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August’s Hike of The Month

Deep Lake

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  • Distance: 1.8 miles out-and-back
  • Total elevation gain: 550 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Range: 6,800 feet to 7,350 feet
  • Topographic Map: Victor Peak
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Season: Late June through October
  • Water Availability: Deep Lake
  • Cautionary Advice: Trail travels through extensive burn area. Use caution in windy conditions and be prepared for sun exposure.
  • Information: Payette National Forest, McCall Ranger District (208) 634-0400
  • Restroom: No
  • Coordinates: Trailhead: 45d 10′ 34″ N 115d 56′ 61″ W, Deep Lake: 45d 09′ 96″ N 115d 55′ 91″

This hike is posted by the suggested month to go on from Scott Marchant’s 2016 Idaho Wilderness Calender.  This is just a general guideline however as many of the hikes can be utilized outside of the specific month.

The hike is from Hiking Idaho’s guide book author Scott Marchant and from his book The Hiker’s Guide to McCall & Cascade.

Deep Lake

With minimal effort you get far-reaching views, solitude, a peak-ringed lake and a canyon decorated with granite. It is hard to believe this basket of treasures is achieved with a short one mile hike. Deep Lake rests in a glaciated bowl at an elevation of 7,300 feet. Two unnamed granite peaks, one at 8,618-feet and the other at 8,386-feet, loom over the lake. Although the 1994 fires burned most of the forest, unobstructed views and a plethora of granite peaks make for an otherworldly adventure. This beautiful area is accessed from the end of FR 431 and is certainly off the beaten path. The route to the lake is not an official trail but it is clearly defined most of the way. Rock cairns assist where the path is faint. Children will find the lake entertaining, with many granite boulders along the lake’s perimeter. As an added bonus for August hikers, huckleberries flourish alongside the trail. Those skilled with map reading skills can cross-country hike from Deep Lake and complete a 3.2 mile loop, visiting Trail Lake and Frog Lake. A small patch of forest north of Trail Lake escaped the burn adding to its allure. All three lakes have a couple of shaded campsites.

Trailhead Directions

From downtown McCall, go west on ID 55. At 1.2 miles, reset your odometer to 0 and turn right onto Warren Wagon Road. Go north on Warren Wagon Road 21.2 miles and turn right onto unmarked FR 431. Follow the well-graded dirt road 1.9 miles to its end. The trailhead is marked with a cairn at the eastern end of the parking area. There is parking for five or six vehicles.

The Hike

The trail is marked with cairns most of the way as it traverses over granite slabs and through burned forest. Begin hiking east in the canyon containing the outlet stream from Deep Lake. The trail climbs 200 feet and turns south with sensational views west to Squaw Meadows and the surrounding granite peaks. Soon the 8,292-foot Black Tip Mountain, which astonishingly is the headwaters for eight drainages, is clearly visible in the far distance. Reach the western shore of the lake at 0.9 mile. Here you will find a few parcels of green forest, sheltering a couple of fine campsites. If you are skilled with map reading or with a GPS, you can hike off-trail and complete a 3.2 mile loop back to your vehicle.

To do so, turn right (southwest) near Deep Lake and hike across deadfall and then up a charred ridge. After a climb of 150 feet, descend through dense forest into a small meadow. The lake is not visible due to the forest but is found by walking southeast towards Diamond Ridge. To continue the loop, walk around the north shore of the lake and travel west through burned forest towards Frog Lake. After a quarter mile hike, Frog Lake is seen from a rocky knoll. From here, descend 250 feet on an open hillside to the lake and cross the outlet stream, where you will find a campspot. Continue north, paralleling the outlet stream of Frog Lake, to the edge of the canyon containing Trail Creek. Look across the drainage where your vehicle will be visible near the trailhead.

2014 Project Accomplishments and Summary for the Idaho Trails Association

ITA Logo Small


Idaho Trails Association promotes the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails.

The Idaho Trails Association (ITA) is a non-profit organization.

