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Marble Creek Trail Project – Reopening a Dissapearing Trail

ITA partnered with the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation to knock out the Marble Creek Trail Project.   Six volunteers worked through 100-degree heat until 6 or 7 at night.   With the leadership of Leo Hennesey, they built and reconstructed crib walls, cut out 190 trees, cleaned 6 waterbars, and dismantled 3 fire rings.  A total of 6 miles of trail were reconstructed and maintained.

The trail segment tackled by this volunteer crew includes a segment of the Idaho Centennial Trail, which is a north-south route, spanning the State of Idaho from Nevada to the Canadian Border.  This critical segment of the trail was beginning to disappear from the lack of maintenance.  In fact, this was the first time in 25 years that this segment of trail has been fully maintained.  Thanks to this volunteer crew, this critical segment of the Idaho Centennial Trail is now in good shape and ready for eager hikers.

Gant Ridge Trail Project – Back From the Bighorn Crags

Hitch 6 was a partnership between the Idaho Trails Association and the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation. Three SCA interns were enthusiastic to work on the Gant Ridge trail in the Bighorn Crags.  We camped at Cathedral Lake, an oligotrophic body of water created from the last glacial recession. It was lovely. We fell asleep to a trickling melody played by the small creek near camp each night and awoke to sunlight filtering through Englemann spruce every morning.

After oatmeal and coffee, we hiked out to the worksite and tool cache, stretched, and began working. The trail certainly needed our help. In some areas, the trail was indiscernible from the rest of the forest.  In others, switchbacks had completely washed out. In eight days of leonine effort, we were able to repair 1,630 feet of tread, realign 115 feet, create 9 drainage structures, clean 2 water bars, and place 6 stepping stones. Safe to say the trip was a success, but much more work is needed on the Gant Ridge Trail.

Written by an SCA Intern

Wewukiye Construction, Round Two

“You are part of a legacy,” said Mark Bingman to the group of volunteers as we gathered for the Wewukiye (Wa-woo-kia) Trail Project.  Mark is the North Zone Recreation Manager for the Boise National Forest, where there are few non-motorized trails. The Cascade Ranger District is leading the charge to construct a new 16-mile hiking and mountain biking trail that will connect Warm Lake, Stolle Meadows, Vulcan Hot Springs and other landmarks.

The naming of the trail was part of a community process.  The name was selected during a “name-the-trail” contest that was held for the local 4th grade students. Kyle Sellers chose the name ‘Wewukiye,” meaning elk in the Nez Perce tribal language.

This is the second year that the Idaho Trails Association has organized volunteers to help construct the new trail. Last year ITA volunteers helped build two miles of new trail.  This year our volunteers helped construct another 1.25 miles.  Five volunteers contributed a combined 85 hours of service to the project. Volunteers bonded through trail work, lounged in local hot springs, enjoyed peaceful afternoons and took in the views at North Shore Lodge on Warm Lake.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work.  We would also like to thank the Boise National Forest for their leadership and the Boise REI store for their financial support of the project.

Hum Lake Trail Work Debrief

Four eager volunteers turned out to perform maintenance work on the Hum Lake Trail from August 17th through 19th on the Payette National Forest.  The Hum Lake Trail is a very popular backpacking trail outside of McCall, which ascends over a small pass from Duck Lake.

The group headed out with two crosscut saws, two Pulaskis, a hand saw and a Peavey.  Before getting down to business, a safety training was given to the volunteers, which included practicing how to safely cut two logs with a crosscut saw.  After the safety training, the volunteers cut out 35 trees blocking the trail.  The volunteers used their tools with skill to clear the way for trail users.

Volunteers also had the opportunity to learn how to use other trail maintenance tools.  For example, they learned to use the Peavey, which is a tool that works like a lever to push, roll or slide a fallen tree away from the trail.  This tool was extremely helpful when the group worked together to remove a 30-inch diameter tree.  The large tree had fallen across a switchback, and two long sections had to be moved.

All-in-all, the group cleared about four miles of trail. Many trees had to be cut 2-3 times in order to be completely cleared from the trail. In just two and a half days, the volunteers collectively contributed 40 hours of trail maintenance! On Sunday, after finishing the last 9 trees, they hiked to a summit that provides a beautiful overlook above Hum Lake

Nice work!



West Fork Camas Creek Project – Finish Strong!

Several volunteers and groups came together to make the West Fork Camas Creek Project a great success. The Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation financially supported this venture, allowing the Backcountry Horsemen to pack in horses and food for our trip. The Student Conservation Association joined in to see that we met our trail maintenance goals and objectives.

Magdaline, one of the SCA interns learned several positive lessons while working in the wilderness. As she proclaimed, “The first lesson is that backpacking with tools is really hard. The second lesson is that the Backcountry Horsemen sure know how to cook. The last lesson is that if you are going to be doing stream crossings during work you should definitely have a spare pair of shoes.”

Trail work may be hard, but Magdaline reminded us that trail work is very rewarding work. “Despite sore feet and being more tired that I have ever been in my entire life, this was probably my favorite hitch so far. We got to see some amazing parts of the Frank Church.”

During their 8 days in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, volunteers cleared 9 miles of trail, reconstructed 1 mile of trail, and cut out 21 trees. Thank you to all of our partners, SBFC, SCA, and BCH for helping to make this project a great time and a wonderful success.




Pistol Creek Trail Project – Rock Stars

July 7th-14th was one of the hottest weeks of the summer. Despite the sweltering heatr, several volunteers gathered to help maintain the Pistol Creek Trail in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. They arrived and started setting up their camp. Their meals were prepared by the Backcountry Horsemen. With the objective to clear brush, deadfall, and repair tread, they did just that.

Working eight-hour days, they contributed a combined 208 hours of volunteer service. Volunteers maintained 11 miles of trail and cleared an astonishing 129 logs and trees from the trail!

With all that hard work, what else could they have possibly done? Well, this group was a bunch of rock stars.  They also spent time cleaning 20 waterbars and installed 7 new ones.  But that is not all! They also constructed a 20-foot cribwall, inventoried 1 acre of weeds, and removed a campfire ring.

A BIG thank you to all the Pistol Creek Volunteers and Debra Ellers, our our project leader for all the hard work they put into this project! The numbers show their commitment to trails and future trail users.

The Idaho Trails Association also wants to thank the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation for their financial support and trail crew leadership.



Alice-Toxaway Trail Project – The Crown Jewels

As the project approached, I could sense the volunteer’s excitement to hike the Alice-Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Though animals scattered at the sound of our tools clinking hard at work, we saw marmots, a snowshoe rabbit, an osprey, woodpeckers, and a 2 point buck. Every day of the seven day project, the volunteers hiked out on trail with such enthusiasm, and you could see the talent building with each day for those new to trail maintenance.

Each day we started having two groups to cover a larger range of trail work. During the first two days, the volunteers completed the majority of the 18-mile Alice-Toxaway Loop. By the second night both groups had reunited to start other scopes of the project. On the third day the Edna Trail and Edith Trail were both being worked. For a lunch break, one group watched an inchworm stretch to a leafy lunch overlooking Edith, while the others at Edna dipped their toes into the lake for to refresh for the afternoon. On the fourth day we all went en route to the Edna junction, breaking into groups as we hiked to certain parts of the trail. Some hiked 14 miles round trip, past Vernon Lake to cut out a tree that was causing horses issues on the trail. Others hiked up to Sand Mountain Pass to repair and widen tread along the Edna trail that was tricky for hikers trying to trek the switchbacks. The last group worked closer to the junction moving rocks and clearing brush that stretched over the trail.  On the last day we cleared brush and repaired the final 2 miles of the Toxaway Loop. The others hiked the social trails to campsites, cleaning up trash left, and dismantling fire rings they came across. Overall the volunteers maintained roughly 29 miles of trail within the Sawtooths!

Cleaning, repairing, and constructing waterbars was the biggest achievement with an astounding total of 256 maintained. This is a huge help since it will prevent erosion of the trail. To help maintain the corridor wide enough for horses and hikers, 12 trees were cleared from the trail.  Along rocky sections of the trail, we moved 6 large boulders off the trail and dug fresh tread for hikers and horses to pass safely. Hikers and horses had been loosing their footing on the slippery granite rocks. Lastly, since it is not permitted to have fires within this section of the Sawtooths, we scoured the rocky hillsides and campsites for used fire rings. Fortunately, we did not find too many.

To keep our volunteers in such great shape after the long days of work. We had Mystic Saddle Ranch pack our gear in and out of the base camp. We were accompanied by Bortch, who was an amazing cook and story teller. Every night we went to bed with our tummy’s full of a delicious dinner and sometimes dessert. They provided a lovely base camp.  Each volunteer felt like they were living in luxury in the backcountry wilderness.

As our group grew closer through the days of hard work, we gave our tools nicknames that could easily have been mistaken as crew member names. Our crosscut (AKA Mick Jagger) was named because we liked the way it moved. A saw from the 1930’s, it astounded us that it was in such good shape. But the other crosscut needed a name too.  Because both saws were so similar, the second one was named Roxanne. However, they needed one more friend, so our loppers soon became Cindy Lopper. And that is how we gained three more crew members.

Thanks again to our volunteers for their talent and hard work. It was a very rewarding project.  We look forward to doing this project again next year! If you missed out this year, be on the look out to participate next year!

We also want to thank the Sawtooth Society for their financial support for this project, which would not have been possible otherwise.  We also want to thank the Sawtooth National Forest for their support and project leadership.

Become a Member of ITA Today!

Support the work of our volunteers!

Incorporated in 2010, our mission is to promote the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails.  We work to accomplish our mission through volunteer trail work, education about Idaho’s unique trail resources, and professional advocacy.

This year our goal is to maintain more than 105 miles of hiking trails with the help of 95 volunteers.  On National Trails Day alone, 16 volunteers helped maintain a hiking trail in the Bruneau-Jarbidge Wilderness .  In mid July, volunteers maintained 17 miles of the Pistol Creek Trail near Cascade, clearing fallen trees and brush. With six more volunteer trail projects scheduled this year, we’re on our way to reaching our goal.

These projects would not be possible without the work of dedicated volunteers and the financial support of our members.  We want to recruit as many new members as we have volunteers – 95.  ITA offers affordable membership rates, starting at $15 for students of public or private institutions.

Your contribution will help keep Idaho’s hiking trails safe, sustainable, and enjoyable. If you are already a volunteer or member, we thank you and hope that you will invite a friend to join with us. Summer is a great time to renew your membership or become a new member!

Celebrate National Trails Day

We love trails, yes we do! We love trails, how about you?

June 2nd is National Trails Day, a time to celebrate trails and reflect on the efforts that go in to making and maintaining them. Did you know that there are  six trail projects on National Trails Day throughout the state of Idaho? The Idaho Trails Association is taking volunteers to work on Tindall Trail but there are many other exciting options from Cambridge to Clark Fork. Check out the registered projects in Idaho on the American Hiking Society page. Not mentioned on the list is a project in the Boise Foothills with Ridge to Rivers and REI.