Recreation & Trails of the Salmon-Challis National Forest

Recreation & Trails of the Salmon-Challis National Forest

Basin Valley and Valley Creek Areas

The Basin - Valley Creek area comprises of trails and trailheads within the Basin Creek, Basin Butte, Red Mountain, Potato Mountain and Valley Creek areas that are within the Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District and set the ideal backdrop for outdoor exploration, equestrian use, hiking, biking or backpacking, photography expeditions and more! 

Sustain a successful hike, adventure or trek within the Basin - Valley Cr. Area by downloading offline maps and planning ahead accordingly in order to maximize the experience while minimizing potential distractions. The region is popular for the splendid sundown displays that radiate the evening sky, incredible wildlife and birdlife, nature trails, alpine lakes, and beautiful steep passes. All season gear is appropriate to the general area, waterproof gear, and pack in pack out water source, food, and camping supplies are excellent considerations to add to the list of items to bring along. Check out locations that boast exceptional vistas, attracts endless visitors, hideaway destinations, and ideal sites for a midday soak with geothermal activity hot springs! Area destinations also include mesmerizing landscapes, natural environment, pristine lakes, famous trails, soaring high rock formations, as well as trails that boast demanding river and creek crossings, amazing waterfall displays and more!

Be sure to learn and advance hiking skills before attempting trails with increased levels of challenges. Additionally, hikers may consider starting trails early morning to avoid midday or early afternoon treks, thus eliminating potential unnecessary extremes including temperature changes at sundown, water shortages due to being on the trail longer than expected, and wildlife; stay informed, arrive prepared, and most of all have fun! 

Basin Butte-Prospect Creek Trail #4038 - (4.6 miles +/-)

Basin Creek Transfer Camp Trailhead begins at approximately 6400 feet above sea level and traverses between a lower basin of about 4350 ft, sandwiched between east basin and lower basin. Generous creekside parking is available and an overnight stay with the sounds of the rushing waters may be a consideration at one of the local campsites. One of the highlights of this trail is the epic valley views!

If planning an overnight stay within the region, travelers may check out availability at nearby campgrounds including Salmon River Campground, Casino Creek Campground, Riverside Campground, Mormon Bend Campground, Kelly Creek, Short Creek (seasonal) and Cove Creek Hot Springs (alongside Salmon River Scenic Byway. Night sounds might on occasion include owls, coyotes, and the subtle sounds of any nearby bodies of water. Beyond which lies within the basis of the valley, the bulk of attractions and compelling destinations are dotted generously throughout the entire region. Be sure to consider adding popular hot spots to the destination list including Sunbeam Hot Springs, Redfish Lake, and a host of stops ideal for fishing along the Salmon River.

Additional features within the region include: fields of meadows, lakeside camping, fishing, watersports, photography opportunities, hiking, biking, off-road vehicle use, equestrian, camping, rving, backpacking, trail running, showshowing, cross country skiing, snow-mobiling, nature treks, educational trail exploration, vacationing and much more!

East Fork Valley Trail #4037.03 - (11.2 miles +/-)

The East Fork Valley Trail is positioned in the general vicinity off the State Highway 21 (Idaho Centennial Trail:23) near Valley Creek (originating from Valley Lake) and features beginner to intermediate level challenges while extending a distance of approximately 10 +/- miles with mild to moderate levels of elevation gain. Waiting to be explored at the ready for adventurers, day trekkers, and explorers the trail traverses partially wooded areas, plenty of the treelife burned due to regional fires in past years, with limited ground cover complete with the rocky landscapes and the open terrain. Keep in mind East Fork Valley Trail does not provide much of any shade options; adding sunscreen, extra water, and a cap or hat to the list of items to bring along on the hike may be helpful in order to maximize the experience. Additionally, an offline hardcopy of a regional map may come in use. Mountainous surroundings offer excellent scenic views and are home to area wildlife, seasonal alpine lakes, creeks, and destinations ideal for adventure. Area key points include Sheep Trail Campground, Elk Creek Campground, and Trap Creek Campground.

