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We use several criteria in our trip descriptions to classify our snowshoe trips, focusing on round-trip mileage and total elevation gain. No classification system is perfect, and trip difficulties can vary greatly depending on the season and other factors. If after reading the trip description you have any questions about a trip's difficulty, contact the trip leader.

Snowshoe Trip Classifications

  • Easy: Up to 5 miles round trip and 600 ft. elevation gain.
  • Moderate: Up to 8 miles round trip and 1200 ft. elevation gain.
  • Difficult: Over 8 miles round trip or 1200 ft. elevation gain.

Bear Basin Snowshoeing

Come join me on the beautiful trails at Bear Basin near McCall. Those that wish can participate in the City of Trees Orienteering meet. I would like to participate as a group (groups of three or four work well), so we can make groups according to who wants to participate or you can participate on your own. I do not plan to be competitive, I enjoy orienteering as a way to brush up on map and compass skills, as well as thinking through the possible scenarios to accomplish your goal of finding all of the controls. Orienteering is really fun as a team endeavor. You are also welcome to come along and skate ski, snowshoe and/or nordic ski even if you don’t want to participate in the meet. Trail fees are $10 for Bear Basin and a map for the meet is $5 for an individual or $7 for a group. There is a warming yurt and rest room at the Bear Basin trail head. We will carpool, leaving Boise at 8 AM. Please arrive at 7:45 am to organize carpools. Bring a COMPASS (for orienteering or we can share), lunch, snacks, water, layered clothing and cash for drivers and the meet if you wish to participate. I anticipate being back in Boise around 6:30.

Difficulty: Bear Basin has trails for skills from beginner to advanced. I don’t know what terrain the meet will cover as the meet map isn’t published in advance (please correct me if I am wrong). Meet classifications are from novice to advanced, however, that can mean the level of difficulty in finding the controls moreover the difficulty of the terrain. It is up to you to decide which course you want to attempt or if you just want to enjoy the area without participating in the meet. Please call me if you would like to discuss the difficulty level of this trip, as I think we will be able to accommodate many levels of skill. We will have a better idea of the skill level when we know who is going!

Dogs: Dogs are allowed on some trails for an additional $2.00 fee. Please let me know if you are planning on bringing a dog so we can coordinate driving.

For more information about the meet see

For more information about Bear Basin see (scroll down past the really nice article on Ponderosa).

Event Date: 
Sun, 02/22/2009 (All day)
Event Contact: 

For more information or to sign up call my cell at 850-3620 or e-mail

Whoop-Um-Up Snowshoe Trip

This will be a class A snowshoe trip (assuming we are not breaking trail). This will be divided into two loops. The first loop will start across Hwy. 21 from the parking lot and take us on the Whoop-um-up and Upper Lamar trails (3.1 miles and 840 ft. of elevation gain). We then plan to stop back at our vehicles for food and hot beverages . For those who want more we plan to also shoe the Lower Lamar and Valley trails for an additional 3.1 miles and another 520 ft. of elevation gain. This would give us a total of 6.2 miles and 1360 ft. of climbing. Sound like fun? Call or email us for more info. We are going to limit the trip to a maximum of 10 people. Dogs are OK. Remember that those who drive will need a Park N’ Ski pass ($25 annual or $7.50 for the weekend). Trip may be cancelled if little snow or if severe weather conditions exist. The Whoop-Um-Up trailhead is 18 miles NE of Idaho City (approx 56 miles from Boise).

Event Date: 
Sat, 12/27/2008 (All day)
Event Contact: 

Contact:  Julie and Michael Ford

602-3999 or 724-4270 please call after 5:00

Snowshoe?!?! (Or hike if no snow nearby)

Can’t say right now where. If no snow nearby, a hike to Birds of Prey hike area should be in order. Maybe 15 miles round trip. 1000 ft elevation gain. has the below info:


Birds of Prey Area Hikes 

Hikes: D.
Total Distance, D: 3-11 miles.
Difficulty: Level I.
Season: October 15-May 1.
USGS Maps: Initial Point, Sinker Butte.
BLM 100K Map: Murphy.
Dirt Road Miles: 4 gravel, 1 1/2 good dirt.
PLSS Location: Section 35, T1S R1W (Wees Bar).
Other Sources: Various BLM Birds of Prey Area pamphlets, maps, etc.

Introduction: These hikes are in the Birds of Prey Natural Area. One follows the Snake River to Wees Bar, an outstanding petroglyph site. Another climbs to one of southern Idaho’s outstanding viewpoints, the summit of Sinker Butte.

In some respects, good management in the Birds of Prey Area is beginning to be felt. The Wees Bar hike is through an area closed to motor vehicles, along a road that provides good family hiking (and which is also used by mountain bikes). The route to the petroglyphs is on once-private land recently acquired by the BLM. A century of overgrazing at such low elevations cannot be undone in a few decades. Although grazing continues, there is now hope for this stretch of low desert.

On the other hand, management on the plateaus above the canyon is abysmal. National Guard tank training continues to expand, churning up the landscape. Cattle grazing should have been ended long ago, but it continues at too-high levels. Wildfires race across the area with ever-increasing frequency as cheatgrass replaces shrubs and native grasses. One wonders how long the desert rodents which feed the birds of prey will remain.

The Wees Bar Hike: The Wees Bar hike follows the Snake River for 3 1/2 miles. Cross the recreational walkway across Swan Falls Dam by walking through a gate and across the spillway to the main dam entrance; and then through a gate on the left that leads to a catwalk on the upstream (reservoir) side of the dam. Once on the other side turn left, walk upstream along the river for while, and then cut right and climb a very poor road (used to build the dam) to a Melon Gravel bar and a main junction (W1). Turn right and then left, and follow this ancient road down a steep hill to the river. The stretch of river you follow trends northwest for two miles.

At the end of that two miles, beyond the disturbed lands around Priest Ranch, the river bends to a more westerly course. Take time to observe the rocks here. Boulders with jagged edges have fallen from the canyon walls since the Bonneville Flood. Boulders with rounded edges were plucked from the narrow canyon walls or floor by the flood, and were rounded off by the swirling waters.

Wees Bar is just around the corner to the left. Some of the biggest examples of Melon Gravel were deposited in that relatively quiet backeddy of the flood. The Indians of southern Idaho put those rounded boulders to good use, creating the largest petroglyph field in the state. The author presumes this was a major winter camp area, and his guess that this area was especially important to the Indians seems borne out by the nearby Otter Massacre site. (That massacre has apparently been mislocated on USGS maps for many years. Newer research indicates that the massacre took place near Henderson Flats, about 1 mile downstream from Castle Creek.)

The Sinker Butte Hike: The view from Sinker Butte (3421 feet) takes in a lot of territory. It’s the highest point along the river in the Birds of Prey area, with the Boise Front, the Owyhee Range, and a long stretch of Bonneville Flood-impacted canyon in sight.

You have two ways to hike the Butte. One is from Swan Falls Dam. Cross the dam and climb to the main junction on the Melon Gravel bar (W1), turn left, and climb up the old road to the trailhead on the south side rim (T2).

The other way is to start at that trailhead, reached by poorer roads from the south. Just aim for the Butte, follow ways that lead toward it, climb its side, and you’re on top.

Narrow benches below the butte’s southeast rim give the best views of the Snake, in its narrowest stretch between Pocatello and Hells Canyon. Here the force of the Bonneville Flood was constricted, damming up the waters until they deposited gravel 435 feet above the river. Sinker Butte stood squarely in the water’s path, and the raging waters gouged out the alcove below you.

The author would like to camp in this area during the winter. There are many suitable campsites on Sinker Butte and on the bench to the east.

Event Date: 
Sat, 11/29/2008 (All day)
Event Contact: 


Yurt Reconnaisance Trip!

The holidays have arrived, the snow is falling (someplace), and friends and family are coming to visit. Ready to take them to our mountains? How about putting some snowshoes on them and taking them on a tour of a couple of Idaho City’s yurts? What?? Nobody’s coming and you’ve got work to do so you can’t leave town? Well, you can at least get off Saturday, December 22nd, right? Good. Because we have the showshoe trip for everyone. We’ll circle the wagons at Whoop ’Em Up parking lot, just 18 miles north of Idaho City and put in an easy hike (maybe 3 hours) to Rocky Ridge Yurt (3.5 mile round trip). For those who got their snow fix with that distance, you’re cleared to go home. The rest will drive 2 miles farther and park at Gold Fork parking lot. The somewhat faster 5.2 mile round trip (maybe 2.5 hours) to Whispering Pines now takes the total degree of difficulty up to moderate. The tired, but happy, will now return home. The remaining (few) olympians will decide to either go to Skyline Yurt (4 miles round trip) OR drive 3 miles up the road, parking at Banner Ridge parking lot, and taking in both Banner Ridge Yurt as well as Elkhorn Yurt (7 miles). Yes, the day now qualifies as difficult. It’s theoretically doable according to In case you’re thinking this is a bit much, please remember that this is JUST an easy 3.5 mile trip. It’s only that some other folks will go a bit

Event Date: 
Sat, 12/22/2007 (All day)

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