The trails surrounding the Garden Valley Area cover nearly 5000 miles. They are host to snowmobiling, cross country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, back country running, off-roading, camping, and seasonal hunting. These trails connect to neighboring communities and counties and tie into the State of Idaho’s unique recreational resources and history.
Garden Valley Area 8B Snowmachine Grooming Map
The Garden Valley Trail System begins at the Terrace Lakes Resort. A total of 17 miles are groomed, leading to Packer John and connecting with the trail system maintained by the Smith’s Ferry grooming program. Trails are also groomed from silver Creek to Six Mile, Boiling Springs, and Silver Creek resort. Garden Mountain can also be reached from the trail system though the route is ungroomed.
The Packer John Trail System begins at Cougar Mountain Lodge, 50 miles north of Boise. Riders go south along the road that parallels the North Fork of the Payette River on the East bank. It will lead to Packer John Lookout. From there the trail continues to “Three Forks” where it connects with other groomed trails that lconnect to the Silver Creek System and Terrace Lakes. This basic loop is about 31 miles.
The Silver Creek Trail System starts at either Cougar Mountain Lodge or Terrace Lakes Lodge. Starting from Cougar Mountain Lodge, Follow the North Fork of the Payette River south. After 5 miles, turn left on FS road #696 and go 6 miles, turn left on FS road #693, which connects with many of the groomed trails that cross over the North Fork range and leads to Boiling Springs and then to Silver Creek Guard Station. The scenery is spectacular, following the Middle Fork of the Payette River as well as some of its tributaries. There are about 50 miles of trail between Cougar Mountain and Silver Creek Guard Station.
The Payette River system offers whitewater classifications from I-IV. Commercial Outfitters take groups on day, full day, and overnight trips from Spring through Autumn. The Payette Whitewater Roundup, held in July, is a qualifying event for the US Olympic Junior Kayaking team. Whitewater fans of all levels enjoy the varied Payette!
There are numerous Hot Springs in the Valley. There’s nothing after a long day at play like a good hot soak! Hot Springs are one of Idaho’s most secret and coveted natural treasures!
The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway is home to a high concentration of Elk, Deer and Bald Eagles. There are numerous Highway turnouts made available for wildlife viewing from the road. The high concentration of deer and Elk is the result of the canyon being at a lower elevation than the surrounding mountains, allowing the animals to feed on sage and bitterbrush. Though this food is low in nutritional value, it provides some food during the winter months. Then the route becomes a Migration path back to the higher elevations as the weather warms in the spring. Hundreds of Deer and Elk can be seen moving across the valley and up the mountainsides to the higher grasses as the snow recedes.
Turnouts for viewing the wildlife are at mileposts 17.5, 20.2, 21.3, 23.5, 27.8, and 33 between Garden Valley and Lowman. A large turnout complete with public binoculars.
You will see many White Tail Deer, Mule deer, and Rocky Mountain Elk. the White Tailed Deer raises its tail like a white flag when it runs. The Mule Deer has large mule shaped ears. The Elk has a heart shaped whitish rump patch that surrounds its tail. Its head and neck are darker than the rest of its body.
There are also many wild Turkeys, Marmots, an occasional Bear, Cougar, or possibly a Moose, as well as many Fox, Chukers, Osprey, and you may even see a shy Wolf.
Some of the things to be seen along the Byway are listed below.
- Staircase Rapids
Spectacular river scenery features one of the most famous rapids along the South Fork of the Payette River.
- Area Information and Map
Large area wide map and a scenic vista of the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Forks of the Payette River.
- Historic City of Crouch
The historic city of Crouch lies less than one mile north of the roadway.
- Pioneer Cemetery
Cemetery brings reminders of days long past of the rich heritage of this area.
- Alder Creek Bridge
Location of historic toll bridge and home site of artist Charles Ostner whose 1869 George Washington woodcarving stands in Idaho’s State Capitol Rotunda.
- Grimes Pass Dam
Interpretive panels depict the historic dams along the South Fork of the Payette River that powered mining dredges in the Boise Basin.
- Danskin Station and Rest Areas
Big game viewing, white water access, river safety information, and public restrooms. Named for Peter Danskin who maintained a stagecoach relay station here.
- Gallagher Flat Wildlife Viewpoint
Magnificent vistas for winter wildlife viewing. Also visible are the original foundations of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Gallagher Flat.
- Big Falls Viewpoint
Big Falls drops 40 feet requiring users to portage past this point. No hiking access from road.
- Pine Flats Campground and Hot Springs
GPS Coordinates are: Latitude 44.0624 and Longitude -115.6862
Public use area developed by the CCC in the 1930’s. These hot springs provide unique habitat for plants and animals as well as natural spas for people.
- Deadwood Campground
Rest area, Julie Creek trailhead, and white water access. Archeological excavations revealed this campsite was occupied between AD 534-731 and again from AD 1019-1221.
- Staircase Rapids
Historic “Crouch” — This historic town, a short mile up the Middlefork Road from the highway, has long been the center of commerce in the valley. The rustic old wooden town center buildings house a variety of gift and food establishments, as well as the mercantile and commodities shops needed to support the community residents, and provide refreshment and supplies to the numerous visitors to the area. The new City Park is the start of a non-motorized bike and pedestrian path that winds through the park as well as other scenic Garden Valley areas.
Pioneer Cemetery — Brings reminders of days long past of the rich heritage of the area.
Alder Creek Bridge — and homesite of artist Charles Ostner. Near this historic “Silver” Bridge was the home of Charles Ostner whose famous woodcarving of George Washington still stands in the Idaho State Capital today. (The historic “Silver Bridge” was replaced and upgraded in the summer of 2014)
Big Falls and Staircase Rapids — Two of the most famous whitewater rafting locations along the South Fork of the Payette. The South Fork features a run through a canyon with a portage at Big Falls. This canyon stretch is punctuated at its deepest point by a 40-foot waterfall. River runners portage around this spectacular sight then continue on through a narrow gorge filled with natural hot springs. After the Deadwood River adds its flow, the river begins to drop about 40 feet per mile with continuous steep rapids.
Danskin Station — Big game viewing, info and whitewater access.
Gallagher Flat — Original Civilian Conservation Corps camp foundations.
Pine Flats — Hot springs for plants, animals and people!
Deadwood Campground — Campsite was occupied as early as AD 534.
Grimes Pass Dam — powered mining dredges in the Boise Basin.
Live Musical Theater – Memorial Day to Labor Day, enjoy top-notch theater performances under the stars at Starlight Mountain Theatre. You can also check out their scheduled performances on our Calendar of Events page during the summer months.
Neighbors – Garden Valley is a gem along the scenic loop from Boise to Lowman to Idaho City. This day trip takes you through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery imaginable. A short distance north is the town of McCall and to the east, the famous ski resort of Sun Valley.