ITA’s Purpose:

To facilitate the active enjoyment of Idaho’s public lands and hiking trails, the Idaho Trails Association brings together citizens and develops partnerships to foster:

  • Care-taking of Idaho’s hiking trails through stewardship projects, including trail construction and maintenance.
  • Development of traditional trails maintenance skills.
  • Understanding and appreciation, through education of Idaho’s unique trail resources.
  • Preservation, protection and access to Idaho’s hiking trails through outreach and advocacy.

In 2014 Idaho Trails Association completed seven projects on the National Forest and BLM system lands in Idaho.  Our Agency sponsors were the Boise BLM-Bruneau Field Office, Payette, Boise, Sawtooth and Panhandle National Forests.  Four of these projects were within designated Wilderness, and involved both trail work and stewardship activities and three were on high use non-motorized trails.

The projects ranged from five volunteers in more remote and logistically challenging areas to fifty volunteers on the work days that were closer to large population bases.

  • Number of volunteers- 139
  • Volunteer field hours- 1,660
  • Monetary value- $36,520
  • Miles of trail cleared-40.5
  • Miles of trail reconstructed-4
  • Miles of new construction-2
  • Logs cut from trail- 125
  • Water bars cleaned- 350
  • Puncheon constructed- 18 feet
  • Bridge construction- 1 @18 feet
  • Fence Removal- 1.6 miles
  • Human Waste Removal- “Piles”                                                                                            
  • Wilderness Campsite Naturalization-11

 Project Highlights:  

 The Panhandle NF provided the Grouse Mountain Trail project where the ITA crew constructed an eighteen foot long bridge, three hundred feet of newly constructed trail for the bridge approaches, eighteen feet of puncheon and removal of four large boulders from the trail tread. This project was funded through REI and ITA fund raising activities and membership.

The Sawtooth NF, Alice-Toxaway project was a highlight of the season.  Six ITA volunteers spent five days in the Sawtooth Wilderness clearing over thirty miles of trail on one of the most popular loops in the Wilderness.  The ITA crew also worked on cleaning camps and naturalizing overused sites. This week long session was funded through a grant from the Sawtooth Society.









The Boise BLM Bruneau Field Office has been a great partner to work with in the Owyhee Canyonlands and Wilderness areas.  They have provided early and late season opportunities for volunteers to get out and help. We have removed wire fence, decommissioned roads and built new trail along with reconstructing existing trails in amazing country is always a big draw for volunteers.  Roberson Trail in the Owyhee Wilderness has become an annual event on National Trails Day for ITA.  This project brings in large numbers of volunteers who work at multiple projects to help with the stewardship of this area.  This Owyhee project was been funded through grants from REI.

Roberson trail2Roberson trail

 Roberson Trail Owyhee Wilderness          Photos courtesy of Bryan Dufosse                     


 The Hum Lake Trail on the Payette NF was the inaugural ITA project in 2010.  We continued to work on this trail as an overnight project working to help reopen the North Fork of Lick Creek trail.  We have added day work parties to this trail as it has become a very popular volunteer opportunity.  This project is funded by REI and the USFS and volunteer pack support from BD Recreation Consultants.

Hum lake sumitDuck lake









The National Public Lands Day brought out over 50 volunteers to do stewardship work in and outside the Owyhee Wilderness.  During this project in the Owyhee Canyonlands the skills of future trail bosses were discovered.  This young man was part of a “Toddler Brigade” who helped remove baseball sized rocks from the trail tread.  He and 6 other youth were supervised by two parents who instructed the brigade in how to remove rocks without hurting or throwing them at anyone.  The brigade was a success!  It was hard to get past the group at the end of the day as everyone had to hear and see what a great job they did, and they did do a great job!

Future trail boss

Future Trail Boss

The Future:                                                                                                                 

The classic one day work party:  As ITA grows we are getting more requests from the agencies for single day work parties to work on trails close to population hubs.  These work parties have been funded by REI and the land management agencies, however future funding opportunities need to be pursued.

 Large volunteer projects provide challenges because of the need to ensure ITA has enough qualified crew leads to manage the volunteers are available.  Recruiting other passionate crew leaders will be important for future expansion and success.

ITA prides itself in teaching safety and completing the best quality trail work while also working towards creating supporters and stewards of our public lands. We may not knock out a project as fast as a contractor or force account crew, but the quality should be the same, and the potential of creating lifelong supporters of public lands is great.  This goal is important for future partner relationships.


