Twice a month, we’ll spotlight a trail. Suggestions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
I asked Leo Hennessy, the non-motorized trail coordinator for Idaho State Parks and Recreation, for a spring hiking suggestion. He directed me to Station Creek near Garden Valley — a hike that provided the right amount of challenge for a family excursion (our 7-year-old son and dog were able to handle it). The trail also offered beautiful views of snow-capped mountains and the green valley below and a few wildlife encounters that confirmed spring was on the way.
“It’s all single track and beautiful forest,” Hennessy said.
The trail begins alongside its namesake, a tiny creek that you hear more often than you see. It winds up into the hills, crosses the creek (you might have to step in the water) and puts you on a ridge overlooking the Garden Valley area. We saw two elk, including a calf; a couple of butterflies and a woodpecker.
The official trail is 2.1 miles but it doesn’t stop at that point. You can continue up the trail another 2 miles to the top of Bald Mountain, which adds another 1,500 feet of climbing and could lead to some snow. Be aware that there is a fork in the Station Creek trail. If you make a wrong turn at the sign, you end up on a steeper descent back to the trailhead.
If you have time, try driving home through Lowman and Idaho City. The Payette River canyon and wildlife viewing make the extra driving time worthwhile.
▪ Stats: The Station Creek portion of the trail is 2.1 miles one way with a climb of 1,249 feet. Our round trip took about 3 hours.
▪ Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north from Boise to Banks, then turn right on Banks Lowman Road (Highway 17). The trailhead is on the left, across the highway from the Forest Service ranger station. A dirt parking lot is accessible via a dirt road just before the Boise National Forest sign. The Forest Service provides a printer-friendly info sheet and map for the trail. Link to it from this story at IdahoStatesman.com.