Winter Recreation

Ski or snowshoe at the foot of the Boulder Mountains

Skiers and snowshoers feel like minute beings when they're trekking at the foot of the Boulder Mountains.

This is big country, where 11,000-foot mountains rise up from the valley floor northwest of Ketchum.

The Wood River meanders through a land of ice and snow in the shadow of rugged granite peaks.

If you really want to feel small, strap on a pair of snowshoes or skis and spend a day in the cradle of this mountain range.

Check out the three trail systems that put you at the base of the mountains.

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The Wood River's gurgling and slushing add nature's background music to the Billy's Bridge trail system at the base of the Boulders.

Then there's the whistling of the wind.

Then there's the panorama of the mountains before you.

"It's gorgeous. It's the best vacation spot," said Heather Schmitt, who was snowshoeing in the area with her friend, Ryan Kemp.

The couple from Seattle relished the scenery as they explored the trail and banks of the snow-shrouded river.

It sure is gorgeous. The Billy's Bridge Trail is right at the base of the Boulder Mountain range.

You can stand on the trail and be taken in by the amazing views of the rugged snow-covered peaks.

You can watch as wind whips snow off the 11,000-foot peaks and sculpts cornices on the ridgelines.

Just think. Those high ridgelines in the area are part of the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill proposed by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson.

Don't try to get too far up into the mountains. It's avalanche country and out of reach for most skiers and snowshoers.

But don't worry. Three trail systems on the north side of Idaho 75 between Sun Valley and Galena Summit give you some easy ways to bask in the awesomeness of the proposed wilderness peaks. North Fork, Billy's Bridge and Galena Lodge trails are up close and personal to the mountain range.

"I absolutely love it," said Bruce Schultz of Madison, Wis., as he strapped on a pair of rental snowshoes at Galena Lodge to do some trekking on the Galena trails with his son, Bubba.

You'll love it, too.

CHECK OUT THESE TRAILS

North Fork Loop

What: A 4K (about 2.4 miles) loop that winds up the canyon of the North Fork of the Wood River.

What’s cool: The snowy canyon and the meandering stream. Dogs are allowed. Ski trails are groomed.

Open to: Nordic skiers and snowshoers.

Getting there: Drive 8 miles north of Ketchum on Idaho 75 and turn right at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters.

Billy’s Bridge loops

What: An 8K (about 5 miles) loop on the flats at the bottom of the Boulders.

What’s cool: You are right at the bottom of the Boulder Mountains and have fantastic views of 11,000-foot peaks. Trails also skirt the Wood River. In some spots you can hear the stream gurgling under the ice. Ski trails are groomed. Dogs are allowed.

Open to: Nordic skiers and snowshoers.

Getting there: Drive 16 miles north of Ketchum on Idaho 75. The trailhead is on the right.

Galena Lodge

What: Galena Lodge has a 50K (around 30 miles) groomed trail system at the northwest end of the Boulder Mountains in the shadow of mountaintops like 11,170-foot Galena Peak.

What’s cool: Galena Lodge is a perfect place to warm up and enjoy your favorite lunch and beverage. Try the split pea soup, homemade bread and the River Bend Brewing Co.’s Pica Pica Porter.

Trails cut through meadows and timbered country with views of both the Boulder and Smoky Mountains.

Dogs are allowed on some of the trails.

Open to: Nordic skiers and snowshoers. Rentals available.

Getting there: Drive 24 miles north of Ketchum on Idaho 75.

Fees

The following are day pass prices for the trail system:

• Adult, $15.



• Youth (7 to 17), $7.



• Snowshoe, $7.



• Doggie day pass, $7.



• Week ski pass, $60.



Information

• Blaine County Recreation District: Web site with winter trails information, www.bcrd.org.



• Galena Lodge: www.galenalodge.com.



• Trail grooming report for trails around Sun Valley, (208) 578-9754.



To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Pete Zimowsky at pzimowsky@idahostatesman.com or 377-6445.

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