As you reach the end of this trail, consider visiting the city of Stanley, Idaho before heading home! Discovered by fur trappers in the early 1800’s, the community wasn't officially a town until the early 1900’s and boasts droves of information about the mining, dredging and development of the area; not to mention fascinating hot spots ideal for vacation destinations and weekend getaways!

Additional features within the region include: boating, stand-up paddle boarding, sea-dooing, jet skiing, water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, nature walks, peak bagging, rock hounding (observation only), exercise, geologically significant destinations and tons more!

Hay-Knapp Creek Trail #4032 - (32.5 miles +/-) expert level

Treat yourself to the paradise of Hay-Knapp Creek trail, one of the best paths within the state starting along the historic West Fork Yankee Fork River where it becomes very apparent that the area was once home to a significant degree of dredge work. For the most part the Hay-Knapp Creek trail is well defined, though there are a few areas and junctions that are worthy of mapping online prior to travel so reduce any potential confusion. Views include overlooking portions of Clearly Creek, Ramey Creek, Silver Creek and Jerry’s Creek; not to mention Prospect Point/Lookout Mountain that juts to heights of 9,954’ within the White Cloud Mountain Range. One of the best facets of visiting this area is the wilderness and birdlife. Bald Eagles are known to fish the local ponds and Osprey will make an appearance every now and again.

Plan ahead as this trail is not a loop and may require drop off or transportation between point a and b. Also, consider bringing any and all water necessary to complete the trip and not rely on creeks or lakes in the area as a water source; as most of these sources are seasonal and if there's water available it may or may not contain sediment, micro-organisms, elevated pollution or bacteria levels (not an ideal recipe for a successful trek). A trusted source of water is far better than applying any level of risk taken, especially with the consideration of the length of the trail. Also, the shade is limited in area along the trail and it may prove beneficial to consider bringing along a shade option such as a cap, hat, hood, or ultralight backpacking umbrella and maybe some sunscreen (packets are available at most wellness stores and can help to reduce weighty items in a pack).

Travelers may consider checking out local destinations including the ghost town of Bonanza, Bonanza Cemetery, Bonanza dredge (up the dirt road), further along the dirt road another ghost town (worth the drive, plan ahead - bring food, water, and any necessary extra gas) of Custer that boasts an old mining facility alongside the base of the mountain. As always, before heading out for the trip, be sure to check road closures, and any expected weather year-round!

If planning an overnight stay within the region, travelers may check out availability at nearby campgrounds including Flat Rock Campground, Pole Flat Campground and a bit further out sits Upper O’Brian Campground. If planning a multi-day trip visitors might consider adding Cove Creek Hot Springs to the area destinations list.

Additional features within the region include: seasonal fall colors, birding, commonly backpacked, trails boasting extreme cliff edges, spectacular overlooks, parking area, flora & fauna, early morning mixture of fog & clouds, springtime flowers, post-hike area amenities, scattered woods, aerial views, steeper and more technical trail options, very rocky areas, loose gravel, trails boasting 360 degree view of the surrounding mountain ranges, gentle grades, and countless more!

Kelly Creek Trail #4323 - (1.7 miles +/-) miles

Kelly Creek Trail positioned off Kelly Cr Road #085 and brags novice level challenges while extending a distance of approximately 1.7 +/- miles with the option to connect to surrounding trails with moderate level elevation gain ideal for an enjoyable trek! Visitors may choose to explore the trail as it traverses tree lined pathways complete with the rolling foothills and some marshy terrain. Keep in mind Kelly Creek Trail may pose occasional passages of seasonal drainage from snow melt off and the possibility of getting wet or muddy.

Additional features within the region include: rocky sections, steady climb, mellow decent, chance of getting wet, remote landscapes with dramatic views, connecting trails, easier shallow grade, pet friendly, wildflowers, forest pine, wildlife, moderately trafficked, equestrian use, narrow sections and more!

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