Well, I had hoped to write about four early season hikes in Sun Valley, but the East Fork of the North Fork of the Wood River was in such bad condition, that I won’t burden you with scrambling over a forest of fallen trees.
That said, I did find three early season hikes in Sun Valley that are worth taking. All have a moderate difficulty and range from four to six miles, give or take.
Taylor Canyon Loop
Starting with the shortest, 4.4 miles, the Taylor Canyon Loop Trail is located in the Sawtooth National Forest. It is located five miles north of Ketchum of Lake Creek Road. The sagebrush valley encompassing the road made me think the hike wouldn’t be that interesting.
I was sorely mistaken. The loop may be taken in either direction. Most people start at the sign and hike in the counter-clockwise direction. I liked hiking this way, as it saves the best for last…magnificent views of snow-capped peaks and wildflowers blanketing the hillside in May.
Others prefer the clockwise direction because the descent is extremely steep. I was very happy to have my poles. While the hike is only 4.4 miles, the steepness makes up for the short distance.
Taylor Canyon Loop is my favorite of the three early season hikes in Sun Valley, though it was also the busiest. For more details and photos, see my post, Happy Hiking: Taylor Canyon Loop.
Oregon Gulch Trail
At 6.8 miles, Oregon Gulch Trail is the longest of the three early season hikes in Sun Valley. This trailhead is located 7.6 miles north of Ketchum right off Highway 75. There is no sign and access is through private property so it is easy to miss.
As a result, it is lightly trafficked. There are pit toilets and a horse hitch in the small dirt parking lot.
Admittedly, I thought the trail was slightly dull in the beginning. The path followed the willow engulfed creek through hillsides with a variety of wildflowers beginning to bloom in the Sawtooth National Forest.
Soon it reached the shade of the forest and ascended steeply at the trail junction. Eventually it reaches a ridge with a grassy knoll to the right. Follow the elk prints and other footsteps up to the top for spectacular views. While slightly off trail, the views are the best part of the whole hike.
Murdock Creek Trail
I almost didn’t hike Murdock Creek Trail as it is in the same general area as the East Fork of the North Fork of the Wood River. It would have been a mistake to skip.
This trailhead is located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area a little over 9 miles north of Ketchum off Forest Rd. 146.
The first 1.5 miles is very easy as the path wends through the moss-covered trees along the creek. Thereafter, short bursts of climbing on shale talus, give the trail the moderate rating.
While the roundtrip hike is 6.3 miles, there isn’t much to miss in the early season after mile two and the cool rock formation, shortening the hike to approximately four miles.
For one additional view, you can cross the creek without a bride, climb the steep hillside, and look back down the valley, but the reward is not worth the effort in my opinion unless the wildflowers are blooming. For this early season hike in Sun Valley, the flowers weren’t blooming in May.
For more details and photos, see my post, Happy Hiking: Murdock Creek Trail.
In summary, these are nice early season hikes in Sun Valley with a chance to see wildflowers and nice views. ETB