Big Eddy to Freeman Creek


Why? Woods, views of Dworshak Reservoir, flowers in season.

Season: March through December usually is snow-free

Ease: Moderate, with 700 feet of elevation gain and loss over the 9-10 miles of trail.

Before I hiked the trail from Big Eddy to Freeman Creek, I assumed it’d be one of those flat and right down next to the water and beaches type of experiences. I got a surprise. It’s not like that at all. It’s higher up and above the water and, for much of the time, in the woods. It also was a far from level trail, though no matter which end you start from, you’ll get your hardest uphill out of the way early. I’ve hiked it both ways and prefer starting at the Freeman Creek end.

As you hike the trail, you’ll go from areas of reservoir views to just hiking in the woods,. My favorite views mixed several colors and textures: tan rocks below the high water line but above the water, the shimmering blue-green reservoir, white puffy clouds in the blue sky and the dark green trees on the surrounding hillsides. I also liked the many places where the rock areas near the water looked like staircases disappearing into the reservoir.

At the Freeman end, you see the end of the inlet that begins with Canyon Creek, another place along the reservoir with a trail, albeit a short and easy one (hike 12). When you’re within 3 or 4 miles of Big Eddy, you can see the top of the dam that holds back all that water you’ve been walking along plus a lot more water that you can’t see.

But my favorite spots along the way are in the woods. The stream crossing are mostly there, complete with rustic bridges that add to the charm of the trail. In one drainage, the stream had, over geologic time, shaped a large boulder so that it contained a small waterfall and pool. At Freeman Creek, which empties into the reservoir at the tip of a deep inlet, there’s a cool, shady spot with pools, falls and rocks, and the north-facing hillside beside it is soft yellow-green with moss. Another place has a series of tree sections alongside. Perhaps they are for decoration or, perhaps, for walking on should the trail be wet. But I think it’s the former, since the trail was pretty wet in other places when I walked, and not wet enough to detour onto the tree sections. Finally, there’s a neat, dark glade tucked away in one corner, with a couple of large cedar as sentinels.

Trail Notes: If you want to do the entire 10 miles, I suggest taking two vehicles and leaving one at each end of the trail. But do note that the trail also is quite enjoyable for shorter jaunts out of either trailhead or from one of the several campgrounds at the water’s edge.

Directions: To reach Big Eddy, take route 7 out of Orofino, turn right at the sign for Dworshak, and turn off this road at the sign for Big Eddy. To reach Freeman Creek, stay on 7 until you turn onto Road P1. It’s 21 miles, by road, from the dam to Freeman Creek.

Information: Dworshak State Park, (208) 476-5994.

Maps: USGS Ahsahka, Idaho.