The Clearwater Trekkers have had an eye on Canyon Creek Trail #121 on the Dworshak Reservoir for quite some time now, but the 1.2 mile out-and-back trail just wasn’t quite alluring enough to draw us out there. That is, until we heard that the Army Corps of Engineers had extended the trail!
New territory? Now that was worth exploring!
So off we went to the Canyon Creek Boat Launch in search of the unknown, and I guess you could say we found it right away.
There was a hiking sign posted by a closed road, so this is where we set off in search of the actual trailhead. Of course, this road went straight up the hillside, and about half way up I thought to start tracking our hike on Gaia Maps. But when I started the tracker, I noticed that we were not on the trail shown on Gaia Maps, but rather, we were climbing a parallel road that apparently went off in an entirely different direction.
I pointed this out to a couple of fellow hikers and led everyone back down the road in search of the trailhead marked on my map. At the bottom of the road, we ran into a nice fisherman who told me that the trailhead was indeed up the road, so everyone turned around and headed back up. But something about his description of the trail confused me (apparently, not hard to do), and I chose to go with my gut and Gaia Map and look for the trailhead down below. So down everyone came.
One of our group members actually made it to the trailhead with the fisherman and called me on my cell (we had service out there) to tell me she was standing in front of the trailhead, trail map and all. I told her we were standing at the trailhead marked on Gaia and were going to start there, fully expecting to meet up somewhere along the way. But not wanting to hike alone, she back down to join us.
What we found was that the old trail marked on Gaia Maps was closed off by a fallen tree and there were no longer any signs of a trail beyond that point. So back up the hill we all went.
I mean, it was a short hike anyway, right? So who doesn’t want to climb a hill three times before starting out? Yeah, it was ridiculous, especially because I could immediately see how I had made that way more complicated than it needed to be. But leave it to The Clearwater Trekkers to laugh the whole way through and start in on the trail like we’d planned the whole thing. What a wonderful group of hikers!
Once we were underway, the trail proved to be a delight. The sun was streaming through the trees, the world was a vibrant green, and we were exploring something totally new for all of us.
It’s a pretty easy jaunt from the trailhead down to the wooden bridge that crosses Canyon Creek, and the return hike back up the hill isn’t bad, either. The bridge itself is nicely built and scenic in its setting among the trees.
Beyond the Canyon Creek bridge, you’ll want to start following the pink ribbons. There is an already established trail at the outset that takes you across another log bridge, hewn to create a flat top, and then up the hillside with a bit of a switchback. At the top of the switchback you’ll be coming out of the trees following a game trail. This game trail continues along the hillside, but the Canyon Creek Trail actually turns sharply uphill to the right. You’ll have to keep your eye out for the pink ribbons showing the way.
Three of our members were ahead of the pack and found the correct trail with no problem at all. The rest of us came along afterwards and merrily skipped along the game trail. Eventually, though, the game trail fades out into the bushes. Unsure of where we missed the correct turn, we decided to sit down for some lunch and head on back. Of course, we didn’t know if we’d actually gone off course or if the trail was simply not finished here, or what. We were still expecting the rest of our crew to come back to us at some point.
It wasn’t until we were on our way back that we noticed the other pink ribbons, which now had us guessing as to which way to go to get back! I scoped out the ribbons that led to the correct trail and understood what had happened. Now we knew where the trail went and how to get back the way we had come.
I’m really grateful for the good weather and beautiful setting that allowed us to enjoy the whole adventure as a bit of comedy. It might have been quite a different experience if we were guessing our way along in the cold rain. As it was, by the time we got back to our cars, Trekkers were already signing up for the next hike along the Selway River Trail on June 9th. Bless their souls.
The plans in place for the Canyon Creek to Little Bay Trail System are really quite exciting. The intention is to repurpose old logging tracks as foot and horse paths which will make for a pleasant experience. If all goes according to plan, the Canyon Creek Trail will extend beyond the wooden bridge, out along the arm of Canyon Creek to wrap up again above the Dworshak shoreline, loop around the hillside, and end up at the Little Bay campsites. Once it’s all done, this will make for a great place to spend the weekend!
A special thank you to everyone who came on this hike, who enjoyed exploring the unknown, and who dissolved silly mistakes with laughter. You guys are the best! I can’t wait to go hiking with you again.