The Downriver Trail provides an impressive view of the Lochsa River and surrounding mountain ridges, which is nice since we were looking at that view for five hours while we rucked up the side of the mountain.
Someone told me that the trail leveled out about a quarter of a mile up from the Split Creek parking area. It was more like one and quarter miles! Fortunately, the switchbacks provided a gradual slope that made the climb endurable, even enjoyable. On top of that, expected rains and cold temperatures turned into a beautifully sunny day with strip-the-layers kinda warmth. I did not mind stuffing all our coats and extra layers in my pack at all!
Our goal was a viewpoint marked on the Forest Service map about four miles out from the trail head as the crow flies, but after three miles of switchbacks and nothing but elevation gain the kids were spent. Yeah, it was the “kids” who were ready to turn back. But that’s part of the joy of hiking, isn’t it? You can plan and anticipate all you want (and the more the better), but it’s not until you get boots on the ground that you really know what you’re in for.
If we did it again, we’d start at the eastern end of the trail and follow it downriver. There’s a waterfall closer to that end that would be fun to see, and hopefully the “kids” wouldn’t be too tuckered out to enjoy it. I imagine this trail would be quite hot during the summer, but the tree cover would make that endurable. So would the waterfall. All in all, it was a good hike with good company and a beautiful day to be on the trail.
Till next time, buen camino.