Once upon a time (in June of 2019), The Clearwater Trekkers stumbled out of the woods and onto Fish Creek Road trying to find where the Downriver Trail crossed Fish Creek. We managed it, and after successfully returning to our vehicles, I drove back to see what was at the end of Fish Creek Road. I was not disappointed when I found a new trailhead and chanced upon a hiker just coming off trail. She told me that it was a fun hike and that there was a cabin about 4 miles in worth visiting.
That’s how Fish Creek Trail hit my bucket list.
When our window of opportunity narrowed itself down to Saturday, May 20th, I asked Jacob if he wanted to go back to Canyon Creek Trail on the Dworshak and hike the part of the trail we missed last time, or if he wanted to explore a new trail in the Lochsa area.
“I want to explore something new!” He said, without hesitation. Attaboy! So Fish Creek it was.
The Clearwater Trekkers met up at the old Kooskia Weigh Station, now just a parking area being used for boat inspections, and drove together to the trailhead. Fish Creek Road is just past mile marker 120 if you’re heading east. It’s a sharp left turn immediately upon crossing over the creek. You actually have to turn back a little bit, it’s that sharp of a turn. If you hit the Fish Creek boat ramp (on the right), you’ve gone too far. But that’s ok, because it’s almost easier to turn around at the boat ramp and then take a right onto Fish Creek Road.
But Joe and Leslie were good guides who led us right to Fish Creek Road and down to the trailhead. We passed a lot of rafters camped along the road. I thought they might be staging for a ride down the Lochsa, but apparently, they were riding Fish Creek, which was quite impressive considering how torrential it was and how tight the corners are.
We did not loiter long at the trailhead, hoping to make tracks before the heat settled in.
Fish Creek Trail is fun. It’s an interesting trail with long shady stretches in the trees punctuated by short jaunts along exposed hillside, the latter offering views up and down the length of the creek (frothing white this time of year) and of the high mountain ridges. The creek itself was swollen and turbulent, lapping right up against the trail in spots, or churning noisily down below when the trail would climb up the hillside. There was one major creek crossing along the way, but we kept our shoes mostly dry by walking along the logs and rocks on the downhill side.
Interesting rock features punctuate the landscape. Jacob discovered a small cave with a scattering of bones in it under one such structure. We figure a mountain lion probably used it as a dining room at some point.
Thanks to one of our hikers, Max, who brought a saw, we managed to clear a couple of downed trees off the trail on our way in. Along with cleaning things up, it made hiking out a little bit easier.
The heat really began to catch up with us about 2 miles in as we climbed up and over a ridge. Jacob was tapped out, so Max volunteered to hang out with him in the shade while I descended the other side of the ridge with Leslie and Joe. They were planning on camping out and had more daylight to burn, so when the trail leveled out by the water again, we said our farewells. I filled up on fresh water and headed back up the trail while Joe and Leslie continued on towards Obia Cabin.
This is a feature of The Clearwater Trekkers I would really love to encourage. Hikers of all skill levels are welcome to join us for an outing, without any pressure to over do it. If you and a couple friends want to check out the early part of a trail and head back before the rest of the group, please come do it. Feel welcome to join us and turn back at any point.
Alternatively, perhaps you’d like to participate in the group to learn about new trails or pick a hike for the weekend, but you hike faster and farther than the rest of the group. That’s fantastic. Take cool pictures and share them with us online so we can enjoy your adventure vicariously through you.
Hiking together on new trails and old favorites is only one aspect of what Clearwater Trekking is all about. My hope is that as a community, we can inspire and encourage one another to hit the trail and answer the call to adventure however it is coming to us. Or as we say on our home page, “we Explore the wilds without to Discover the sacred within and Transform our way of being.”
Whatever it is that inspires you to seek the Clearwater, we want to support you on your journey.
Max, Jacob, and I took our time getting back to the trailhead. There were moments where I stopped Jacob along the way and said, “Jacob, look up!” I encouraged him to simply take it all in and reminded him what a privilege it was for us to be here enjoying this wild beauty. I wanted to share with him these moments that refresh my own soul.
Overall, I’d say we did well for our first foray on Fish Creek Trail. Maybe another time, when it’s not 90 degrees out, we’ll make it all the way to Obia Cabin. It’s a beautiful, interesting trail; certainly worth another visit or two!
(Some friends of The Clearwater Trekkers, Jason and Lusha, wrote about their trip up Fish Creek to Obia Cabin back in 2019 on their blog, Evans Outdoor Adventures. It’s a fun read with lots of pictures and worth checking out.)
Naturally, I have no idea where we’ll be hiking in June, but I do have an idea for Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2-4). I would really like to spend 2 nights at Heart Lake in the Mallard Larkins Pioneer Area. We could hike out to the lake on Saturday, September 2nd, spend the 3rd day-hiking Mallard Peak, and then hike out on Monday, September 4th. Provided we’re not canceled by forest fires again, does this sound like a trip you’d like to be on?
Thank you to my fellow Trekkers who explored Fish Creek with me, and Thank you for reading about our adventures. Until next time…Seek the Clearwater!