Middle Fork Ranger District Trails

Wilderness and Wildflowers, July 2020 The Middle Fork Ranger District  (MFRD) office is located in Challis, Idaho, and is one of six districts on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The Middle Fork District administers and oversees overone million acres of land, including over 900,000 acres of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RONRW) area, one of the last intact wild places in the lower 48 states.

A land of steep mountains, deep canyons, and wild rivers, the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness is the second largest Wilderness in the lower 48 states at 2.4 million acres. The FC-RONRW provides outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation experiences, with over 2600 miles of trails linking the various airfields, rivers, trailheads and perimeter access roads. The condition of these access roads varies significantly; some are not suitable for trailers, others are passable only to high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicles or ATVs. The best opportunities for solitude are in the trailless areas, which total 1.5 million acres in the Wilderness. Maintenance of this large, remote wilderness trail system is challenging. Large fires, short field seasons, limited access, and Mother Nature (wind, rain, slides, etc.) all contribute to the difficulties of keeping these trails open. Most of the trails were built before 1930; many are steep, rocky, eroded, poorly located and poorly drained. Numerous trails are in primitive condition.

Evening at Herd Lake, July 2017 The Middle Fork also manages the recently designated Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness.


Trail Condition Report

Some trails do not receive regular maintenance and may be difficult to navigate or find. Note the date last maintained when reviewing the last known conditions, then read the Notes to see if the entire trail was maintained or just a portion. Pistol Creek, Trail #228, Avalanche Debris - before

Designation of a road, trail, or area should not be interpreted as an implication that the road, trail, or area is passable, actively maintained, or safe for travel. Seasonal weather conditions and natural events may render designated roads, trails, and areas impassable for extended periods. Some trails have been significantly affected by fire and natural events and may no longer exist or be extremely difficult to find. Maintenance of designated roads, trails, and areas will depend on available resources, and many may receive little maintenance.

Forest visitors should carry a saw and a shovel, as wind or other weather events may cause trees to block roads and/or trails at any time. Appropriate clothing and additional food and water are also advised.

Allowed uses of trails within the wilderness are limited to pedestrian and stock use. The use of bicycles, game carts, motorbikes, ATVs, UTVs, etc., is not allowed within wilderness. Drones may not be operated within the wilderness.

Over 271 miles of trail were maintained by the District in 2019. To see the mileage summary by trail, click here. For details about the last known condition of each trail, click here.

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2020 Wilderness Trails

Clearing trails in the Indian Creek drainage, August 20-26, 2020

On Thursday, August 20th, Middle Fork Ranger District Employees Parker, Phillips, Taylor and Harriss, accompanied by 5 MCC crew members, flew into Indian Creek Guard Station from Challis to head up the Indian Creek Trail #225. This trail connects the Middle Fork Trail #001 to Trail #088 on the wilderness boundary. Phillips, Taylor, and MCC crew members Deepchandi, Adase, and Elgart cleared up the Indian Creek Trail from Indian Creek's confluence with the Middle Fork of the Salmon. They encountered some light logging, a few retread sections and primarily spent time brushing the thick riparian vegetation in this lower portion of the trail, ending the day at the Middle Fork of Indian Creek.

Indian Creek Trail, August 2020

Photo: Indian Creek Trail

Harriss, Parker, Sparling and Rothschild spent the afternoon brushing and pulling knapweed around the airstrip.

Friday the 21st, the entire crew loaded up overnight packs and headed up the Indian Creek trail to the Middle Fork of Indian Creek. They left overnight gear at the confluence and continued clearing up the trail.

Saturday the 22nd, Phillips, Taylor and crew worked primarily on brushing and removal of loose rock that has accumulated over the years. They also had time for some retread in certain spots. The trail is consistently on a steep side hill very high above the creek and can be narrow in many sections between the Middle Fork of Indian Creek and Kwiskwis Hot Springs. Parker, Harriss and crew worked ahead doing some light logging and removing large rocks from the trail.

Sunday the 23rd, Phillips plus four worked on reestablishing about a 300 foot section of trail where several landslides/blowouts were impeding navigation. They also spent time brushing a long choked out section of trail about a half mile above Kwiskwis Creek. Parker plus two hiked past Little Indian Creek to finish clearing several log piles that were still there from the last hitch.

