When I saw the trailhead to Taylor Canyon Loop was located of Lake Creek Road, I was immediately disappointed. This was the first road on which I scouted for campsites when I arrived in Ketchum. I found the sites, simply cut into the sagebrush valley without a tree, quite unappealing.
Taylor Canyon Loop
- Distance: 4.2 miles
- Type: Moderate, loop
- Elevation Gain: 1,263 ft
- Other: Dogs Allowed
- All Trails Link
Fortunately, the 4.4 mile Taylor Canyon Loop Trail, located in the Sawtooth National Forest, does not meander through the sun soaked valley. Instead, it climbs up the canyon through a forested area. In the morning, the contrasting shadows on the hillside and sunlight beaming through the shimmering aspen is beautiful sight.
And the hike only improves with the altitude. It is a steady climb up, going in the counter-clockwise direction. Annie patiently waited for me as I took a few breathers. To get to the first lookout, there is a hairpin turn. It is easy to miss as there is another less trodden trail that goes straight.
I mistakenly took it for a brief stint. I thought to myself, this trail sure changed. It went from smooth to rocky, and the once well-defined path slowly deteriorated on the side of the mountain. I promptly checked my AllTrails map to see that I was off course.
After a quick correction, I continued up the mountain to the first viewpoint. I thought it was wonderful, but come to find out, the better views were coming. Annie and I continued through more forest when finally, we exited upon panoramic views of a valley encompassed by snow-capped mountains. It was just remarkable.
As we walked across the ridge, I heard some girls coming from the opposite direction, so I called Annie back and put her on her leash. They had a lab puppy with them that promptly came bounding toward Annie. Annie gets afraid when dog run at her and reacts. I could see where this was headed.
I stuck out my hiking pole, and shouted, “Not good,” but the girls expressed no sense of urgency to call their dog back. Normally dogs stop at the sight of the pole. This puppy surprised me, however, when it ducked underneath it. and came at Annie who was behind me. In seconds, I was in the middle of a dog fight, got knocked off my feet, and tumbled six feet down the mountainside.
I’ll start by saying I wasn’t hurt, and the puppy probably wanted to play. That said, if you can’t call your dog back, don’t let it off the leash. I wanted to say that to the owner, but she was wide-eyed like she had seen a ghost and apologized frantically!
“Are you OK? Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Did you hit your head? Let me help you up. Can I touch you? I have all my vaccines. I’m so sorry. He’s such a sweet puppy. What’s your name? My name is (I don’t remember). I’m so sorry. Do you want my phone number? Here’s your phone. That happened so fast…”
Her friend asked if I was camping and if I needed food. Those questions seemed sort of odd to me?!? Then she asked if I got my fall on camera, because today I was testing out my Asako camera (a cheap version of GoPro). I did have to laugh at that. My memory card is not nearly big enough for hours of hiking, so I was just taking short clips.
I mostly answered in single words as I wiped all the pine needles and dirt off me. I was trying not to say, “that’s OK”, because it wasn’t. But she was so genuine and distraught, I finally did and said, “Just enjoy your run.” Her wide eyes finally showed a little relief.
Amazing Views and Wildflowers
I figured, she’ll feel bad for the rest of the day, and I’ll take a few Advil when I get back to VANgo and be fine. Though the fall was no fun, it didn’t interfere too much with the rest of my hike. In fact, after the next patch of forest, we entered into another amazing view, this time as we stood in a hillside of balsamroot wildflowers. I couldn’t believe the hike could get better, but it did!
Shortly after this section, the Taylor Canyon Loop Trail descends steeply. I was thankful to have my pole for the slick switchbacks. Because this portion is so steep, some hikers might prefer the clockwise loop instead, but I think the views and lack of wildflowers at the end would be anti-climactic.
While the Taylor Canyon Loop Trail gets the heart rate up and the legs burning, the views are worth the effort. I highly recommend this early season 4.4 mile hike in May. ETB