Hiking & Trails

Here’s why Ridge to Rivers is asking hikers to avoid the new Stack Rock trailhead

A view from the top — the very, very top — of Stack Rock

Stack Rock's peak is just under 5,900 feet, and the out and back hike is a little more than 8 miles. Going higher is not for the inexperienced. Getting to the top takes moderate climbing skills, a good head for heights and a good partner.
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Stack Rock's peak is just under 5,900 feet, and the out and back hike is a little more than 8 miles. Going higher is not for the inexperienced. Getting to the top takes moderate climbing skills, a good head for heights and a good partner.

For the past several weeks, hopeful hikers have traveled up Bogus Basin Road to tackle one of the mountain’s most popular trails — only to realize it’s closed.

The Forest Service announced on Monday that the route to Stack Rock is closed for construction as crews work to finalize a trail connection that has been years in the making. According to the news release, construction began on May 22 and should be complete by late summer. In the meantime, Boise National Forest managers are asking people to stay off the trail and the newly constructed parking area.

“I know people are very excited to use the parking lot and trail, but we need to allow the contractor the time and space to complete the construction,” Mountain Home District Ranger Stephaney Kerley said in the release. “If the contractor has to navigate around the public, it will not only delay the completion of the project but it could put someone at risk.”

A new trailhead and parking area were completed last fall near mile marker 13 on Bogus Basin Road. However, the trail itself wasn’t complete.

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A sign marks the Stack Rock trailhead off of Bogus Basin Road. Though the trailhead and a new parking area were completed last fall, the connection from the trailhead to Eastside Trail is still under construction. Forest Service

The parking area and trailhead were funded through an Ada County Highway District improvement project on Bogus Basin Road, and construction coincided with other maintenance on the road. But the Forest Service had to delay construction on the trail connection because it had not been approved when ACHD’s project began.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because the entire history of the Stack Rock trail is a bit complicated. When it’s completed, the now-closed route will be the shortest one to Stack Rock at about 8 miles round trip. The peak is also accessible by following Eastside Trail from its starting point farther up Bogus Basin Road — but that route is 8 miles each way.

stack rock map

Hikers and mountain bikers have long used a trail created by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley to reach the peak. That trail, known as Entrance Exam, begins and ends on Forest Service land. In 2013, the Land Trust secured easements with the owners of the private land that Stack Rock Trail traverses and began marking the trail. However, the Forest Service doesn’t allow marking or maintenance on trails that aren’t officially part of its system. For hikers and mountain bikers, that meant the first mile or so of the Entrance Exam trail could be tricky to find and follow.

According to Jonathan Krutz, a Ridge to Rivers volunteer ranger who formerly served on the Land Trust’s board of directors, Entrance Exam is still open.

Now that the Forest Service has officially incorporated its own trail, crews are having to do the maintenance and post the signage that was never allowed there before. When it’s completed, the Stack Rock Trail will become part of the Ridge to Rivers network.

Prior to the construction of the new trailhead, which is on the right-hand side of the road as you drive up, trail users parked on the left-hand side of Bogus Basin Road at a small turnout near a blind corner. The trail begins on the left-hand side of the road. In 2017, Kerley told the Statesman that the new parking area and trailhead would be farther up the road to avoid the blind turn. The trail would have to be rerouted to match, she said.

It’s the third time in recent years that routes to the peak have been shut down. In 2016, Entrance Exam was closed for about two months to allow logging on private land that the trail runs through. That fall, the trail closed again for more than a year to allow additional logging — part of a treatment plan for trees infested with beetles and invasive mistletoe.

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The trail connection from the Stack Rock trailhead to Eastside Trail is currently under construction. Forest Service

Boise National Forest spokeswoman Venetia Gempler said the ultimate goal is to divert traffic to the Forest Service route when it opens.

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