Monday the 24th, Parker, Harriss and the 5 MCC crew members hiked back to the Middle Fork of Indian Creek, improving the thin areas of tread on the way. Phillips and Taylor sawed 10-12 remaining trees around Kwiskwis Creek in the morning and then hiked and removed rocks as well behind the rest of the crew back towards the Middle Fork of Indian Creek.

Tuesday the entire crew loaded up gear and headed to the confluence of Indian Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Parker, Harriss, Sparling and Rothschild continued downriver from the confluence working on a section of the Middle Fork Trail #001. After returning to the Indian Creek Guard Station, Phillips, Taylor, Deepchandi, Adase, and Elgart scraped and repainted the corner markers on the upriver side of the airstrip. They also removed additional brush and grasses around the markers and pulled some knapweed.

In summary, the group cleared 11.5 miles of trail and conducted solitude monitoring throughout the trip. Two fire rings were naturalized on this trip and three were cleaned of garbage and excess ash. In total, 45 person-hours were spent on airstrip maintenance.

This trail is not recommended for pack stock travel from the Middle Fork of Indian Creek and Kiwah Meadow, due to narrow out sloping tread and multiple landslides.

Sunrise over Indian Creek, late August 2020

Sunrise over Indian Creek


Mule Hill and Indian Creek Trails, August 6-13, 2020

On August 6, Middle Fork Ranger District employee Harriss and three Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) Fellows departed the Challis office enroute to trail #219, the Mule Hill Trail. This connects Thunder Mountain Road to the Indian Creek Trail #225. Work began the next morning and that trail was completed the morning of August 9.

Mule Hill, August 2020

The crew continued downstream from Kiwah Meadows onto the Indian Creek Trail, where they encountered a large landslide that was discovered last year. After attempting to cut across the landslide that afternoon and the following morning, efforts to make a repair on this spot were abandoned.

Monday, August 10th, the crew worked further downstream from Little Indian Creek on the Indian Creek Trail about a mile before encountering another much smaller avalanche. Tuesday, August 11th the crew finished clearing this section before packing up camp and hiking back to the trailhead. On August 13, they returned to Challis.

In summary, 4 miles of trail were cleared. The crew conducted solitude monitoring throughout the trip and cleaned 3 fire rings. This trail is not advised for stock below Kiwah Meadows.


Trail work in the Big Baldy area, July 2020

On Wednesday July 22nd Middle Fork Ranger District employee Harriss and three Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) Fellows departed the Challis office enroute to the Big Baldy Ridge Trail #227. This section of trail spans from the wilderness boundary to Big Baldy lookout, joining trail #228 at Little Pistol Creek.

On Thursday the 23rd, the crew loaded up daypacks and set out on trail #090 from the road clearing to the confluence with trail #088. There were several large complex log cuts and extensive drainage work in this section.

The next day, Friday the 24th, the crew loaded up overnight packs and headed down trail #090, continuing clearing on trail #088 to trail # 227- Big Baldy Ridge trail. They continued clearing a mile down the Baldy Ridge Trail before heading to Buck Lake to base camp.

Buck Lake, July 2020

On Saturday the 25th the crew worked out of the Buck Lake basin, clearing approximately ½ mile in each direction. The following day, Sunday the 26th, the crew headed back along trail #227, clearing another mile of steep heavily logged terrain.

On Monday the 27th, an additional mile of trail #227 was cleared.

Tuesday the 28th, the crew finished clearing an additional mile of trail before hiking back to the trailhead.

Big Baldy Ridge Trail #4227, July 2020, before Big Baldy Ridge Trail #4227, July 2020, after

Before and After photos of Big Baldy Trail #227

In summary, trail #009 was cleared 0.6 miles from road #479, trail #088 was cleared an additional 3 miles. Most of trail #227 was cleared between Pistol Rock and Buck Lake, with the exception of a heavily logged one mile section. The crew will return to the area later this season to attempt to finish clearing that in addition to the rest of the section between Buck Lake and Big Baldy Lookout.


More trail work in the Rapid River drainage, July 2020

On July 22, Middle Fork Ranger District employee Taylor and Montana Conservation Corps. (MCC) Fellows Hild, Elgart, and Rothschild departed the Challis office enroute to the Rapid River Trail, #4007. The Rapid River trail starts at the edge of the “Seafoam bubble” near the confluence of Float Creek and Rapid River. It is one of the major tributaries to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and a historic route to access the Middle Fork. The crew would spend this hitch continuing efforts from their last hitch clearing the Rapid River trail.

