Saturday, April 22, 2017

Wilson Creek East Ridge Hike

Last edited on April 22, 2017

A ridgeline located just east of Wilson Creek, a tributary to southwestern Idaho's Anderson Ranch Reservoir, was the setting for my April 19, 2017, cross-country and solo hike. The views from the narrow and steep ridgeline were spectacular while the local, boots-on-the-ground environment wasn't so nice. It's a hike that I will probably be doing again.

Distant views of Idaho's Smoky Mountain range during the hike
View looking east from the ridge is expansive

The Distant Idaho Mountain Range Views

The views from this hike were amazing. Starting with creek and cliffs views along the easy hike from the trailhead at Wilson Creek and Reservoir Road to the place I picked to head up to a narrow "flat" east of the creek. Once I got up on the flats, the views gradually expanded to include the Soldier, Smoky, Trinity, Boise, Danskin and Bennett Mountains. Once I peaked out at an elevation of 5,812 feet it was hard not to just sit and stare. Beautiful.

Snow covered House Mountain framed by a burned pine tree
The snow-covered House Mtn is framed by a wildfire burned pine tree.

Being mid-April, the last vestiges of mid-elevations snow added a nice juxtaposition to the "just starting to green-up" landscape. The higher elevations were still showing a deep snowpack and something I haven't seen this late for a quite a number of years.

The Views From The Local Environment

This area was burned rather thoroughly in August 2013 during the massive wildfire called the Elk Fire. From the flats leading up the ridgeline, there is very little vegetation at the current time. I suspect that before the fire, vegetation was sparse also. But it's likely worse 4 1/2 years later especially considering the years of drought we experienced in this part of Idaho during that time.

A majority of the trees on this geologic peninsula ridgeline are dead and the brush and bramble are sparse also. The most abundant vegetation in the immediate area is grass and that explains why there was so much deer and elk droppings along this cross-country hike. I had the company of a herd of mule deer from the time I got on the flats to the time I peaked out.

What I Wanted And What I Did - The Map - All 100% Public Lands Hike

Limited By Fear Of Falling

This hike was a perfect distance, both in mileage and vertical gain/loss for my current fitness level. However, that irrational fear of falling off planet earth persists when I'm on steep terrain. And the wide open and steep upper reaches of the ridgeline gave me the willies. I wouldn't even look downslope during the final attack on the ridgeline. I know ... irrational.

New Balance 703 boot worn during the hike
New Balance 703s boots still making tracks on Idaho

Once I got up near Peak 5812 the trail flattened out quite a bit, However, the mountainsides drop off sharply on both sides of that ridge. Once I spied how steep and foreboding my planned route back to the valley floor was, I decided to head back the way I originally scrambled up the ridgeline. I was still apprehensive of doing that even. In the end, the walk down the ridge felt quite safe. The fear was, again, all in my mind.

The Stats For The Day

  • Trailhead location near Anderson Ranch Reservoir: 43.380888, -115.436823
  • Peak 5812 Coordinates: 43.398324, -115.432376
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,804 feet / 1,947 feet
  • Mileage: 4.82 miles
  • Slope: Avg =  14.8% / Max =  51.7%
  • Feet Wet Creek Crossings: Only one but possibly more if local erosion continues on the Wilson Creek stream bank. Bring water shoes or be prepared to get your boots wet until at least mid-May 2017.
  • Landownership: All lands tread upon during this hike were public lands. 
  • Link To More Photography:

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Originally published on April 22, 2017.


Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka "enemy of the American People!"

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