Looking up the West Fork canyon
The trail junction is center right in this photo. This photo is taken on the trail leading up the Main Rapid River, before the trail crosses the 3rd trail bridge (over the West Fork). If you look closely center left in this photo you can see the West Fork Rapid River canyon trail heading north.
The hike from the Fish Hatchery trail head up to the West Fork of the Rapid River:
I really enjoyed the “character” of the Rapid River trail up to the West Fork. There are enough ups and downs to give different leg muscles a work out and when you are up high above the river you can scan the upper reaches of the canyon wall (and you can also carry on a conversation). Then you find yourself right up against the river and the trail is at river levels at times. We encountered a few places where the trail was covered with the overflow of the high running river.
The constant thundering and roar of the river while hiking the river bank portions of the trail is difficult to describe. You hear it and you feel it. Conversation isn’t possible without shouting at the other person. It is cool next to the river hiking under the trees and through the thick canyon bottom vegetation. We did see some poison ivy in several places and in one place, hemming in the trail. We got some good information at the National Forest office in Riggins, including some informative information about poison ivy and poison oak.
I learned a lot about how the rash producing oil can be carried for a long time in clothes and even hiking boots and the problems it present forest workers.
We hike about four miles from the new trailhead and found a rock cliff peninsula overlooking both the main Rapid River and the West Fork of the Rapid River (large creek sized, but flowing fast). It was a beautiful place to enjoy our trail snacks and take in the view. A ponderosa pine provided shade for me (my wife ALWAYS out in the sun) and a good place to turn around for the day.
There were only two small campsites between the trailhead and the West Fork. Neither would be that desirable unless darkness overtook you. The guide books mention much better camping areas up the main Rapid River from the confluence with the West Fork, as well as some sites up the West Fork too. Be prepared to camp close to either the river and/or the trail though. The canyon is fairly narrow and steep with lots of brush and trees along its banks.
My wife and I took a three day road trip to the Snake River canyon area where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho meet. The highlight of the trip was a 9 mile round trip hike up the Rapid River near Riggins, Idaho.
If you want to read the details of this many road trip ~ open the narrative included with the flickr photo set: