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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


Volunteer Appreciation Party!

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Join us for our Volunteer Appreciation Party on Saturday April 18th, 2015, to say thanks to all of our amazing Volunteers, Land Managers and sponsors who work so hard to make the Idaho Trails Association a success!

Where: Older Timer’s Shelter at Ann Morrison park in Boise, Idaho!

When: Saturday April 18th from 5:00 to 8:30!

We will have food from In the Wild Chef and beer from Sockeye brewery. We will give a debrief on last year’s accomplishments and a review of all the exciting projects and new things going on this year! We have great raffle prizes ranging from a half day raft trip on the Payette river from Cascade Raft & Kayak, a starter climbing pass for two from Urban Ascent, Rideout  technology Firefly bike grips, REI backpacks, a Jansport Heritage Telluride Backpack, prizes from Cascade Outfitters, Shu’s Idaho Running company, and many more great prizes. We will have an original one of a kind Canvas print by Ed Cannady on Auction….don’t miss out on this rare opportunity! All proceeds will go to help us maintain Idaho’s hiking trails!

Come and see old friends and meet new ones!  You don’t need to have participated in a work party in the past, just come and enjoy the camaraderie!


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Oolite Trail Work Party Debrief

Our first trail work party of 2015 was a huge success. We had over 30 volunteers eager to get outside on a gorgeous Saturday in January!  We partnered with the Bruneau Field Office of the BLM to work on the Oolite Interpretive Trail in the Owyhees.

We did some minor pruning and signed the 0.5 mile trail that leads to the mineral cliff deposits. We removed the old metal/barbed wire entrance gate and installed a really nice Juniper hiker maze entrance at the trailhead. We also added a new trailhead sign. The new trailhead sign and Juniper hiker entrance makes the trail more visible from the road and we gave the trail some much needed TLC. After all the work was done we hiked and explored this amazing and unusual area. Then we all relaxed a bit and enjoyed hot beverages, hot dogs and chili! Thank you to all our volunteers and our partners for making this a success! Nice work!

We highly recommend exploring the Oolite interpretive trail. This is an interesting area to stop along the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway and it’s a good place for adults and youths to take a short hike, explore small rock arches, see rare plants, and tiny fossils.  The trail is about an hour and a half drive from Boise.  It is South of Mountain Home and Grandview, Idaho on the Mud Flat Road.  From Boise take the Simco Exit and drive to highway 167 and on to Grandview.  Then turn east on Highway 78 to the Mud Flat Turnoff where you will turn south and drive approx. 10 miles to the Shoofly-Oolite Trailhead, just past the Shoofly Cutoff road.

Our next trail work party is on March 28th we are doing some heavy trail pad maintenance on the Eckles Creek trail in Hell’s Canyon. If you are interested in volunteering please sign up here: Eckles Creek work party. The Eckles creek work party is almost full, so please don’t hesitate to sign up. The spots are going fast! We hope to see you there!

2014 Project Accomplishments and Summary for the Idaho Trails Association

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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.


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!