Friday, November 23, 2007

Pooches still need hikes in winter

Hiking and snowshoeing opportunities abound throughout valley


By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer

Rae DeVito walks Frances, a deaf Dalmatian and Tommy, a blind shepherd along Trail Creek, accompanied by a foster dog named Jeremiah. Photo by David N. Seelig

Although most of the estimated 1,400 miles of hiking and biking trails in the Wood River Valley and the nearby Sawtooth National Recreation Area usually are covered after heavy snow falls, that's no reason for hikes with family pooches to end.

Hardy cross-country skiers can hit a half dozen groomed trails in the northern valley—as well as a new one this year in Hailey's Quigley Canyon—with their dogs, provided they have a basic $179 season pass for themselves and $49 for Fido. The Quigley pass is $129. All passes are available through the Blaine County Recreation District office in Hailey, or online at www.bcrd.org.

Snowshoers also have trails set aside for them, too, in the northern valley. A $5 day pass is required. Sun Valley Resort also boasts some 7 kilometers of snowshoe trails in and near the resort's lodge in central Sun Valley.

Nordic trails are located generally between the north of Ketchum and around the SNRA headquarters and north to Galena Lodge.

For basic dog walking and hiking, these are the most popular:

· The Wood River Trail—commonly known as "the bike path"—between Ketchum and Hailey is groomed for cross-country skiers and showshoeing, plus leisurely walking with dogs. No pass required.

· Arguably one of the most popular, Adams Gulch just north of Ketchum provides a regularly plowed trailhead, although trails are packed down by hikers. The area has a network of flat and hilly.

· Also high in popularity along with Adams Gulch in the Ketchum area is Trail Creek Road. Plowed to just north of Boundary Campground, the snow-covered road is a comfortable, level walk for miles and miles. The bike path alongside Trail Creek Road also is usable during the winter.

· Bald Mountain is the choice of others for a steep, challenging winter hike, although it's not listed as an official trail. The Forest Service routinely puts out a warning each winter that hiking Baldy during ski season can be risky for hikers headed uphill while skiers race downhill. Walking dogs also is discouraged and reflective clothing is encouraged.

· The road in Hailey's Quigley Canyon is very popular in winter for dog walking. In this area of heavy use, dog owners are especially encouraged to not leave dog waste behind.

Although there is no designation of which are usable during the winter, brochures listing trails throughout the region are available at the Forest Service headquarters in Ketchum, 206 Sun Valley Road.




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