Our Message:

ITA is a hiking, trail advocacy and stewardship group. We formed to provide the voice for hikers throughout the state.  Our role is to get work done and to develop strong stewards of the land who are informed and educated enough to provide support to land management agencies and continuing this goal is important.

ITA is proud to teach and promote traditional skills while accomplishing trail work.  We feel it is a needed and necessary way to safely engage the public into volunteer stewardship to help our public lands.  ITA promotes these traditional skills to provide the training and understanding that work can be accomplished safely and efficiently in this manner.

ITA has a goal to safely engage the public in stewardship activities, by doing this we hope to build a more accepting and supportive public who will enjoy recreating and participating in the future of our public lands.

 Our Thanks:

 To REI, Sawtooth Society, Agency Partners, volunteers, members, contributors, Board of Directors and Advisory Board for their time, energy, leadership and monetary contributions.


Hike of the Month

The Idaho Trails Association would like to introduce a new monthly update on hiking and snowshoeing trails around Idaho. We’re grateful to be able to utilize materials from Hiking Idaho and other resources. Scott Marchant envisioned a mission for Hiking Idaho to publish guidebooks that make available accurate and inspiring backcountry information. Visit to learn more.

Hikes and snowshoes will be posted by the suggested month. This is just a general guideline however as many of the hikes can be utilized outside of the specific month.

January’s Hike of The Month

This hike is a popular destination in Boise and from Scott Marchant’s book The Hiker’s Guide to Greater Boise.

Table Rock Loop

  • Distance: 4.1 miles loop
  • Total Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Range: 2,750 feet to 3,650 feet
  • Topographic Map: Boise South
  • Time: 1 hour to 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Season: All Year
  • Water Availability: None
  • Cautionary Advice: During winter, avoid the area when temperatures are above freezing as the trails contain a significant amount of clay and are easily damaged. Be aware of thunderstorm activity while on the Table Rock mesa.
  • Information:
  • Restroom: No

Table Rock Loop

One of the first things you notice when looking from downtown Boise to the top of Table Rock: this flat-topped mesa is close – less than three miles. Other than Camelback Mountain in Phoenix or Twin Peaks in San Francisco, there may not be a better urban hiking experience so close to a major city. Mind you, the 3,652-mesa is no Mt. Borah, but this unique piece of geography delivers the goods when it comes to views.

From the top of Table Rock, vistas extend south and southwest on clear days beyond the plains of the Treasure Valley to the Owyhee Mountains, nearly fifty miles away. Looking north, the forested ridgeline of the Boise Mountains seems close enough to touch. Of course, the mesa’s proximity to Boise keeps the area busy, especially on the weekends. The majority of users approach the peak from the Old Penitentiary trailhead. Use the Warms Springs Golf Course trailhead to escape the crowds and experience a more scenic hike.

By combining several non-motorized trails, you can create a diverse loop. There a few steep sections but they only last a quarter mile or so. The route weaves between lichen-covered boulders, transitions through sagebrush, circles around Table Rock and descends and open hillside covered with hundreds of boulders. Try to plan on being at the top of Table Rock at sunset; you will be in for a special treat as the sun sets on the horizon.

Trailhead Directions

From the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Broadway Avenue, drive east of Warm Springs Road 2.1 miles to the Warm Springs Golf Course. Turn right and park in the large parking area. The trailhead is on the north side of Warm Springs Road.

The Hike

Cross Warm Springs Road and gain elevation as the trail veers northeast. The trail passes through a scenic quarter-mile segment with many boulders covered in lichen with shades of gold, black, grey, green and silver. Interestingly, lichens are not plants, but compound organisms: a symbiosis of fungus living with a colony of algae or cyanobacteria – sometimes both. It is estimated that more than 3,600 species of lichen exist in the United States and Canada and approximately 17,000 are found worldwide.

At 0.5 mile, you reach two junctions, one signed, one not. Continue straight through both, traveling north up a broad gulch towards Table Rock. Arrive a signed junction at 0.9 mile at the base of Table Rock. Continue on the Tram Trail, a fitting name as the steep route gains 400 feet to a junction at 1.2 miles with the Table Rock Quarry Trail. Continue straight on the east side of the mountain (look to your left for a couple of footpaths that ascend to an overlook of the Table Rock Quarry) and then veer left on the backside of the mountain. Reach the parking area near the top of the mesa at 1.7 miles.

