The Hard Creek Meadows Trail is a rarity in Central Idaho. It's in steep, rugged country, but the trail is relatively flat. It sidehills above Hard Creek before meeting up with Hard Creek at Hard Meadows, a grassy field with large, stately ponderosa pines.
If you want a mellow bike ride or an easy, three-mile hike, start at the trailhead. If you want a longer ride on a bike or ATV, start where the bridge crosses Hazard Creek. You will have a short, steep climb, but you will also get to ride it downhill on the return. The trail looks as though it ends at Bascom Canyon, but you can walk across the creek to get to the meadow on the other side. ATV and motorcycle riders should not attempt to cross the creek because the banks are steep and erodable.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take U.S. 95 about 15 miles north of New Meadows and turn right on Hazard Creek Road. About a mile up the road, take the right hand fork to the bridge that crosses Hazard Creek.
Open to: Hikers, mountain bikers, ATVs, motorcycles.
Ideal for: A beginner/intermediate mountain bike ride.
Trailhead elevation: 3,390 feet.
Destination elevation: 3,950 feet.
Length: About 6 miles round trip.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on where you start your ride.
Out and back or loop: Out and back.
Wildlife you might see: Deer, elk, bear, grouse, squirrels.
Notes: To reach the meadows, you will have to cross the creek. You may be able to keep your feet dry depending on how well you balance on wet, slick rocks.
Information: Check out the Payette National Forest map.
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.