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Volunteer Spotlight: Thom Klein

Thomkleinphoto2The Idaho Centennial Trail takes hikers 900 miles through some of Idaho’s most beautiful places. With the current rise in popularity of long distance hiking, it is high time that the ICT gets the recognition it deserves as one of America’s most rugged and remote hikes. But an increase in hikers means an increased need for stewardship, education, and awareness.

The Idaho Trails Association has teamed up with local partners to help improve trail conditions for future hikers. Coordinating with our long time backcountry allies, the Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, and Forest Service trail crews, over 50 miles of the ICT were cleared in 2016. Stewards of the trail cut hundreds of logs, cleared water bars and improved drainage, addressed some hiker hazards, and opened up trails that have been choked up for decades.

It is with great pride that we return to areas of Idaho that have long since been overlooked, and where we are at risk of losing access to our wild places. We hope the growth of the Idaho Centennial Trail will create more interest and investment in our public lands, and lead the way for Idaho’s next generation of outdoor adventurers.

Thom Klein is an ITA volunteer from Eastern Idaho who has made it his goal to hike the entire length of the ICT in sections. He has helped us coordinate presentations at Idaho State University, so we were happy to help him with a ride out of the Frank Church as he bagged his last miles of the season. Congratulations Thom on a spectacular season of hiking and thank you for your contributions to the Idaho Trails Association.


Volunteer Spotlight: Thom Klein, Pocatello


This past summer, I took a notion to hike at least part of the Idaho Centennial Trail—the gorgeous but neglected south-to-north route through Idaho’s wildlands. Yet I have to admit to being a bit of a wuss: the idea of solo-hiking (and especially solo-sleeping) is not something I relish. So I persuaded various friends to come along for 3-4 day sections, beginning with the Owyhee Desert and working northwards into the Sawtooths and the central mountains. (See the article by Mike Stubbs in Idaho MagazineThomkleinphoto1 for a description of one of those hikes.)

However, I was having trouble getting companions for the section into the Frank Church Wilderness, until Clay Jacobson, from the Idaho Trails Association, suggested that I hike in along the Middle Fork to meet a trail crew sponsored by the ITA and SBFCF, which was going to be working its way down Marble Creek, a notoriously difficult and overgrown portion of the ICT. I could meet up with the trail crew—however far they had gotten—and hitch a ride out.

I enjoyed my walk first along Marsh Creek and then the Middle Fork, and had plenty of rafters at least for visual company. After two days, I found myself at the outlet of Marble Creek, and managed to score a large serving of steak fajitas from the party of boaters camped there.

The next day, Marble Creek trail started out fairly clear. Occasionally, trail and creek would squeeze into a narrow gully, and then I had to push through undergrowth as I sang loudly to scare off any large animals. After the old Mitchell homestead, though, I began to see how Marble had gotten its reputation: with lots of deadfall and thick regrowth at creek crossings, it was easy to lose the trail. Thomkleinphoto3At one point, I found myself waste-deep in a beaver pond; at another, I had to cross a steep, unstable slide area with a 200-foot drop to the creek bottom.

At last, late in the afternoon, I began to see signs of recent trail work and then came upon an immense log-jam which was obviously in the process of being cleared, with tools and helmets laid on one side. The contrast in the quality of the trail was like night and day, and I hurried ahead. I kept rounding corners and expecting to find the crew’s encampment (it was another four miles), but at last I spotted the tethered mules and shed a few grateful tears as I pulled in, just in time for a hot supper—and cold beer, of course.

This trip was the highpoint of my hiking this summer, and I am immensely grateful for the ITA’s work in the backcountry, keeping these beautiful places accessible for those who don’t mind enduring some blisters—and maybe a brief meeting with a black bear.


We invite you to join us in 2017 as we continue to make a positive impact in the Idaho backcountry. New trail work projects will be announced in the spring, but you can get involved right now by becoming an ITA member at whatever level is right for you. We appreciate all our members and could not do our important work without you. Thank you!

Join Idaho Trails Association During Our 7th Annual Membership Drive

Become a Steward of Idaho’s Trails

Join ITA During Our 7th Annual Membership Drive

Dear Idaho Backcountry and Wilderness Trail Lovers:

Idaho’s network of backcountry trails leads hikers to and through some of our state’s most beautiful, hidden places. As one of the state’s fastest growing volunteer-driven organizations dedicated to clearing backcountry trails, Idaho Trails Association needs YOU to help us restore and maintain this invaluable legacy. That’s why, from November 15th to December 31st, we’re kicking off our 7th annual membership drive to get more people like you—and your friends and families—involved in preserving our state’s vast trail system.