Cross the parking area, continue west on the dirt road and arrive at the edge of Table Rock, perched at 1,000 feet over the downtown skyline of Boise. After enjoying the remarkable vistas, continue along the southwest rim of the flat plateau and make a steep descent on the Table Rock Trail. As you descend, you will pass several placards with informative information on the geological history of the area. At the bottom of the descent, reach a signed junction. Continue straight to the next signed junction with the Table Rock Loop Trail.

Turn left, heading east through sagebrush. Follow the trail through the first junction and turn right at the next junction with the Table Rock Loop. Within a few yards, turn left and begin a descent on the Rock Island Trail. The singletrack trail quickly comes to a grouping of rocks with great views west and south. From here, the trail switchbacks back down to the Tram Trail. Turn right and hike back a half mile to the trailhead.

There will be many intersecting trails both unsigned and signed that can be confusing. The Ridge to Rivers trail map does not list all of these intersections as most of the side trails are unauthorized. However, it is difficult to get lost as the open terrain and looming Table Rock always gives you a reference point.

Visit or our literature section from the Hiking tab above to learn more.

Interview with Scott Marchant

The Idaho Trails Association sat down with hiking guidebook author Scott Marchant to discuss his experiences hiking in Idaho and his newest book, The Hiker’s Guide Greater Boise.

We know that you came from Florida, how did you get into hiking and end up in Idaho?

Iwent to college in Reno. But I grew up in Florida, and it’s pretty flat. I think the highest point is below 500’ above sea level. I went to Reno and I saw the Sierras and I’d never seen anything like it. From there I moved to Colorado and California for several years. You know, I had a family and we needed to go somewhere slower, leave the big city. I knew I wanted to stay West of Denver. We looked at the state map of Idaho and I saw all the national forests and that was a selling point. It really had a lot to do with the national forests as being such a high percentage of the state.

Which area in Idaho first caught your attention?

It was Boise. I think Hell’s Canyon was probably the first wilderness area. I hadn’t seen the Sawtooths until after I moved here actually. We lived in Boise first and then moved to Stanley so our kids could live in an unusual situation. There is a school downtown that is k-8 and we had three of the twelve kids there. In the Winter, the teacher would xc ski to class. You get a pretty unique grouping of people that live in that area.

Was it a particular hike or life event that encouraged you to switch from hiker extraordinaire to a guidebook author?

Well I’d always hiked. When we moved to Stanley I wasn’t working at the time and I was helping raise the kids. I figured, you know, there hasn’t been a new guide book written for this area in a long time and then I decided to do it. It probably took me two years to do it the first time. I didn’t know anything about how to theme the first book and I didn’t have the process down. I originally called Falcon Guide and they said there wasn’t a big enough market in Stanley, so I figured I better figure out a way to self-publish this. Then I controlled everything. I liked the creative aspect of it, I could put in quotes and whatnot.

Many of our members are already seasoned hikers. Are there any areas you would recommend to our members?

I know most of the trails in central Idaho. I tend to stay off motorized trails. A lot of times I find trails just by driving down a dirt road. I remember one time going into a store at the intersection by Black Creek Road as I was researching hikes. The fire crew was in there and they were all black from being out fighting fire all day. And I asked one of the workers about some hikes in the area and the guy said, “this guy lives just two miles down the road here” and he told me there were only two hikes you really want to know in this area. And that’s how I found them. One is Lava Mountain and the other is Corral Creek. I hadn’t seen them anywhere. No one had ever published them and they’re great hikes. In fact, Lava Mountain is one of the top ten wildflower hikes. Those hikes I’m not sure a lot of people would be familiar with. I would say in each book there are many hikes that a lot of people wouldn’t be familiar with. And some I’ve found just driving down a road. It may not be marked but there is a user sign. And so sometimes I’ve hiked down one and realize that I don’t want to continue. Other times you go and wow, they are incredible.

Well you didn’t just look at someone’s book and update it and check it off, you really explored.

