Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Falls Creek Trail

Location: Near Athol, Idaho
Duration: 2-3 Day
Season: Summer - Fall
Distance: ~ 16 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

If you're looking for a trip during hot weather than this is a "cool" backpacking trip along a mountain stream with shade from the dense canopy of the trees. Located in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, a land of dense forests, abundant wildlife, scenic mountains and giant cedars, Falls Creek Trail #229 is a great little trip. It starts along the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, the state's largest lake at 94,600 acres and climbs its way up to the summit of Packsaddle Mountain at 6405 feet.

As for the trail, it’s a pretty clean trail that makes approximately a 3700ft elevation gain over 7.5 miles to the summit. There are plenty of primitive campsites along the way and being located in the Falls Creek drainage makes for a nice trip on those hot summer days. You can also drive in part way and start your trip at Falls Creek Mine, shaving about 2 miles off the route.

On the trail, you start out hiking up old logging roads until you reach the Falls Creek Mine. From here the trail dives into the deep forest canopy, winding along the creek and crossing numerous little streams. A little ways after the Mine, the trail begins to narrow down from an old logging road to more like a trail. As it works its way up the drainage it crosses over Falls Creek twice and the second time tit leaves the Creek and begins to switchback up the hill to the top. This is where the climbing really begins.

As you finally near the top, you will come to a few trail junctions. Just read the markers and keep going up hill and you’ll soon be there. At the summit saddle just climb the biggest boulder pile and you’re there.

NOTE: There’s a nice tent spot at the top, but make sure you have some water because there’s none to be found on top of this peak. Fill-up at your last crossing of Falls Creek. Also, if you want, you could combine this trip with the Packsaddle hike and just climb up the eastside of Packsaddle and then descend the westside for an easier ascent, but longer trip.

Directions: From I-90 in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, head north on Highway 95 towards Athol Idaho. Approximately 3 miles before Athol, you will come to Silverwood Theme Park on your right (westside of Hwy 95), there’s a road just before the Park, turn right at this intersection onto Bunco Road (there are signs indicating this turnoff as the Bunco Rd entrance into the National Forest).
  • Follow the road for about 2.3 miles and the signs will direct you to turn left, continue down this road for 1 mile as it then turns right and now 4 more miles to the entrance into the National Forest and the end of the pavement. There’s a big parking lot here for snowmobiles in the winter, just head past it and up the hill on FSR #332. Travel up the hill and along the ridges on FSR #332 for approximately 6 miles until you come to the intersection of FSR #278.
  • Now go left on FSR #278 as it winds its way through the mountains, all the way to the turnoff for Falls Creek Trail, approximately 25 miles. You will drive past Lakeview and about 2.5 miles past Whiskey Rock Bay, you will cross over Falls Creek, the turnoff is just 50ft past it. If you’ve make it to Granite, you’ve gone too far.
For a map, pictures and more info click on Falls Creek Trail

See you on the trail,

All Day Energy Runners

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