Forum Index > Trip Reports > Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Id. May 12-13, 2019
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RichP
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PostTue May 14, 2019 7:32 am 
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This is a 124,000-acre wildlife area managed jointly by Idaho Fish and Game, The BLM and The Nez Perce Tribe located about 30 miles south of Lewiston, Id. I got word the road was snow free and decided to do an overnighter and explore Wapshilla Ridge out at the south end of the refuge.

First things first, I visited the Nez Perce County highpoint which is also the summit of Craig at 5360.' At the Madden Corral turn west and drive up. The hike is short.

The spur road that leads to the summit of Craig Mtn.
The spur road that leads to the summit of Craig Mtn.
Avalanche lillies.
Avalanche lillies.
Summit area of Craig Mtn.
Summit area of Craig Mtn.
On the ridge toward the summit. It was a short hike from the road.
On the ridge toward the summit. It was a short hike from the road.
Shooting star.
Shooting star.
Avalanche lilly.
Avalanche lilly.
Bluebell.
Bluebell.
Highpoint.
Highpoint.

The Garden Creek Preserve is located up this same spur road at Madden Corral. One can hike the 4000' or so down to The Snake river from here. This is a Nature Consevancy and BLM area.

One can hike all the way down to the Snake from here with more than a 4000' drop.
One can hike all the way down to the Snake from here with more than a 4000' drop.
Garden Creek.
Garden Creek.

A few miles up the road is the ghost town of Zaza. There are only a few collapsed structures left.

At Zaza ghost town.
At Zaza ghost town.
The no tell motel.
The no tell motel.
Zaza
Zaza
Zaza
Zaza
Not much to it, really.
Not much to it, really.
Zaza
Zaza
Zaza ghost town.
Zaza ghost town.

Some good roadside camps begin to appear shortly thereafter. It gets busy up here in hunting season.

Camp spot and view of Mt Wilson across the Snake.
Camp spot and view of Mt Wilson across the Snake.
Mt Wilson. I hiked over there a few weeks ago in The Chief Joseph Wildlife Area. This is the opposite side of The Snake and the Wash/Or border runs across the summit.
Mt Wilson. I hiked over there a few weeks ago in The Chief Joseph Wildlife Area. This is the opposite side of The Snake and the Wash/Or border runs across the summit.
Another roadside camp spot with shade.
Another roadside camp spot with shade.

Eventually the ridge begins to narrow and Wapshlla Ridge appears.

A very scenic drive.
A very scenic drive.

Zaza Rd is gated about 6 miles past the end of gravel and only horse, foot and bike traffic is permitted beyond. I biked up the road the short distance to the highpoint of Wapshilla Ridge for a view of tomorrow's bike and hike.

End of the road. Open to horses, bikes and feet beyond here.
End of the road. Open to horses, bikes and feet beyond here.
I took the short bike ride up to Wapshilla Ridge highpoint, 4900.' It was late so I decided to lallygag in this area for a couple of hours and ride further out in the morning for the other high points.
I took the short bike ride up to Wapshilla Ridge highpoint, 4900.' It was late so I decided to lallygag in this area for a couple of hours and ride further out in the morning for the other high points.
South on Wapshilla Ridge. A bit of the Seven Devils visible.
South on Wapshilla Ridge. A bit of the Seven Devils visible.
Paintbrush.
Paintbrush.
A point I'll be visiting tomorrow.
A point I'll be visiting tomorrow.
trough.
trough.
Wildlife watering trough.
Wildlife watering trough.
The Salmon River.
The Salmon River.
The Salmon, almost 4000' below.
The Salmon, almost 4000' below.
Wapshilla Ridge.
Wapshilla Ridge.

After a good sleep I was ready to explore Wapshilla out to the last highpoint, Birch Creek Benchmark some 7 miles away. The confluence of the Snake and Salmon is at the toe of this ridge.

A new flower for me.
A new flower for me.
Ready to go.
Ready to go.
Out to Wapshilla.
Out to Wapshilla.
Left goes down Wapshilla Ck to the Salmon.
Left goes down Wapshilla Ck to the Salmon.
Hedgehog cactus in bloom.
Hedgehog cactus in bloom.
Losing elevation now.
Losing elevation now.
It's good shape. Hunters use this but it's open to anyone.
It's good shape. Hunters use this but it's open to anyone.
Idaho Fish & Game maintains several of these cabins throughout the area for public use.
Idaho Fish & Game maintains several of these cabins throughout the area for public use.
Pretty nice inside.
Pretty nice inside.
Needs some glazing.
Needs some glazing.
My next peak, Point 4780.
My next peak, Point 4780.
4780.
4780.
Salmon.
Salmon.

I parked my bike about 4.5 miles in from the gate where the road takes a steep dive down Frenchy Creek toward the Snake. From here I walked the ridge 2.5 miles out toward Birch Ck BM. I didn't realize it at this point but there was a good trail below me. I soon found it and walked it all the way out.

I contacted staff at Idaho Fish and Game and was told that the trail goes out a few miles to an old sheep camp.

More hedgehogs.
More hedgehogs.
Birch Creek drops to the Salmon.
Birch Creek drops to the Salmon.
Faint trail now in view.
Faint trail now in view.
Birch Ck.
Birch Ck.
Walking the trail. It seemed too good to be a game trail and was flagged in places.
Walking the trail. It seemed too good to be a game trail and was flagged in places.
On the trail to Birch Ck BM.
On the trail to Birch Ck BM.
Drainage to the Snake.
Drainage to the Snake.
Birch Creek BM, 4524.'
Birch Creek BM, 4524.'
Cave.
Cave.
The Salmon.
The Salmon.
Nice ones.
Nice ones.
Foot for comparison. There are several varieties of hedgehog cactus. These are called Simpson's hedgehog. Flower color can vary.
Foot for comparison. There are several varieties of hedgehog cactus. These are called Simpson's hedgehog. Flower color can vary.
Leaving Birch Creek BM.
Leaving Birch Creek BM.
Balsamroot.
Balsamroot.
The trail ascending.
The trail ascending.
4780.
4780.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140915004647/http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/IFWIS/ibt/site.aspx?id=N43

http://www.hikingfromhere.com/hikes/11/wapshilla_ridge_on_craig_mountain.html

Presently, a 120 mile loop that circumnavigates Craig Mtn is being restored which will increase hiker, mountain biker and horseback options in the area. Good news!  up.gif

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/idaho/articles/2019-03-09/idaho-ghost-trail-on-the-cusp-of-making-a-comeback

Map of the area:
https://idfg.idaho.gov/old-web/docs/wma/craig.pdf

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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wadel
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PostWed May 15, 2019 8:03 am 
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Thanks for the excellent post, pictures, and links to great resources! I haven't been out there in a bunch of years but need to get back. Maybe next spring we can make it for the wildflowers.

I once, very foolishly, drove down the Eagle Creek road to the Salmon. I don't recommend that unless you are on a dual-sport moto or ATV.
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RichP
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PostWed May 15, 2019 4:18 pm 
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Still lots of wildflowers to come. Lupine is just getting started as are others. It was my first time to catch the cactus bloom so that was great. I definitely will be going back to explore some of the drainages in the future. Hiking that ridge between the Snake and Salmon is spectacular.

My buddy drove his truck down Eagle Ck some years ago and said a ranger accused him of being insane. He barely got back out of there. I saw lots of pickups with trailers at the top on Sunday when I drove by so I think ATV's or motorcycles are the way to go.

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wadel
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PostThu May 16, 2019 7:32 am 
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My next many weekends are all spoken for. You have to get in the calendar early this time of the year smile.gif

I also drove my full-size truck down it. In 4-low. A crawl speed for many miles makes for a long trip. I later did it on my dual-sport motorcycle and it was much more enjoyable. And a lot quicker.

Thanks for all your great posts of our area.
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NWtrax
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PostThu May 16, 2019 7:53 am 
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Lovely vast views, great report!
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Brushwork
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Joined: 18 Aug 2018
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PostThu May 16, 2019 4:02 pm 
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The unknown flower is  Mariposa lily.   Nice report and pictures!!!!

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RichP
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PostThu May 16, 2019 4:21 pm 
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Thank you. Quite a variety in that genus called calochortus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calochortus

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Id. May 12-13, 2019
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