Swan Falls - Wilson creek

Discussion in 'Rides' started by Obrianmcc, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. So back in February I receive a message from my friend Jason ..... "Weather is looking good, time to ride" .... my response was simple "I'm in"

    Jason being the master planner of all things GPS whipped up a quick route option taking us by Swan Falls, across the river into the Owyhees, through Wilson Creek before looping back over the Snake River.

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    We both agreed on a meeting point on the canyon rim above Swan Falls. Jason, coming from East Boise will work his way through the maze of roads off South Pleasant Valley Road. I will be arriving from Meridian, and have chosen to trailer to our meeting point.

    The air is clean, crisp, and still as the sun starts it's warming effect .... I reach point zero first and begin my unload and final prep.

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    Moments pass and I can hear off in the calm distance that ever so familiar tone of a 4 stroke running full open ... then Jason's dust trail becomes visible well before I can see Jason himself.

    Jason rolls up minutes later .....

    We reconnect as we haven't ridden together since prior to the Fall. Jason wrapped up his season by leading his brothers through an awesome four day SW Idaho Loop of high alpine peaks ....

    http://www.trailimage.com/brother-ride-2014

    Bikes warmed up ... were off!

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    We stop at the first overlook with Swan Falls Dam below .... our plan is to make an exploratory run down the east side of the river ... we'd then loop back up to the dam where we would dismount and push our bikes to the other side.

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    Swan Falls is operated by Idaho Power, who has been making significant improvements to the area by means of area restoration, river access, and camp spots.

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    https://www.idahopower.com/ourenviro...ls/default.cfm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_Falls_Dam

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    "Swan Falls Dam is on the Snake River about 40 miles south of Boise. Built in 1901 to provide electricity to nearby mines, it is the oldest hydroelectric generating site on the Snake River. Idaho Power built a new power plant in the mid-1990s. The old plant is decommissioned and is now a historical display"

    To be continued .....
     
  2. Awesome trip so far, can't wait to see more!
     

  3. Swan Falls - Wilson Creek Continued

    Jason and I work our way down the road along the east side ... we both know that the road dead ends at a trail head, but all the times that I have visited Swan Falls I have never actually been to the end of the road. We ride down to the TH that spans roughly from Swan Falls to Celebration Park and then reverse back up stream to the dam.

    The dam has an open catwalk that connects the east side to the west ... we arrive, shut down the bikes and begin our push across the river. The push across is quite easy with an enduro class bike... a larger Adv class bike would pose a challenge as there are some tight 90 deg corners to negotiate.

    Once across the dam we work our way along a tumble weed filled access trail that connects about a 100yds up stream of the dam to a road that drops down from the ridge just north of Sinker Butte.

    We dislodge the collected tumbleweeds from our bikes, mount up, and ride north along the west side.

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    The road starts as a primitive two track, to single track, and then again back to two track ... we pass on old homestead and cross a few fences before we arrive at what seems like an ordinary boulder field, a by-product of the old Bonneville Flood some 14000 years in the past.

    Jason had his sights set on this particular field as it contains some truly amazing history in the medium of ancient petroglyphs. I myself have heard that these rock drawings existed along sections of the snake, but have never actually seen them myself.

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    We wander around from boulder to boulder trying to decipher the intent and/or meaning of particular drawings .... did they have some deeper meaning? .... or was it simply a bored native American trying to pass time during their winter stay?

    We head down the trail with the intent to follow the track away from the river and up onto the upper plain.

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    ***Note - We found out post ride that the section of trail through Wees Bar is actually closed to motorized vehicles. Evidently there are signs posted by the BLM, but further investigation found those signs to be either laying on the ground or actually placed off the track out of our view. Some sign adjustment by the BLM might be prudent ... I can understand their desire to close off this section to help preserve petroglyphs. The road in is motor accessible, as is the road out from atop the plain. There is about a mile or so that requires visitors to walk.
     
  4. Swan Falls - Wilson Creek Continued

    Once on our way from Wees Bar ... we headed down the track to a point where it climbs up from the river to the upper plain. The climb had some incline and loose rock, but was very manageable.

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    We stopped briefly once at the top for a quick look at the view below ....

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    Snake River (North)

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    The route up the hill...

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    Snake River (South)

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    Once on top the view opened up into a large expansive grassy plain with the Owyhee's in our view.

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    Jason's next stopping point was to be the site of the Utter Massacre ... Jason had researched the location with interest and wanted to see if we would be able to ride to the actual site.

    http://history.idaho.gov/sites/defau...eries/0233.pdf

    http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonh...D5469398A0502D

    GPS on, waypoint found, we're off .... me in tow, Jason in the lead as this country is full of crisscrossing ranch roads and I have no clue where were going!
     
  5. Swan Falls - Wilson Creek (Cont)

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    The adage "Keep it Tight" applies here in this open country .... the maze of roads and fence lines along with the higher speeds associated with the open plain provides ample opportunity to get separated, Jason and I have a pretty good system which allows enough space for any dust to clear while also using the buddy system to negotiate the few open range gates.

    Jason's dust trail is visible off in the distance ....

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    We work our way south into an area that is SE of Murphy on the map .... an area that is completely new to me with roads unknown. What I do know is that the river is to the East and the mountains are to the West.

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    Jason locates a trail that he has marked on his GPS ... there is no signage or markings as it turns off the main road, but we do come across those typical cement Oregon Trail markers shortly after turning off the road... the trail takes up a hill and into a little dip or basin. Jason stops and makes his best assessment off his GPS that this spot might be the massacre site, or at least we should be close.

    We stop, take a break, and snap a few pics ...

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    To be continued ....
     
  6. Swan Falls - Wilson Creek (Cont)

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    Once Jason and I finished exploring the area we assumed to be the actual massacre site, we realized that mid day was upon us. Our plan is to cross over to the Owyhee Front and ride up through Reynolds. About this time Jason mentioned the craving for a hamburger, and it so happens that the Murphy store has a grill .... bikes pointed to our next destination ... lunch!

    After a tasty burger and a nice sit down break at the Murphy store, we again point our bikes west along Rabbit Creek Rd, which turns into the Reynolds Creek Stage Road. The road is fast and dust free as we pass Tiddie Creek and Black Mountain Road. Snow is still prevalent higher up so our ride today won't see much higher elevation exploring.

    (I like to support small local business as our little adventures direct us through smaller communities. The Owyhee's specifically see a lot of winter time OHV use, and as a result probably not much business from the average user. I figure it beneficial if we stop as riders and spend some money at the local establishments to hopefully show that we are not just a bunch of thankless users, but we do bring an economic component as we visit the areas a lot of these people call home)

    Jason leads me through Reynolds turning off onto Pack Rat Rd ... I've been through Reynolds before, multiple times, but I was unaware of these roads leading anywhere, but Jason leads and I follow. We navigate down Pack Rat, turn onto Salmon Creek, and then Wilson Creek Rd. It becomes clear to me at this point that this route connects through to .... yep, Wilson Creek. Cool ... learn something new every day!

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    We ride along Wilson Creek Road until we come to the Rd 37154 intersection.

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    37154 quickly presents itself as a primitive 4wd road, which suits our adventure preferences.

    We make our way up towards the top. As we crest the saddle I notice Wilson Peak on our left and a stunning view of Wilson Creek and the valley below. Right at this point a sign pops into view ....

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    "Motorized travel not recommended beyond this point, road bed is washed out and highly eroded"

    What did I just say about that adventure preference? ... forward we go!
     
  7. Nice ride report. I like the "caution" sign.....scared you away I'm sure.

    We made it down to see the Wees Bar petroglyphs this spring but did not cross the dam to do so but rather made it an out-n-back from near Murphy. Pretty cool place.
     
  8. Swan Falls - Wilson Creek (Cont)

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    Jason and I descend down Rd 37154 .... the rains from the previous night have the dirt right on the edge of being mud, but at the same time it has just the right amount of tack. The road is littered with ruts and washouts requiring us to ride some off camber that at first feels like were going to slide off the road, but rubber and soil connect with just enough friction to let us pass.

    Lower Wilson and the Snake

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    The road continues downward towards Reynolds Canyon ... Jason has the canyon marked as a point of interest, but my mountain biking background leads me to believe that the canyon and surrounding area are not going to be open to motorized fun ... this would prove to be true once we hit the bottom and the first canyon access point.

    Stopping about a third of the way down ... still on 37154

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    Along the opposite side of the canyon there were very vibrant spots of Red that contrasted against the desert hillside. Not sure of the exact cause, but I suspect they were some sort of mineral deposits... or something?

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    Fun trail ....

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    Jason working his way up the opposing track ...

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    We make our way to the top of the last section before dropping into Wilson Creek. Here we are met by a group of wild horses... they kind of scatter, but at the same time they stop as to assess our intentions. A sentinel stays close to us with a watchful eye as we pass.

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    The day is winding down as we make our way through Wilson Creek, back across the Snake to a track that takes us up and through Celebration Park. From there we made our way across the desert flats back to Swan Falls Road and our staging point. All in all another excellent day of riding though areas familiar and areas of new.

    If you have not already ... check out Jason's blog of todays ride. Jason has an impressive hand at capturing the true essence of a ride in an image.

    http://www.trailimage.com/swan-falls...eek-via-murphy