I call out to people and ask them to recommend trails.

 Do you tell us if they are motorized or not?

I tell people in the book if you are likely to see a motorized user. There are other trails that you can take motorcycles on and you don’t see any. But you know, the motorized tend to go to certain places.

You’ve already self-published your previous three books. Are there any big changes from the previous ones?

I would say the biggest change is that I’ve added dispersed camping. You know, in a lot of these places if you go out outside of Idaho City there aren’t a lot of hotels. If you are an hour from Idaho City, a lot of people want to car camp. So I mention great spots that might not be a campground, but they are near a trailhead or even eight trailheads. A lot of times people want to go out for the weekend and they may not want to backpack but they want to have that outdoors experience. I also have a section on hiking with children. I talk a little bit about nature deficit disorder and how to engage kids in the wilderness and really it comes down to involving them when they’re young. No forced marches, let them bring a camera and take pictures.

So what is the process when you are doing the research for the trails? Do you wear a GPS and track coordinates?

Yeah, I have a GPS, pen, paper, camera. I probably take 75-100 pictures per hike so I can remember what I see when I write the description. I can describe the meadow like the picture shows me. I’m really into wildflowers so with each hike I will mention which one you are going to see. And working with the forest service too. So I have a big stack of papers with all of these notes on trails. They are pretty pre-historic looking.

For this new book, any cool experiences with wildlife encounters or gear mishaps that occurred during the research?

I’ve run into some interesting people in the backcountry. But I haven’t really had anything beyond bears popping out on the trail. But I’ve met really interesting people. I’ve met several trappers. People that have a very unique life and so it’s interesting to talk to them. One time outside of Smith’s Ferry I ran into a guy that was trapping everything. I mean, he was showing me all of his traps and boiling them. He had ones for bobcats and wolves and invited me back to his camp to have a beer and so I did. Of course, we’re like in two separate worlds. It was just really interesting to talk to him since he saw the world so much differently than I did. When I was researching the McCall book I ended up car camping and slept in the woods instead of renting a house.

One day I was set up and I was going to go to Crystal Lake the next day and some guy came up to me thinking I was someone else that he knew. I told him I was going to head out to Crystal Lake the next day and I asked this guy what he knew about it. I know it is mentioned in Margaret’s book, but I was unsure of the information since it had been several years. He told me that there is a trail to this point and then it’s all rock cairns. And then I said, ”can you follow the rock cairns in and figure out how to get there?” but then he said, “sure, but I knock those damn things over every time I see them. I don’t want anyone to know where that lake is.” And I thought, I’m not going to tell him I’m writing a guidebook so I didn’t say anything to him. It is in the book.

So you’ve done a lot of hiking in Nevada, California, and Colorado. How would you compare the trails in Idaho to the ones in other states?

I would say the biggest thing that I notice is the rawness of the trails which I like. They don’t seem to be as maintained. Well, some of them are, but in general, if you were to generalize the trails in California and Colorado for instance, they might be better signed and in better condition. A lot of the trails don’t allow motorized use so some of our trails that get a lot of motorized use can get ruts and then if they’re not maintained, when there’s drainage it makes them worse and then you have to hike around it and that makes the trail wider. A lot of it isn’t signed. That is probably one of the biggest differences. But I like that in a way because then I have to figure out where I am. There is that element of being an explorer.

So tell us a bit about what we can do together to make the trails better in Idaho.

What I can do is give you more information about trails, especially trail conditions. And maybe more people would use them if they were in better shape. Another thing is with signs. I think for a lot of people they see a trail and if there isn’t a sign they may not want to go on it. If there is a sign, people are less afraid. It’s a matter of perception.

Yeah, people think “this is legit, we’re safe.”

And one thing I wanted to do with this book is help people see that we have great access to hiking trails here in Idaho. I’m not sure if most people know this, but it is actually the fourth largest national forest in the continental U.S. It’s the sixth largest national forest in the United States including Alaska. That’s something I wanted people to know, is that out your front door is the 4 th largest national forest, so here!

For more information on Scott and where you can buy his books, check out his website, or you can find his table on Saturdays at the Capital City Public Market in Boise.

Thank you Scott.