In the coming year, our goal is to increase trail work projects by 40 percent. This means that, not only will we be returning to some of Idaho’s most popular hiking destinations, but we will be expanding our reach into new areas as well. In 2017, our weekend and weeklong ‘work vacations’ will include the Seven Devils and Gospel Hump Wilderness Areas–some of Idaho’s most rugged and pristine outdoor playgrounds. Wherever we work, ITA’s mission is to promote the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails thru:

  • Stewardship projects on Idaho’s great hiking trails, including trail construction and maintenance
  • Development of traditional trails maintenance skills using hand tools
  • Education, understanding, and appreciation of Idaho’s unique trail resources
  • Preservation, protection and access to Idaho’s hiking trails through outreach and advocacy

The Idaho Trails Association started in 2010. In our first year, we conducted two trail maintenance projects with volunteers contributing about 200 hours of their time working on the trails.  Fast forward to 2016, and 200 volunteers contributed almost 4,000 hours to complete 17 projects, including five weeklong ‘work vacations.’ These projects are rich with Idaho heritage, featuring mule trains, traditional tools, and backcountry cooking. From 2015 to 2016 alone, the value of ITA’s volunteer labor to land managers climbed from $48,000 to over $128,000!

Whether you want to get out on the trails or provide material support, we ask you to join, renew your membership, give a membership to someone you know cares about the backcountry—or give us a donation! Just go to for more information. No matter where you live in Idaho—or in the U.S. for that matter—you can do your part to help preserve our wild lands.

Thanks very much,
Jeff Halligan, ITA Executive Director


August’s Hike of The Month

Deep Lake

Photo courtesy of:

  • 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.

Hum Lake trail work party debrief

On July 2nd, 2016 ten volunteers donated 80 hours of volunteer time to clear the Hum Lake trail on the Krassel Ranger District of the Payette National Forest. We were met with clear blue skies, temperatures in the 60s and an empty Trailhead.  We started off with introductions and a safety meeting to discuss the day’s events and proper and safe tool use. We ended up taking 2 crosscuts as we had 4 certified sawyers, pulaskis, shovels, loppers and the infamous Peavey.  Hum lake 4

We split into 3 teams, 2 saw teams and the waterbar/brushers that did an amazing job of working on the drainage and cutting those bushes back.  Overall we cleaned 47 waterbars, brushed 600 feet and cut 22 trees from the trail.  We were able to have our ceremonial snowball toss at the Hum Lake pass, there is still a nice cornice slowly melting away.  It was a great day that ended with light rain, cookies and drinks back at the trailhead.  Thanks to the awesome crew that came out for this work party!

Hum lake 1Hum lake 2     Hum lake 3

2016 Cleanup of the Beehive Lakes Trail #279.

On June 25, volunteers with the Idaho Trails Association (ITA) completed maintenance work on the Beehive Lakes Trail in the Sandpoint District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Fourteen ITA members and friends brushed out 4 ½ miles of trail, re-built or re-opened 43 water diversion ditches, and cut out 5 fallen trees that had blocked the trail.Beehive 2016 - 1

One of the trees we removed measured 36” to 39” in diameter, the largest ITA has done in our 6 year history of helping to keep Idaho’s hiking trails open for the public. In all, our volunteers spent about 130 person hours doing this work. The popular Beehive Lake trail is 4 ½ miles long and gains about 2,000’ of elevation before it ends at a beautiful alpine lake that sits just below the Selkirk Mountain crest.










Beehive 2016-3

Mattingly Creek Trail Work Vacation (Full)

Mattingly Creek Weeklong in the Sawtooth Wilderness!!

Project Description

Sunday, July 24th – Saturday, July 30th.

Maximum number of volunteers 5

This is a strenuous week long work party that will be backpacking from the Alturas Lake Trailhead to the city of Atlanta!  This work party will carry all of their food, gear and tools along the Mattingly Creek trail #034 and maintain the trail along the way.  Primitive camping, wilderness, scenery, and good work will be the highlights of this trip!  There is only room for 5 volunteers so sign up early for this special trip! 

The work party will meet Sunday evening at Alturas Lake to camp before leaving Monday morning for Mattingly Creek trail.  Hiking while clearing and improving the trail will give you a chance to seek out remote campsites and get a real Wilderness experience.  Shuttle back to Alturas Lake from Atlanta will be Saturday morning July 30th.

This trip is generously sponsored by The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance!

Please review our Volunteer Manual. If you have any questions please email them to

Sign Up

This Trail Work Vacation is full, to be put on a wait list please email  Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us & we  hope you will sign up for one of our other great projects! 

Alice-Toxaway Trail Work Vacation (Full, wait List available)

  • Where: Sawtooth National Recreation Area
  • When: Sunday-Saturday, July 17th-23rd.
  • Elevation: 7,000′-9,280′ range
  • Location: Tin Cup Trailhead
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Accepting: 8 volunteers

Project Description

Alice-Toxaway July, 17th-23rd

Spend seven days in the beautiful Sawtooth Wilderness working on the Alice-Toxaway trail nestled amongst the 10,000 foot peaks of the Sawtooth Range.  Your gear will be packed into a base camp by Mule train.  We will meet at the Tin Cup Trailhead at Pettit Lake on Sunday July 17th to hike into camp at Toxaway Lake.  We will hike in on Sunday July 17 to our base camp at Toxaway Lake.  Monday we will start working on the trails around Toxaway Lake and to the trailhead at Tin Cup.  We will teach you how to clean waterbars, how to cut logs from the trail with Crosscut saws, cut brush back and how to rebuild trail tread. We will also be working on removing rocks and repairing rocky sections of the trail and creek crossings.  Meals will be provided and cooked by ITA Chefs. 

Maximum number of volunteers 8.

This is one of the most scenic trail projects in the nation, sign up early as only eight spaces are available!

Please review our Volunteer Manual. If you have any questions please email them to

Sign Up

Please fill out the form below if you are interested in participating on this project.

Because this is a week long supported project, ITA requires a $50 per person refundable deposit to secure your spot. This will help us ensure that everyone who registers is well-intentioned and we will not have to bear the costs of last-minute cancellations. By submitting this registration, you agree to donate the deposit if you cancel with less than 2 weeks notice.

After completing the sign-up information on this page,  you will be redirected to a secure site to make your deposit with PayPal or Credit Card. An ITA representative will get back to you with more information.

This Trail Work Vacation is full, to be put on a wait list please email

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us & we  hope you will sign up for one of our other great projects! 

Ants Basin Trail Work Vacation (Full)

Project Descriptionidahomagic-61

Ants Basin, August 7th-13th

Ants Basin.  Seven days in the White Clouds Wilderness! We will hike into the base camp in the upper meadows of Warm Springs Creek on Sunday August 7th.  This project is focusing on the trails in Ants Basin/Born Lakes and Warm Springs Creek.  We will be camping at the upper meadows in Warm Springs Creek and doing day hikes to improve the trails in the area.  Meals are provided and cooked by ITA volunteer chefs.  This project is currently full.

If you have questions please contact

This Trail Work Vacation is full.  Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us & we  hope you will sign up for one of our other great projects!

Photos Courtesy of Peter Lovera.


Hum Lake Trail Work Party – July 2nd (Full, wait list available)

Projects details:

July 2nd, 2016 Hum Lake Trail, Payette National Forest, McCall, Idaho

Work details: Join us for a day high in mountains above McCall clearing the trail between Duck and Hum Lakes.  We will meet at the Duck Lake Trailhead at Lick Creek Summit at 9am Saturday, July 2nd.  We will hike up to Hum Lake junction and start clearing the trail to Hum Lake with crosscut saws.  Our goal is to make it the 2 miles over the pass and down to Hum Lake.  This is a strenuous hike at high elevation, but well worth the effort!  Snacks and drinks will be provided at the end of the work day, but be sure to bring a daypack, jacket, gloves and your lunch and water!

Let’s have fun and be safe.  This project is difficult physically as we will be at higher elevation and climbing over a high pass in the time we will be working (9am-3pm) and the hiking distance (6 miles round trip) involved.

Volunteers needed: 10 volunteers. If your plans change and you cannot make it. Please notify us & attempt to fill the project with another volunteer.

When/Where: We will meet at the Duck Lake Trailhead at Lick Creek Summit at 9am.  We will have our safety meeting, sign in and then head up the trail.  We should be back to the trailhead by 4pm.

 What to bring: All volunteers should bring their own small pack with lunch, snacks, sunscreen, and water.  Volunteers should have hiking boots, leather work gloves, and eye protection (sunglasses or safety glasses).  ITA will provide the crosscut saws for the project.

This Trail Work Vacation is full, to be put on a wait list please email  Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us & we  hope you will sign up for one of our other great projects!


English Point Trail Work Party

Project: Idaho Trails Association spring cleanup project on English Point trail near Hayden Lake.

Date and time: Friday, April 29th starting at 8:00 am, ending by 4:00 pm.

Where: We will meet at 8:00 am at the trailhead on English Point Road just off of East Lancaster Road. Volunteers can show up any time during the day.

Description: The Idaho Trails Association is looking for volunteers to help do maintenance work on Friday, April, 29th on the English Point Trail #80 in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest . We will be cleaning out water bars, cutting back brush, cleaning mud off bridges, and doing other “spring cleaning” chores.

The English Point trail system includes easy loops thru forest terrain on the west side of Hayden Lake. The Idaho Trails Association will be doing the maintenance work to help make this popular trail more enjoyable for the hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders who come here.

Volunteers will use hand tools provided by the Association to do light work. Everyone should bring work gloves, sturdy shoes, lunch, and water.We will meet at 8:00 am at the trailhead on English Point Road about 3.7 miles east of US 95 on East Lancaster Road.

Please sign up here: