While we were out in Idaho, we had the pleasure of taking a day and hiking. While the Moscow area was devoid of any snow this year, the surrounding mountains still had a bit of the white stuff, and forget about trying to get to the big mountains. It was winter, after all. I’m particularly excited about the nearly year-round hiking available out there. In the summer, I can retreat to the high country. In the winter, I can head low into the canyons where it stays pretty warm late into the fall and warms up quickly in the spring.
Hell’s canyon was a bit far for this trip and may have required driving on some snowy forest service roads in the higher altitude. But as I soon found out, there’s plenty of good terrain closer to “home.” Just south of Lewiston on the Washington side of the Snake River is Asotin Creek. The creek begins in the Blue Mountains and winds its way down to the Snake, carving a deep gorge up to 1500 feet deep in many places.
Unlike the canyons of the southwest, these are carved into Basalt in a slightly less-dry environment. The result is more vegetation, though it’s still mostly grasses and shrubs. There are small patches of evergreen forest on the canyon floor, particularly on the northern walls.
The drive in to the trailhead seemed to take forever, at least 20 minutes on a dirt road. At one point, I thought we’d be at the head of the canyon, not very deep below the rim. But upon further investigation, I found that the trailhead in the state wildlife management area wasn’t even halfway up the gorge. We ended up only hiking about two miles in, but I’m already hooked. I’m looking forward to returning and hiking beyond our stopping point, maybe even spending a night or two down there.
But more importantly, this sets the tone for exploring Hell’s Canyon, a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon.