From the Dent Bridge, Along Dworshak


Why? Quiet woods, views of Dworshak Reservoir, and only one hour from Lewiston.

Season: March through December usually is snow-free

Ease: Moderate, with little elevation gain over the 4 miles of trail

The trail from the Dent Bridge to just past the Cold Creek group campground is truly a fine woods walk. It stays up above the reservoir throughout, and far enough back from the water so that the hike feels separate from Dworshak rather than just an add on – something that can be enjoyed on its own, even if reservoirs aren’t your favorite thing.

In the spring, the trail traverses a green, green place: moss, the beginnings of the low understory, new leaves on bushes and trees, even the filtered light. With some flowers, of course, including calypso orchids, a favorite that I don’t see often enough. When I remarked that I usually didn’t see them in bunches, my hiking buddy told me she usually saw them that way. Lucky lady.

In the fall, which was when I first hiked this trail, I loved it because I got to walk through leaves, something I’ve enjoyed ever since I first found out what a fine noise they make. It was a day that reminded me just how difficult it can be for hikers to cede the countryside to hunters each October. The weather was dry and clear, the sky bright blue, the water calm and reflective of all. Even the many feet of dried mud bank on the reservoir seemed attractive, like steps beckoning the bottom dwellers to come up from the water and into the woods. Add the golden larches and colorful maples against the dark green foliage, and it’s a hard combo to beat.

I saw deer, toad, grouse, a mixed group of chickadees – chestnut backed and mountain – and osprey. I also saw pit toilets.

I can’t think of any place else I’ve hiked besides the levee paths that offers restroom facilities along way. Now I’m not talking fancy here, just pit toilets. But it is rather disconcerting, as well as somewhat handy, to be walking a lovely, wooded path and spy an outhouse up ahead.

The trail passes near or through four campgrounds, which of course explains the pit toilets. It also passes near enough to the high water mark in at least one spot that on a hot summer day, a diversionary visit to the water wouldn’t be difficult.

The trail is similar to a river trail in that it’s relatively level, but with more ups and downs than you think it should have. It’s well maintained, at least by fall, and easy to follow. In the spring, there probably would be a few downed trees.

Note: The name “Dent” comes from early settler and first postmaster Charles Dent.

Directions: Turn left just after you cross the Clearwater River heading into Orofino, then take a quick right onto the road to the Dent Bridge. Stay on the road for almost 15 miles, until just before you reach the bridge. The trailhead is well signed, at the end of the drainage on the left.

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

Maps: USGS Dent, Idaho