Beat the heat: Bogus Basin is a cool breeze for summer

It's a quick, convenient getaway from the Valley heat.

rphillips@idahostatesman.comJuly 4, 2013 

There's no getting around it, summer in the Valley can be brutally hot, which is why there's a parade of vehicles heading to mountain destinations like McCall, Stanley and Ketchum every weekend.

Bogus Basin and the surrounding area is often overlooked, and it doesn't take a weekend trip to go there. It's literally a cool destination because its higher elevation means it's typically 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the Valley.

If you're wondering what to do when you're there, keep reading.

PICNIC

If you're heading to Bogus on a weekend, don't bother packing a picnic.

The resort has turned the upper patio at J.R. Simplot Lodge into a summerlong barbecue that's open every weekend through Labor Day. It's open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A large awning keeps the deck in the shade. The menu includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, snacks and beverages, including beer and other alcoholic drinks.

Kick back, soak in the views, eat a burger and have a cold one. The Valley will seem like it's a hundred miles away.

HIKING

Trails at Bogus are good and getting better. The entire Shafer Butte trail system is about 40 miles long and growing.

Kiosks with trail maps are located near the parking area in front Bogus' base area and also at the Frontier Lodge.

The trails crisscross the open slopes and head into the cool, shady forests.

Don't be discouraged because the trails are at a ski area and located in fairly steep terrain, there are easy options for hikers.

Craig Brewer, director of slopes at Bogus, recommends "Brewer's Byway," which starts near the top of the Morningstar lift, and yes, it's named after him.

The trail is a good starter hike because it's pretty flat. Drive up to the Pioneer Lodge, then cross the tennis courts to the top of the chairlift and the trailhead is on the right.

It goes about a mile to an access road on a ridge, and the trail has great views of the mountain and surrounding areas. You can turn around there and head back, or go farther on to Elk Meadows, which also is fairly flat and provides a longer loop hike that returns to the Pioneer Lodge via an access road at the end of the trail.

Brewer's Byway is 1.1 miles, Elk Meadows is 1.5 miles, and the access road that returns to Pioneer Lodge is about another mile.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Bogus doesn't run its lifts for bikers like other ski areas, but the trails are still rider friendly.

For a good beginner trip, head to the Frontier Lodge, aka the Nordic Center, which is past the ski area's main parking lot.

Brewer recommends the Redtail/Sappers Loop, which is about 2 miles on mild terrain on the Nordic trails. It's not too steep or narrow for beginning mountain bikers. The trail is a Nordic ski trail and is about the width of a single-lane road.

For intermediate or advanced riders, a good introductory route is a 5-mile, single-track loop starting and ending at the Simplot Lodge.

The loop starts on the Deer Point Trail near the base of the beginner slope. It goes 2.2 miles and crisscrosses the open slopes and passes through sections of shady forest. The trail is a steady climb most of the way, but when you make it to the end, it's mostly downhill for the rest of the loop.

Deer Point Trail ends at an intersection with an access road and other trails. From the intersection, go left on Shindig Trail a short ways to Brewer's Byway, which will take you to the top of the Morningstar lift. From there, follow the access road that goes just below Pioneer Lodge and look for the Morningstar Trail sign on the left before you reach the paved road heading back up to Pioneer Lodge.

Morningstar Trail is 1.7 miles and the tightest and trickiest part of this loop. It has tight switchbacks, some rocky sections, and several ramps, which don't have to be ridden (the trail parallels them).

Morningstar ends at an access road that returns to Simplot Lodge.

New trail update: Riders and hikers are looking forward to the new "Around the Mountain Trail" at Bogus.

It's currently being constructed, and is scheduled to be completed by fall.

The new 7-mile trail will link with existing trails to create a 10-mile loop around Shafer Butte. It's being designed for mountain bikers, but will be open for hikers and equestrians.

About 3 miles of the trail has been completed. If people want to check it out now as an out-and-back trail they can. The trail starts about a mile up Deer Point Trail.

The recently completed section of Around the Mountain Trail also ties into the Boise Ridge Road, which links to other trails in the upper Foothills.

OVERNIGHTERS

There are three options for spending the night at or near Bogus.

One is camping at the Forest Service's Shafer Butte Campground, which is about 3 miles past Bogus' base area.

There are seven campsites at the campground, which has water and outhouses.

Five campsites are reservable at (877) 444-6777, or at recreation.gov. Camping costs $10 per night - not including reservation fees - and the area usually fills up on weekends so reservations are recommended.

Getting to the campground requires driving on a fairly steep dirt road. It's suitable for passenger cars but RVs are not recommended at the campground.

If you want to stay closer to the ski area, you can rent Bogus' yurt for $125 per night. It sleeps up to 12 people.

The yurt is outfitted with four bunk beds, (two with full-sized bottom mattresses), and a futon that converts to a double bed.

The yurt is like camping with tent, bunks, cookstove and lanterns provided, and you bring the rest.

For details, or to make reservations, go to bogusbasin.org, then go to "Mountain" and click on "Lodging" on the drop-down menu.

If you want all the comforts of home, another option is the Pioneer Condos at Bogus. There are 20 units available for rent, they sleep four to nine people, depending on the unit. Prices start at $99 per night on weekdays and $149 per night on weekends.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 332-5200 or go to pioneercondos.com.

DISC GOLF

Bogus has two disc golf courses at the mountain, one at the base area near Simplot Lodge and the other at the upper Pioneer Lodge.

It's free to play the courses, and you can get course maps at discgolf.vpop.net.

SHAFER BUTTE/MORES MOUNTAIN

This area is operated by the Forest Service and has hiking trails, a campground, picnic and day-use areas, and two reservable day-use group shelters.

The area is about 3 miles past Bogus Basin. Continue on the road and turn right at the signed road junction and proceed to the Shafer Butte Picnic Area and Mores Mountain Trailhead.

There's a $5-per-vehicle day-use fee for the area.

Mores Mountain has a milelong interpretive trail, which also offers a longer hike around the 7,200-foot mountain.

GUIDED WALKS

The Boise National Forest and the Idaho Master Naturalists will host several free nature walks at the Shafer Butte Picnic Area - Mores Mountain Trailhead - in July.

A nature walk will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 13.

There also will be six butterfly interpretive walks: 10 a.m., Saturday, July 6; Thursday, July 11; Thursday, July 18; Saturday, July 20; Thursday, July 25; and Saturday, July 27.

Each outing will be about two hours on moderately steep terrain at approximately 6,800-feet elevation.

The walks are open to the public and registration is required by calling the Mountain Home Ranger District at 587-7961.

Wear sturdy hiking shoes. Bring sunscreen, water, snacks and a light jacket. Binoculars are optional, but helpful.

The walks are free, but there is a $5 day-use fee per vehicle at Shafer Butte.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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