Getting out on the trails is tough this time of year. The ones that aren't snowed in are muddy messes. Even portions of the Greenbelt were flooding this week. That really limits our options, or forces us to use a little creativity. Sometimes we feature a scenic drive in the desert in the spring, but we don't like the idea of sending someone down a dirt road and having them get stuck in the infamous Owyhee gumbo.
So we decided that a good alternative is the Owyhee Lake Road. You get 15 miles of gorgeous red rock canyon and never have to leave pavement. You also can see the Owyhee River flowing the highest it has been in about 20 years.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take I-84 and U.S. 20 to Parma. Go south on Hamstad Road and then west on Idaho 18 to Oregon 201. Go north on Oregon 201 to Lake Owyhee Road near the town of Owyhee.
Open to: Cars, trucks, motorhomes, any vehicles.
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Ideal for: A scenic drive
Trailhead elevation: 2,199 feet
Destination elevation: 2,650 feet
Length: About 15 miles in the canyon. Add a few more miles if you go to Lake Owyhee State Park for a picnic.
Difficulty: Easy drive. It's about two hours from Boise.
Out and back or loop: Out and back.
Wildlife you might see: Chukars, cottontail rabbits, deer, ducks.
Notes: There are picnic tables and bathrooms at Snively Hotsprings on the Owyhee River and at Lake Owyhee State Park on the reservoir.
Information: Take a map along. The best one to use is the Benchmark Maps Idaho Road and Recreation Atlas. It has both Idaho and Oregon and will help you navigate the backroads.
If you've hiked or biked a trail you'd like to see featured, call Niki Forbing-Orr at (208) 377-6446, or e-mail outdoors@ idahostatesman.com. Articles and photos submitted to The Idaho Statesman may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.