Friday, May 12, 2017

Wilson Flats Ridgeline Hike in Boise National Forest

Last edited on May 14, 2017

This May 3, 2017, hike up a ridgeline above Wilson Flats on the north side of Anderson Ranch Reservoir was very enjoyable. The beauty, solitude, and geology made this area located about 40 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho a great place for a microadventure. My unrealistic but original goal was Peak 6355 that is just 2.5 miles south of the 7,700 tall House Mountain. I didn't make it that far. But I did make it to Peak 5675.

From an elevation of 5,396, or about 1,500 feet above the valley floor, the views to the north were spectacular.

My Wilson Flats Area History

I have a longish history with Wilson Flats. I first visited the area back in 2008, looking for a creek to fish. There were fish in the creek then, but things have changed. In 2013 the "Elk Complex" wildfire burned through the area and a flash flood later scoured Wilson Creek valley pretty much clean.

I ATV'd up to the flats a number of times before that fire and flash flood. In 2013, the trail from Anderson Dam Road up to the flats was officially closed to all activities and just in the last couple years, hikers were allowed back in. The trail is still closed to bikes and motorized vehicles. So hiking and horses are the only options. I hope it stays that way.

I've hiked up to the "flats" a number of times since 2014. But this hike was a little different. It was more about the climb and exploring off-trail.

This is the trails that heads up to Wilson Flats. Steep and the views over the side are incredible.

The Hike

In retrospect, I suppose there was an easier way to step foot on Peak 5675. That easier way would have been to stay on trail and head up the Little Wilson Creek drainage. But then I would have missed some pretty cool scenery and the exploration part of the hike. So instead, as I approach Wilson Flats, I veered into the steep and rugged untracked terrain and slogged my way up the ridgeline I would follow for the next few hours.

The ridgeline hike gave me outstanding views into both the Wilson Creek and Little Wison Creek valleys. Something that I have been missing (or not) since the spring hiking season kicked-off was the opportunity to hike in, over and through sagebrush and mountain bramble. There were a few places on the ridgeline that were near impenetrable. In a few years, this hike will be different when the brush and bramble grow up. The fires of 2013 knocked it down a lot.

I cannot resist creating a snow graffiti when I get the chance on a hike. 

The hike along the ridgeline got easier and easier as I climbed toward a peak I knew I'd never step foot on. But damn, it sure was pretty. I did encounter my first snowbank of the hike right near my turn-around point at Peak 5675.

I had some thoughts of taking an alternate route back to the trailhead. I didn't relish the thoughts of descending down an old road cut surrounded by still-standing yet quite dead and burned pine tree carcasses, especially as the winds started kicking up. They don't call it "deadfall" because it will keep you safe.

As of May 2017, to hike up to Wilson Flats, you will have two "boots-wet" stream crossing of Wilson Creek. I brought my sandals for those two crossings. I wanted to preserve my old New Balance 703 hiking boots as they have transitioned into a mountain biking boot. Plus I hate hiking with wet feet and at the time, there wasn't much hope they'd stay dry trying to hopscotch the creek.

I broke open one of these rocks but found only brownish/gray material from outside to inside. You may have better luck.

Rock Hounding Potential

I've hounded this area pretty thoroughly in the past. Damn, there is a lot of potential for smoky quartz and even thundereggs/geodes. But again, the rocks I found were just below the "really cool" level. I've found a few places in the area that contained rocks like those shown in the above photo. There has never been anything collectable about them.

The Hiking Map

Here is my GPX track of the hike ...

The Hike Stats

  • Total Miles: 4.91
  • Elevations: Min. = 4,227 / Avg. = 4,941 / Max. = 5,675
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: +1,889/-1,866 feet
  • Slope: Avg. = 12.9% / Max. = 45.6%
  • Time on trail: 4:10 hours
  • Trailhead coordinates: 43.380962, -115.436869
  • Peak 5,675 coordinates: 43.394407, 115.459301
  • Topo Map: House Mountain, Idaho
  • Land Ownership: Hike was done 100% on public lands!
  • Link to more photos:
  • Geology of hike: Intrusive rocks: mostly Late Cretaceous granodioritic to granitic plutons of the Idaho batholithic assemblage, but including some Eocene intrusions; northern Idaho and Atlanta batholith.
  • On-road Distance from Downtown Boise/Twin Falls: 70 miles / 110 miles

Originally published on May 12, 2017.


Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

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

P.S. The city of Mountain Home, Idaho is a town in decline. My opinion would be to avoid the town completely.

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