Potlatch Canyon Trail


Forest Service Trail #765

Why? Interesting circle trail close to home.

Season: Year round if you snowshoe.

Ease: Moderate. It’s a 5-mile hike with a modest elevation change.

The Little Boulder Creek Trail has a lot going for it within one, relatively easy-walking 5-mile loop. There are meadows, woods, a river, flowers, even a kamikaze rodent if you’re really lucky.

The trail parallels the Potlatch River for about half its length, and the first mile or so of that is paved and dotted with benches and picnic tables. There’s tall brush between the trail and the river most of the way. While the brush protects the river banks, which is good, it also makes it difficult to see the river unless you’re there before the bushes leaf out in the spring.

Eventually, however, the trail becomes less road-like and more trail-like. There’s an uphill stretch about 1 mile in, a huge meadow just above the trail about 1½ miles in. When I hiked the trail one July, the meadow was full of daisies.

The trail eventually does head uphill into the woods about ¼ mile later. These are small woods, so to speak, and most of the trees are less that 1 ½ feet in diameter. But not all, and there are some fine, 3-foot larch and grand fir. The understory is low and on the July hike, full of flowers: monkshood, honeysuckle, paintbrush, thimbleberry, daisies, harebell, hollyhock, twinflower and several I couldn’t identify.

Once on the top of the ridge, the trail is again along an old road, but with openings that give the best views of the hike. I especially liked looking down at the river and the meadow area we’d already walked.

The last part of the loop heads back down the hill through another section of woods and to the junction with the trail along the river. That’s where I met the kamikaze rodent. I was walking along, minding my own business, when I heard a noise. I looked up to see a streak of fur leap out of a tree, hit the ground and disappear. The fur tells me it wasn’t a bird. The size tells me it probably was a rodent. But to be honest, I didn’t see it well enough to say anything for sure except that I must have looked more frightening than usual that day.

Trail Notes: All twists and turns along the route are signed.

Directions: Turn right off Highway 8 just after milepost 30 and just before reaching Helmer, on the road to the Little Boulder Creek campground. Turn left into the boulder-lined gravel parking area 2.3 miles later, just before the road crosses the Potlatch River.

Information: Palouse Ranger District, CWNF, (208) 875-1131.

Maps: This trail is not on any USGS map as yet.