O’Hara Creek


Forest Service Trail #713

Why? Relatively easy, short, good leg stretcher.

Season: May through November

Ease: Easy

The hike along O’Hara is a mixed bag, a pleasant walk in the woods with some minor navigational difficulties. There are a few fine, large cedar along the way, especially when the trail gets down to the level of the creek. Though the underbrush is overgrown in spots, it’s mostly green ferns with a few thimbleberry and horsetail.

I particularly like a couple of snags that mark the end of the hikeable part of the trail. They’re on an island about 2 miles in. They’re old, rugged and almost hollow, probably burned out many years ago. Each has holes in it through which you can see the sky.

Though relatively easy, this is not the easiest trail I’ve ever hiked. Not because of the grade, which is gentle, but because it doesn’t appear to be well used. Sometimes it was hard to find the tread under the overgrown brush, especially in the fall. Sometimes the trail was narrow because it was losing its downhill edge. And trail on both sides of most stream crossings never seemed to quite match up, though they always were findable.

I think I’d classify the trail as a good spot to warm up or to stretch tired muscles if you’ve hiking other spots along the Selway, or a good spot for a short Sunday morning outing before heading home. Most of the big trees are before the first stream crossing, so it could be super short if necessary.

Note: There’s a campground at the junction of O’Hara Creek and the Selway, as well as a self-guided tour of the first mile of the creek. The tour covers parts of a stream restoration project that started in the late 1980’s and was aimed at repairing damage done by logging and road building. The goal of the project was to create an equal mix of riffles and pools, a healthy environment for fish to live and spawn in. You can walk the tour or drive it, stopping at the six interpretive sites along the way. There are handouts describing the tour at the sign near the junction of the bridge and campground road.

Some trails seem friendly right from the start. Others don’t. But only a couple have made me feel like I’d walked into a Gary Larson cartoon. One of those was this trail, and the Larson cartoon I have in mind is the one where a spider has build a web across the bottom of a playground slide. A large child is ready to slide down. The spider says to his buddy something like “If this works, I’m set for life.”
It felt like that spider and a bunch of his buddies had preceded me up O’Hara. There were webs everywhere, though I seldom saw the spiders that had spun them. The same thing has happened a couple other times when I’ve hiked a little-used, brushy trail early in the day.

O’Hara Creek was named for Pat O’Hara, a prospector who had a mining claim on the creek in the 1880s.

Directions: Turn right off Highway 12 just shy of mile marker 97 onto the road up the Selway River. Turn right onto Road 651 at O’Hara Creek, 7 miles in. The trailhead is on the left 4 miles up that road. There’s room for a car or two to park off the road.

Information: Fenn Ranger Station, NPNF, (208) 926-4258.

Map: USGS Goddard Point, Idaho.