TJ warned me that there would be a kids tournament and to delay my arrival until after 6:30. While killing time, I picked up some groceries and went in search of a water tank and propane fill.

I never expected finding a propane fill would be so hard!  I finally got some at Mountain Home RV Park.  I’m documenting that, so when I come back, I know where to go if necessary.

Anyway, I checked in at the golf course and grabbed a beer among many patrons as the kids awaited their awards.  It was probably close to 8pm before most cleared the parking lot, and I resituated VANgo for a nice view.  Annie and I enjoyed a sunset walk on the front nine before calling it an evening.

The following morning, I planned on a short run around the back nine before golf started at nine, but the course superintendent nicely told me dogs weren’t allowed on the course.  Based on yesterday and the fact the Harvest Host post says “pets allowed”, I was miffed.  This almost derailed my plans for the day, as Annie is the Tasmanian Devil when she doesn’t get a morning run, walk or hike.

Fortunately, the gentleman pointed out a walking path that skirts the edge of the course for a mile or so and then connects to the street to make a 2.2 mile loop.  At least we got some early exercise in before I took a real shower at Pilot, blogged at the library because my MoFi Router broke, and then made my way toward Hailey to say hi to Steph.

A Drive to Sun Valley

She nicely lent me some hiking books for the Sun Valley area, my stop for the next five days. I’ll see her the next weekend at her house in Stanley.  So, I will be able to return the books, pick up my new router as I had it and a few other things shipped to her house, and hopefully survive the forecasted snowstorm! I thought I was done with that!

Camping on Corral Creek Road

Anyway, after a brief visit, I popped up to Sun Valley, scouted some areas, and found a great campsite on Corral Creek Road.  While most sites are in the open valley of sagebrush, site 4 is tucked in a grove of aspen!  I did give up cell service to snag it, but it is worth It.  Really only the first site has decent service, and I have to go to the library for internet anyway without my router.  So, I will enjoy the solitude for a few days, especially after being in a campground last week in Idaho City.

Hiking Oregon Gulch Trail

With the last two days summarized, I guess I will get to the title of this post, hiking Oregon Gulch Trail. While I had saved some trails on my AllTrails app that I could review without cell service, Steph’s Day Hiker’s Guide to Sun Valley and Ketchum was a savior.  The author, a friend of hers, includes a list of early season hikes.

I focused on this list to ensure I’d avoid snow and enjoy some wildflowers.  Oregon Gulch trail provided such experience as well as some spectacular views.

Getting to Oregon Gulch Trail

The trailhead is located right off Highway 75.  There is no sign because reaching the small dirt parking area with a pit toilet and hitching post, requires access through private property.  It is so non-descript that people must completely miss it.  I arrived at 8:30am on a Monday, and Annie and I had the Oregon Gulch Trail to ourselves.

The Ascent

The 6.8 mile Oregon Gulch Trail can be found to the right of the parking area.  The path travels along the willow encroached creek past the sagebrush hills dotted with a variety of wildflowers; larkspur, balsamroot, baby bells, forget-me-nots, and more.

After about two miles, the trail enters the evergreen forest.  I was thankful to join the shade of the pines despite having to give up the early season wildflowers. 

We continued along the creek, which is hardly visible between the willows for another mile until we reached a trail junction to Fox Creek. So far, the Oregon Gulch Trail was relatively flat.  At the junction, however, the path veers to the right and ascends moderately and occasionally steeply through the forest.

I slowly followed the elk tracks up the path while Annie, who picked up the scent, began sprinting circles through the trees.  She had been relatively calm until then because I made her pack her own water and food on the longer 8-mile hike.

Suddenly, I heard a loud screech!  It sounded like a catcall, but in looking up toward the ridge to the right, I did not spot an elusive mountain lion.  That said, about half a mile later I did find a fresh portion of a bunny leg. 

The View

After a steady climb for ¾ of a mile, we reached a ridge.  The trail continues to the left, but instead of following the path into the trees, I veered to the right up the ridge to a grassy knoll.  This quarter mile was my best decision of the entire hike.

In fact, despite the smattering of flowers, I felt the Oregon Gulch Trail was somewhat dull until I reached this 360-degree viewpoint.  Snow-capped mountains encompassed the below valley.  It was so great!

I sat down on the only log to enjoy a snack and the view when I looked down to find a tick crawling across my pants.  ICK!  In a knee jerk reaction, I flicked it so fast that I don’t know where it landed.  That was the end of my relaxing time at the summit. 

I felt like I had creepy crawlies all over me, so I stood up, shook off, and sat on the uncomfortable crushed granite surface while I made Annie pose for a few pics with me.  Then I was off!  Back down the ridge to Oregon Gulch Trail we went.

The Descent

The descent was pretty quick, fortunately.  Soon after I reached VANgo and checked Annie for ticks and then myself, I heard crashes of thunder.   So much for the sunny sky forecast.  I had seen some clouds forming, but they were white and off in the distance. 

These came in fast and within 30 minutes, the rain fell.  I’m glad we finished when we did!  And I’m glad I have a very sleepy dog on my hands tonight.  That is, after she hid her bone three times at the campground, and settled on eating a stick instead.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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