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High Creek - White Canyon, 16 August, 2015

Ten hikers participated in the High Creek to White Canyon hike. This was a "key exchange" trip, where we divided into groups and drove the other group's car in opposite directions to distant trailheads. Dave W, Nick, Jim, and Jill started on the White Canyon side, while Dave P, Bryan, Jean, Ryan, Nikolai and Dan started on the High Creek side.

High Creek to White Canyon. The High Creek group left the trailhead just after 9:00 a.m. and found the trail very user friendly. We saw a hairy woodpecker and had many stream crossings, although they were not difficult. There were a few cows and we encountered one gate, and we saw a rubber boa, too.. As we climbed we were encouraged by some good views back to the west in spite of the smoky haze from distant wildfires.

We found the need to rest a couple of times and eventually came to the switchbacks which brought us to the ridge as a red tailed hawk came into close range and circled above us. Our group was first to the top, but a call on the walkie-talkie radio found the others only 15 minutes away. We all ate lunch together in a meadow on the ridge and exchanged car keys.

After lunch we continued our separate ways, although Dave P went back down to High Creek with the White Canyon group. The trail was easy to find at first as we started down through some trees, but then we had to "bushwhack" a few times as the trail faded in and out. Having been on this section before, it was easy to find the way - along with the help of GPS waypoints.

On the way down we heard elk calling on the hillside above us, but we did not find the large group that the others saw. There also were mushrooms (see photo) on the trail. Bryan and Dan found garbage along the trail and took it along to be disposed of. The group arrived at the car before 3 p.m. and back to Logan at 4.

White Canyon to High Creek. The White Canyon group arrived at the trailhead, where we found a few other vehicles and a "sheep camp" wagon. We started hiking about 9:30 a.m. toward the east, with the white rocks t hat give this canyon its name visible in the distance. The gentle grade made for easy hiking at first, although several times we had to detour around fallen trees that were blocking the way.

We did not see any livestock, but we did run into a large herd of elk. There were several dozen cows and calves, but no bull elk were seen. Our route apparently caused the herd to split up - we could hear them calling all around us as we hiked.

After about 3 miles we left the drainage and headed uphill to follow the ridge on the north. This was the "right" way, but the trail here was so faint and seldom-used that we lost the track several times. Fortunately we knew where to go, and met the other group on the main ridge about 12:15.

After lunch, we continued west, down the North Fork High Creek trail. The loose footing caused us to carefully pick our way down this steep trail but conditions improved after about two miles. We arrived at the High Creek Trailhead and our vehicles about 3:35 after a number of stream crossings and a few cattle encounters. We were back in Logan about 4:20.

Late-summer wildflowers added variety to our hike: yarrow, pollen-loaded western coneflower, shiny red baneberry, tasty gooseberry currant, fragrant coyote mint, bright yellow goldeneye and attractive asters and fleabanes.

Trail notes: The White Canyon trail is entirely within Idaho. It is no longer maintained, with many trees down across the trail. The upper mile is indistinct due to lack of use (and it is infested with annoying stickseed, too). The North Fork High Creek trail is mostly within the Naomi Peak Wilderness of Utah. The trail is fairly steep, especially the upper two miles, where loose and rocky tread can make difficult footing for downhill hikers. Multiple paths, caused by cattle, are confusing a portion of this trail.

Trip Summary:

  • High Creek group:
    • Carpooled 21 miles to the High Creek trailhead near Richmond and started hiking about 9:00
    • Arrived at the White Canyon trailhead by 3:00 and Logan at 4:00
    • 8.3 miles hiking with 3100 feet of climbing and 1400 feet of descent
  • White Canyon group:
    • Carpooled 32 miles to the White Canyon trailhead near Franklin Basin and started hiking about 9:30
    • Arrived at the High Creek trailhead at 3:35 and Logan at 4:20
    • 8.3 miles hiking with 1400 feet of climbing and 3100 feet of descent
  • Both groups met on the ridge for lunch and key exchange, 12:15 - 12:55
  • Mostly clear skies but smoky, calm with pleasant temperatures

Thanks to Dan and Dave W for the narrative, Dan, Dave W., Nick and Bryan for photos and Dan for the GPS work.

North
                        Fork Trailhead

Starting out on the North Fork High Creek trail

Rubber Boa

NF High
                        Creek trail

Rubber boa Hiking up the North Fork High Creek trail

Coneflowers

Smoke

Hiking through western coneflowers along the trail Smoky skies, from distant wildfires
Sign
The only remaining trail sign on the White Canyon trail
White Canyon Logs
The white rocks that give this canyon its name Fallen trees blocking the White Canyon trail
Elk Summit
Elk The top of North Fork High Creek trail, at the ridge summit

Lunch

Lunch in meadow at the top of the hike

Summit Currant
On the North Fork High Creek trail, near the junction with the Deep Creek trail Gooseberry currant
Mushrooms Goldeneye
Mushrooms Goldeneye
Coyote mint Creek crossing
Coyote mint Crossing North Fork High Creek
Map
Our GPS track shows 8.3 miles, with 1400 - 3100 feet of elevation gain (depending on route direction)

You can also look at our route using Google Earth or the various map and aerial views of Google Maps