Rapid River Trail, July 2020

The first day, the 22nd, the crew hiked about 6.5 miles to Sheep Creek to set up a camp to base out for the next few days.

The next day, July 23rd, the crew split up into a saw team and a team that would focus on improving trail tread. The work was focused in the mile above Sheep Creek and the mile downstream of Sheep Creek. The saw team cut several large and complex downed Douglas Fir trees. The digging team re-established the trail tread and the back slope in several long landslide sections, as well as brushed the trail in areas that needed it. The crew experienced heavy rains and thunderstorms on and off throughout the day.

Lunch break along Rapid River, July 2020 Friday the 24th, the crew continued working downstream from Sheep Creek. The crew spent a significant amount of time brushing in several long sections of trail choked out with riparian shrubs and trees. The trail corridor was indistinguishable in many of those sections before the work was completed. The crew also cut several complex logs and re-established tread in several side hill sections. The crew made it about 1.5 miles below Sheep Creek this day. That evening, Middle Fork employee Gaspar joined the crew to work for the next few days.

Syringa along Rapid River, July 2020 Saturday the 25th, the crew continued downstream with the logging, brushing and tread work. The crew made it to about a half mile above Spuce Creek.

Sunday the 26th, the crew bumped their camp downstream about two miles down canyon to a camp between Spruce Creek and Chet Creek. They continued with the clearing downstream the rest of the day.

On Monday the 27th, Gaspar and Hild hiked out to the trail head and the rest of the crew continued working downstream. The crew ultimately made it to Cabin Creek with the clearing. The trail is now passable for stock up until this point when accessed from the Seafoam area. Big cut on Rapid River, July 2020

The next day the 28th the crew packed up camp and spent more time bushing the trail corridor out to standard as well as widening tread in certain spots and re-cutting a large tree that was digging into the trail tread. The crew camped at Bruin Creek, about four miles from the trailhead that night.

The next day the 29th the crew hiked out and drove back to Challis.

 The work was slow as many trail sections required extensive brushing to keep the trail passable and visible. The canyon is very steep so many side hill sections had slid over the tread and tread had to be re-dug and established again. The logging was fairly light but nearly all the trees encountered were quite complex and time consuming because they were large and on steep slopes. Big tree on the Rapid River Trail, July 2020

The crew naturalized and cleaned garbage out of two fire rings.


Trail work in the Rapid River drainage, July 2020

Resupplying RuffneckLookout, July 8, 2020

On Tuesday, July 7th, Phillips, Knudson and Dopp traveled to Cape Horn Guard Station with 11 head of horses and mules for the annual re-supply trip to Ruffneck Lookout. On July 8th, they made the loads, and had a smooth trip to the top of the mountain with around 650 pounds of food, water and gear for the lookout. Trash and other items were backhauled.  Thanks to the Ramshorn Fire Module for clearing the trail! Phillips took 5 head of horses and mules to Seafoam and headed on to meet the crew working on the Rapid River trail.

Crosscut saw work on Rapid River Trail #4017, July 2020
Also on July 8th, Middle Fork District employee Taylor, along with three of the Middle Fork’s MCC trail crew members, Rothchild, Elgart, and Hild drove from the Challis office to the Rapid River trailhead with the goal of clearing trail #4007 as far as they could by early the next week.  The trail follows the Rapid River drainage about 15 miles to its confluence with the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The crew cleared the first 1.5 miles of trail that first day and camped at Bruin Creek 4 miles down canyon from the trailhead where they would base out of for several days.

Blowdown across Rapid River Trail #4107, July 2020, beforeBlowdown across Rapid River Trail #4107, July 2020, after

Before and After photos

The next day the 9th the crew connected the trail clearing from where they left off the prior day to close to their camp about 4 miles in at Bruin Creek. This consisted up sawing blow downs, shoveling rock slides, retreading trail surface and some brushing. Taylor departed on the 10th, and Phillips rode in to join the crew and continue working downstream. On the 11th, the crew encountered large landslides that would make up the bulk of the work for the next few days. The crew traveled out on the 14th and back to Challis.

Trees across the Rapid River Trail #4017, July 2020

The trail is clear and passable to Sheep Creek. Several narrow rocky spots could be hazardous to pack stock below Lucinda Creek. The MCC crew worked hard on the trail and they were all able to do a little bit of riding and help out with the horses and mules.

Rapid River Canyon is scenic, steep and dynamic. The prevalence of rockfall and landslides made it slow going this year. We intend to go back in the fall and hopefully finish clearing the trail through to the Middle Fork.


Trail work in the Seafoam area, July 8-14, 2020

Beautiful lake in the Seafoam country, July 2020

The above photo is an unnamed lake above Float Creek.

On July 8, Middle Fork District employees Harriss and Parker, accompanied by 3 MCC crew members, departed for the Josephus Lake Trailhead.

After arriving late that afternoon, the crew was able to begin clearing Soldier Lakes Trail #4013. In addition, they removed trash from popular trailhead campsites and fire rings around Josephus Lake.

The morning of the 9th, the crew loaded up overnight packs with plans to camp around Helldiver Lake. They headed up trail #4013, clearing trail the additional 2 miles to Helldiver Lake. They spent most of the day logging out the trail as well as brushing and removing debris from water bars and culverts. The crew also spent time removing trash from popular campsites around Helldiver Lake.

Crosscut saw work on Soldier Lakes Trail #4013, July 2020

On the morning of the 10th, after camping near Helldiver Lake and cleaning campsites around some of the smaller lakes in the area, the crew continued clearing trail from Helldiver on trail #4013 towards the Soldier Lakes. After removing trash from fire rings at popular campsites around several of the Soldier Lakes, the crew continued logging the trail and removing rocks and debris from the many water bars for approximately 2 miles until the junction of trail #4013 and #4019, the Cutthroat trail. The crew then continued clearing down trail #4019 for an additional 2 miles to Cutthroat Lake to camp for the night.

The morning of the 11th, the crew loaded up overnight packs and continued clearing up trail #4019, the Cutthroat trail, to the junction with trail #4018, the Muskeg Creek trail, approximately ½ mile away from camp. Trail #4018 was then cleared from that junction to the junction with trail #4013, two miles west. The Big Soldier Lookout trail was logged to the lookout, approximately one mile from the junction of trail #013 and trail #018. The crew then returned from the lookout and continued in the opposite direction down Patrol Ridge on trail #4013, clearing most of that section back to the Soldier Lakes to camp for the night.

Soldier Lakes Trail #4013, July 2020

Above photo: Patrol Ridge.

On the morning of the 12th, the crew loaded up tools and finished clearing logs and rock from the trail on the section of trail #4013 that had not been cleared the day before. They then packed up camp and continued on to check the remaining campsites at the Soldier Lakes for trash. They continued on trail #4013 back over the section that had already been cleared, proceeding to cut several trees that had come down in the previous night’s windstorm.

On the 13th the crew loaded up day packs and continued clearing from Helldiver Lake on trail #4014 to tie in with work done by the Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation (SBFCF). After tying in that trail, they continued back to their camp for the night.

On the 14th they packed up all gear and hiked back to the trailhead from above Helldiver Lake along trail #4013, logging out an additional 10 trees that had blown down in the windstorm during the hitch.

In summary, the crew cleared 16.5 miles of trail, removing approximately 180 trees, completing the intended route and tying in to work done by the SBFCF crew. Public contacts were made with 17 people. Twenty-three wilderness campsites were cleaned of trash and several were naturalized.

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Trail work in the Loon Creek and Langer Lake areas, late June 2020

Hiking along Loon Creek, late June 2020 

On June 24, Middle Fork Ranger District employees Parker, Harriss, Taylor, Sammer, Phillips, and six Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) interns travelled to the Phillips Creek Transfer Camp to work on the Loon Creek Trail #101. Syringa along Loon Creek, June 2020

They shovelled loose rock off the trail and dug retread where slides had occurred over the winter, sawing blowdowns and clearing trail for about 10 miles, down to Falconberry Guard Station. This section of trail receives a high amount of use and requires significant annual maintenance due to the nature of the terrain. Looking down Loon Creek, late June 2020

Sammer teaches single bucking to MCC crew, June 2020 Training objectives were accomplished as long-time Middle Fork employees Sammer, Parker and Phillips covered a wide range of trails and wilderness stewardship topics and skills for the crew. The crew also cleaned several campsites and packed out garbage.

