Steam Mill, 1 October, 2023

Eight Cache Hikers met at the usual Smith’s Marketplace rendezvous at 8 am. It had rained the night before, was sprinkling a bit in the morning, and had further rain forecast, so everyone came suitably attired. We carpooled in two vehicles to the Franklin Basin turnoff and up the bumpy road to park just south of the horse camp. To miss the log stream crossing, Dave W. led us a bit further east to walk over a buried culvert and rejoin the main trail.

The trail up was wet but fine. The temperature was cool and pleasant for a little uphill work. We added layers against the cool breeze as we got into the open beside Steam Mill creek. We successfully negotiated the remaining three stream crossings. Noon lunch was at the boiler remains. We sat on a comfortable log under sheltering conifers, which was the perfect spot to gear up as the weather closed in with hail and rain. We decided to skip the lake and head back down the trail. The downhill route was muddier but fine. We took the north arm of the lower loop to emerge near the horse camp and crossed the stream at the usual spot. It rained long enough on the way back to test gear and compare choices, but ended in blue skies and sunshine.

The aspens have donned their brilliant colors -- mainly yellow but some stretches of red and orange. Only a few hardy flowers remain, including one fleabane, one yellow goldeneye, and one checkermallow. We encountered only one horse rider, a trail runner, and a USU zoology student group heading to the lake to find salamanders. Back at the vehicles, another horse rider updated us on their fall cattle roundup. 

Trip Summary
  • 8 hikers:  Dave P., Brent, Ralph, Jane, Dave W., Kathy, Ophelia, and Teresa (leader)
  • Drove 23 miles to the Franklin Basin trailhead
  • Started hiking about 8:45, lunch about 12:00 - 12:40, back at the trailhead about 2:00 pm, and back in town before 3:00 pm
  • Hiked about 6.9 miles with about 1500 feet of elevation gain (would have been 500 more if we had gotten to the lake)
  • Temperatures ranged from 40 to 60 degrees with mostly gray skies, moments of blue sunshine, and yes, some rain and a bit of hail

Thanks to Teresa for the narrative and photos, Brent, Jane and Ralph for photos, and Dave W. for photos and GPS data

The start of our hike after walking to the south side of the stream, with Beaver Mountain in the background

Hiking through the aspens

There were several cows near the trail
Pausing after the steepest trail section (mile 1.8) before crossing over to Steam Mill Canyon

The trail followed a pleasant stream in Steam Mill Canyon

There were several fairly easy stream crossings

Shortys Cutoff trail headed off to the south (the Bear 100 runners went that way two days before our hike)

The old steam mill boiler
Our leisurely lunch near the boiler came to a sudden end when the hail started
Fortunately everyone was prepared to hike in wet weather (notice the old boiler in the background)

We were able to enjoy the colorful aspens after the rain and hail stopped

Back at the trailhead, under blue skies and sunshine

Showy goldeneye, Heliomeris multiflora
Oregon checkermallow, Sidalcea oregana

Our GPS track shows about 6.9 miles and 1500 feet of ascent.
You can look at our route using Google Earth or download our GPS file.