A crazy splash of wildflowers erupts for a few weeks in early summer every year on the south side of Mores Mountain, about 90 minutes from Boise.
The field is along the Mores Mountain trail, a 2-mile-long circumnavigation of the peak of the same name, just north of the Bogus Basin ski area. You’ll see Bogus’ backside runs from parts of the trail. The flowers grow elsewhere along the trail, but not in the concentration found in this particular spot. Some of flowers you’ll see: Coville’s Indian paintbrush, Oregon sunshine (also known as wooly sunflower) taper-leaved penstemon (1 of 6 species growing up there, says Idaho Botanical Garden botanist Ann DeBolt) and arrowleaf balsamroot.
From the trailhead, the hike is uphill most of the way, but not too steep. It should take 15 to 20 minutes at a moderate pace to get to the site from the trailhead.
A bit more than half-way there the trail curls around a small cluster of wildflowers. “A perfect little rock garden,” says Wintauna Belt, recreation specialist at the Mountain Home Ranger District, which administers the trail.
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That rock garden and the main field farther on look suspiciously like they’ve been planted. But they’re natural.
Fields like these used to be more the norm than the exception, says DeBolt, the Botanical Garden botanist.
“It is common to have that type of display in many different habitats,” she says. “It is just that so much of our world has been altered, particularly by invasive plant species, we don’t get to see it as often anymore.”
You’ll know when you get to the main site: the trail emerges from the trees to a bare hillside — except for the flowers — and an open view looking east, south and west. The flowers have just started to bloom and should peak in late June or early July.
As long as you’re up there and if you’re feeling ambitious, continue along the trail. It goes around the mountain and hooks up with the trail you just came up. You’ll get views of mountains to the west, north and east, including the backside of the Sawtooths, still clad in snow in mid-June. Flowers along this section hang around later into summer, including a big field of lupine on the east side of the mountain. As you continue on this trail, you’ll come upon a couple of junctions. Taking a right at each junction gets you back to trailhead sooner than if you keep to the left. But all trails get you back the trailhead.
To get there: Drive up Bogus Basin Road to the ski area. Drive past the ski area for about 3.5 miles to a junction and a sign pointing right to the Shafer Butte Picnic Area. Turn right and drive about 1 mile up that road; keep veering to the left at the top to the trailhead parking area. The trailhead is just to your left. Remember, stay to the left as you hit the trail. The trail and nearby picnic sites and campground are in a National Forest Service fee area. Parking and picnic is $5; camping is $10.