On June 29th, Sammer and Parker met up with Loon Creek Guard Bond and they headed for Seafoam Guard Station to open it for the season.

Leaving Langer Lake, June 30, 2020 Taylor and the six MCC crew members headed to Langer Lake to do trail work, clean campsites and get training on campsite and solitude monitoring.

On Trail #014, the crew cleared 23 water bars of debris and sediment and did some light logging too. Ruffneck Peak and unnamed lake, June 29, 2020


While at Langer Lake, the crew naturalized 3 fire rings and also cleaned 3 other fire rings of ash and garbage. The crew packed out about 15 pounds of trash from campsites including glass, clothing, human waste, and a variety of other micro trash.

Island Lake, June 29, 2020 The crews returned to Challis the afternoon of the 30th.


First patrol of 2020

To start the field season, Middle Fork District employees Taylor and Cognetti headed to Boundary Creek on June 9 to clean the bathrooms at the launch site, the campgrounds, and at the transfer camp/trailhead. These facilities are scheduled to be cleaned twice a week to benefit public health and experiences while recreating in these areas. The crew wore additional PPE and took extra precautions while performing these duties to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That same day, two people from the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation (SBFCF) started from the Marsh Creek Trailhead, clearing downstream on the Marsh Creek Trail #111. They logged out the trail for the first 2 miles and cleaned debris out of water bars and culverts as well as re-establishing the trail tread in some landslide sections.

On June 10, Taylor and Cognetti drove from Boundary Creek to the Marsh Creek Trailhead; they first had to spend a few hours clearing trees off the Boundary Creek Road due to a recent storm. They met Volunteer Dorr at the trailhead  and headed down the trail to meet up with the SBFCF staff. The five of them worked the rest of day to clear about 3 miles of trail, logging out trees, shoveling out landslides and pushing large boulders off the trail.

They were then joined by Rangers Parker and Phillips and everyone headed down the trail to Big Hole, clearing trail and cleaning trash and fire rings on the 11th.

The two SBFCF staff headed back to their duty stations on the 12th, and the remaining crew of five (Taylor, Cognetti, Dorr, Parker & Phillips) worked downstream from Big Hole on the upper Middle Fork Trail, #001.

Moving big rocks off the trail, June 2020 The crew spent time clearing large rockslides from the trail and removing blow downs. In the afternoon, they hit a section of trail almost 2 miles downstream of Big Hole that was badly damaged by the earthquake and avalanche events that occurred in the area this winter; it was deemed too hazardous to pass with the current water level. A blasting crew will have to revisit this section in the future. The crew packed up camp, hiked out and drove to Boundary Creek to stage themselves to work up from the Dagger Falls Trailhead on the 13th.

The next day, the crew spent the day clearing from Dagger Falls up to Chicken Creek on the Middle Fork Trail #001 a total of three miles, encountering heavy to moderate logging and some rainy weather.

The following day, three members of the crew, Cognetti, Taylor, and Dorr, spent the morning clearing down the Bear Valley Creek Trail #012 to the first ford, about 2 miles total.

Avalanche debris below Big Hole, June 12, 2020 There were some large and destructive rockslides and landslides in this section, likely triggered by earthquakes this winter as well as numerous avalanche events. The crew was able to address most of the impacts from earthquake/avalanche events but for some sections, the crew will have to make blasting plans and come back out with different and more powerful tools to address these issues. Marsh Creek canyon and the upper Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a fine showcase of how young and dynamic the mountains of the Salmon River Range are. High water, avalanches, fire, earthquakes are just a few of the landscape-changing events that create constant challenges for the people responsible for maintaining these historic trails that access the lands surrounding the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Stock users: It is not recommended to take stock on this section of trail from the Marsh Creek trailhead #111 to the Dagger Falls trailhead #001.

Before and after photos of a rock slide:

Before - Rock Slide on the upper MF trail, June 2020  After - Rock Slide on the upper MF trail, June 2020


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2019 Wilderness Trails

Last patrol of 2019

Large tree cut out of the Middle Fork Trail at Saddle Camp, Sept. 26, 2019

For the final hitch of the season, wilderness trail crew employees (Khalil Taylor, Ellie Fitzpatrick, and Mary Satterthwaite) combined with river patrol (Lynn Richardson and Chris Freistadt) and invasive species specialist (Tommy Gionet) to accomplish multiple objectives in one trip. Their mission:

  • to address trail problems and do deferred maintenance between Boundary Creek and Thomas Creek on trail (#001), particularly through the 2018 Prospect Fire area;

  • monitor sites where crews had treated noxious weeds earlier in the season as well as prior seasons and do some light treatment where appropriate;

  • accomplish normal river patrol tasks along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River corridor.

Winter storms arrived on Sunday, Sept. 29th, bringing snow and cold temperatures to the area. Below, compare the beautiful fall weather from the start of the trip (River Mile 6) to the wintery photo taken near Grouse Creek a few days later.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Mile 6, Sept. 26, 2019

Winter weather at Grouse Creek, Sept. 29, 2019


Packing out Ruffneck Lookout, September 9, 2019

Packing out Ruffneck Lookout, Sept. 9, 2019

Middle Fork Trail #4001, Boundary Creek to Joe Bump, June 26-July 1, 2019

FS employee Khalil Taylor met up with Selway-Bitterroot-Frank Church-Foundation (SBFCF) employees (Page) and 9 volunteers from Idaho and Montana, plus a devoted member of the Treasure Valley Backcountry Horsemen (TVBCH), Lewis, who would provide pack support for the group during the project. The plan: spend about 6 days improving the Middle Fork Trail (#4001) below Boundary Creek, with a focus on the section between Trail Flat and Joe Bump.

About two weeks prior, the Ramshorn Fire Module out of Clayton spent 5 days logging out this section of trail, which allowed them to focus on important maintenance tasks. This included brushing out the trail corridor, addressing drainage issues to prevent erosion/washout, maintaining existing drainage structures, resurfacing tread on the many sensitive side hill sections, as well as shoveling rockslides and moving large boulders and trees within the trail corridor. While the group was working downstream, the trail crew based out of Indian Creek was working upriver from Indian Creek with a goal of tying the all the work together.

Despite having just been cut out, they cut out 6 new trees that had fallen across the trail in the vicinity of Sulphur Creek, which was burnt in the Prospect Fire last fall (2018). After a fire, trees across the trail should be anticipated for several years to follow in burned areas.

Middle Fork Trail #4001 - prep before building rock wall Middle Fork Trail #4001 -after building rock wall

The amount of work needed to build rock walls, install water bars, clear sediment, brush, debris and downfall ate up significant amounts of time, but they did make it as far as the talus slope above Powerhouse Rapid. The above photos show work before and after building a rock wall.

Stock support by Treasure Valley Backcountry Horsemen for Middle Fork Trail 4001 The pack support provided by Lewis of the Treasure Valley Backcountry Horsement was significant to the success and amount of work the crew was able to accomplish. Lewis made multiple trips with just a few pack animals, providing equipment and food for a hungry, hard-working group of employees and volunteers.

Many thanks to all.


Upper Middle Fork Trail #4001, upstream of Dagger Falls, June 12-18, 2019

Tree removal after damaging bridge, June 2019 Bryan Parker and Sam Ridinger were joined by three crew members from the Selway-Bitterroot-Frank Church Foundation (Josh, Brianna and Hannah) in a joint effort to clear the Upper Middle Fork Trail. Starting at Dagger Falls, the crew worked upstream until they reached a flooded portion of the trail. Bryan and Josh drove out and started working downstream from the Marsh Creek Trailhead off Highway 21, clearing the Marsh Creek Trail #4111 downstream until they reached the flooded section of trail, tying together their earlier efforts.

The crew then began clearing the heavily logged in Beaver-Halstead Trail #4019; completing 1.5 miles before the end of this hitch. A total of 17 miles of trail was accomplished, along with numerous public contacts, wilderness character monitoring, campsite cleaning and condition surveys were also completed.


Pistol Creek Trail #4228, June 12-18, 2019

Ellie Fitzpatrick and the Helena Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) flew into Indian Creek and headed up the Pistol Creek drainage. Pistol Creek Ranch had cleared the trail to the hot springs (about ½ mile upstream of the pack bridge at Pistol Creek and Little Pistol Creek, until encountering avalanche debris.

Ellie and the MCC crew re-established tread from the mouth of Pistol Creek to the hot springs, including a 100-foot section of trail that had slumped and required re-digging the backslope. They also brushed out the trail from the pack bridge to ½ mile downstream of Twenty-Five Creek.

They then discovered more avalanche activity that swept debris across the trail ~1/2 mile upstream of the hot springs, as well as water across the trail. The crew and Fitzpatrick cleared the debris and rerouted around the flooded section.

Pistol Creek, Trail #228, Avalanche Debris - before Pistol Creek, Trail #228, Avalanche Debris - after

While scouting, Fitzpatrick found four more avalanche slides between the junction of Trail #4228 and #4230 and Twenty-two Creek; one significantly affected Trail #4228 and is located between Popgun and Twenty-two Creeks. Significant log jams crossed Pistol Creek and spread onto the trail, accompanied by snow and rock. The tread is indistinguishable for ~400 feet. MCC is working their way up to the avalanche debris, with the goal of attempting to make Trail #4228 passable through this section.


Mahoney Airstrip Maintenance Project, May 1-11, 2019

Raina Phillips, Bryan Parker, Khalil Taylor, Mary Satterthwaite and Ellie Fitzpatrick started the first hitch of the season with the Mahoney Airstrip Maintenance Project.

Bryan and Khalil started from Meyers Cove; they cleared and shoveled the trail on their way in, arriving at the airstrip to meet the volunteers on May 4. With the help of the nine volunteers, they painted all 12 markers, brushed out the length of the airstrip, dug a new latrine hole and moved the privacy screen, all while battling heavy, frequent winds. Once these tasks were completed, Bryan and Khalil cleared upriver to Range Creek.

Setting up for blasting project, May 2019 Raina, Ellie and Mary took nine head of stock in to Meyers Cove, where they met Robert Long. They spend two days packing in to Grouse Creek to complete a blasting mission along Trail #4001 between Grouse and Little Aparejo Creek. Blasting was necessary to widen and improve the tread and was accomplished by Raina and Robert.

After the blasting project, Raina, Ellie and Mary continued downstream to Mahoney to begin maintenance work on the airstrip with the stock.

Mike the mule pulled the slip, scooping over a dozen loads of dirt in one day, which was used to fill in ruts and holes in the airstrip. The crew spread dirt, tamped down ruts and smoothed the landing surface.

Using the slip to fill ruts at Mahoney Airstrip, May 2019 Khalil and Mary lined the elk wallows at Mahoney with a granular repellant, hoping to deter future animal damage to the airstrip.

The crew also naturalized camps, cleaned out a fire ring containing cans and trash, as well as performing brush and dirt work along the trails as they travelled to and from their work sites.


Regulations and Recommendations for Hikers and Stock Users

  • Travel in small groups. The maximum group size is 20.
  • Stay on the trails; do not cut switchbacks.
  • Select campsites that are out of sight of, and at least 200 feet from, lakes, streams, trails. Along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, this is not always possible due to topography. Campsites along the Middle Fork are assigned to boating parties, and hikers or stock users should expect to share sites in this heavily-used area.
  • Keep soap and detergent out of water sources (hot springs, lakes, streams, rivers). Use biodegradable soap and be careful it does not get into the water (use/dispose at least 200 feet from water).
  • Pack out all trash. Pick up any garbage left by others.
  • Fires: Within the Middle Fork’s ¼-mile Wild and Scenic River corridor, all fires must be contained within a fire pan and ashes must be packed out. Outside the river corridor, this is recommended, but not required.
  • Toilet talk: Within the Middle Fork’s ¼-mile Wild and Scenic River corridor, human waste must be packed out and urine should go in the river. Outside the river corridor, human waste should be packed out or buried, and urine should be kept well away from the camp or small water sources.
  • Do not build structures; hitching rails, bough beds, gear racks, etc.
  • Stock Users: All feed must be certified weed-seed weed-free, and should be fed to stock for several days prior to entering the National Forests.
  • Stock must be ridden or led, not permitted to run loose on trails.
  • Stock should not be tied to trees for more than an hour or two; use a highline system to avoid damage to roots and soil.
  • Before leaving an area where manure has accumulated, scatter it with a stick to speed up decomposition.

The open trails, roads and areas are identified on the District’s Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs), which are available at the local Forest Service offices and can be printed from the Maps & Publications page of the Salmon-Challis National Forest website.