Fish Creek


Forest Service Trail #2240

Why? Fine late spring and early fall hike with great rock formations.

Season: April or May through November.

Ease: Moderate hike to Obia Cabin 4 ½ miles up the trail at Hungry Creek

The attractions of Fish Creek are many, especially the first 3 ½ miles or so of trail from the trailhead to Willow Creek. The creek itself is a delight, some of the rock formations make the hike worth doing on their own, the open hillsides cry out for animal sightings, and in season, there are abundant wildflowers. One year, I even found ripe huckleberries in June.

Like all river trails, the trail up Fish Creek is not flat, for there are ups and downs all along the way. But on this trail there are really only a couple of notable ups on the way in, and each gains barely 200 feet in elevation.

I admit it’s the rock along this trail that’s the biggest attraction for me. In many spots, there are cliffs and outcrops that are dissected in such a way as to suggest human construction. While they really are not regular enough to actually be the result of construction, they strike an incongruous note in what otherwise is the wild, unkempt outdoors. They draw the eye, for sure, and then the appreciation of what obviously is Mother Nature at work.

Some have colorful highlights, too, mostly I think from things growing on them – yellows and oranges and corals and greens. Under the water at Hungry Creek there are huge smooth, dark boulders that look like nothing more than the backs of submerged whales.

Once past Willow Creek, the trail is no longer near the water, and it passes through an area that offers little in the way of interesting rocks. It’s in the open, which can be nice or look dry and bare, depending on the time of year. The trail continues that way as far as Poker Creek, making for a very hot stretch if the sun is out.

The 4½ miles to the bridge crossing Hungry Creek and Obia Cabin make for a fine out and back day hike.

Trail Notes: The trail along Fish Creek is not maintained west of Ceanothus Creek.

Nature Note: One June, I identified 31 species of wildflowers in bloom along the trail. It’s the hike where I ate ripe huckleberries and strawberries, too. I’ve also seen some fine fungi along the way, including a large grouping of bright orange cup fungi.

Historical Note: Obia Cabin was built in 1935 to replace a cabin destroyed in the 1934 Pete King Burn. It was originally used by maintenance crews, then for game counting, then again for trail and telephone line crews. It was named for the creek’s original name, Obia Creek, which came from a group of hunters, one of whom was a Russian. The Russian found two cow elk at the creek and called out, “I got Obia,” meaning two.

Directions: Turn left off Highway 12 between mileposts 120 and 121, then drive about a mile up that road to its end and the trailhead.

Information: Lochsa Ranger District, CWNF, (208) 926-4274

Maps: USGS Huckleberry Butte and McLendon Butte, Idaho. Older maps and the signs at the trailhead list this as trail #224.

Connections: You also can make a circle hike out of this trail and that over Fish Butte. However, note that the circle requires crossing Fish Creek, something that might be very tricky until June or even later.