North Fork Deer Creek Trail #157: Open and cut-out in mid summer 2017. Deer Creek Road is gated closed to four-wheeled traffic west of its intersection with Wolftone Road. Deer Creek Road repairs, and other road and trails repairs, are underway in the drainage. Proceed with caution and watch for hazards and crews at work.
At this time, perhaps one of the best ways to access to this trail is from Greenhorn Gulch, or from the Poison Flats side. From Greenhorn, depart the Greenhorn Trailhead and ride up the Greenhorn Trail #156 to Howard's Trail. Take Howard's Trail to the North Fork of Deer Creek Trail #157.
The trail was rebuilt and reopened by the Ketchum Ranger District in the summer of 2016. Then we had a big winter, and a resulting heavy springtime run off. Deer Creek and its tributaries flooded causing road, trail, and facilities damage. Much of the 2016 trail work held up well and many areas that were damaged have been repaired. Some work remains underway on area roads and trails. Proceed with caution and watch for hazards and for crews at work.
The trail was cutout by area motorcycle rider volunteers earlier this summer (2017), but wind events may have brought down additional trees since then.
Generally speaking, the trails in the Deer Creek drainage are not for the faint of heart, the less experienced, or the ill-prepared. While still considered a "front-country" experience by many, the trails are rather deep in, and somewhat removed from things like cell phone service. You may want to think of the area as typifying a more backcountry-type experience, to help you as you make preparations for a visit, and for your safe return out.
Be mindful that portions of your route will be through burned areas. Beware of falling trees, rolling rocks, and flash floods. Watch the weather and stay out if the forecast indicates a likelihood of stormy weather or high winds. Watch for hazards.
(Note: Deer Creek Road is presently (Aug. 2017) gated closed west of its intersection with Woplftone Road. Work on Deer Creek Road west of the gated closure is ongoing, so if traveling west of the gate on foot of bike or horse watch for hazards and crews at work.
Directions - From Highway 75 and Deer Creek Road, travel west on Deer Creek Road for 8 miles to the gated closure of Deer Creek Road. If you are arriving by car or truck, turn left onto Wolftone Road to find parking on the left, just a bit further up. When parking, do not block access to any other road or trail in the area, and consider that others who may follow you in may need to turn around and find a place to park as well. Try to make room for others to maneuver. If you are pulling a trailer in, the turn-around room in the area is only okay. If there are lots of other vehicles already parked in the area (rarely happens) it may be a bit tricky finding a place to turn around. You may want to stop at Panther Gulch on your way in. There, you can drop your trailer, then drive in to check on space for turning around. Or you can just park at Panther and ride in from there. From whereever you might park, pass around the locked gate near the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Wolftone Road. Proceed up Deer Creek Road, then take a right on North Fork Deer Creek Road and proceed up to its terminus at a parking/trailhead area and the start of the North Fork Deer Creek Trail.
The notes about accessing the trails in Deer Creek seen below applied to conditions before the area flooded in the spring of 2017.)
Accessing the trails in Deer Creek takes some effort. Deer Creek Road starts out pretty nice, but depending on when it was last graded, and the time of the year it was last graded, it can get pretty rough. As you get deeper in, the road narrows, and there are a lot of blind corners that you need to approach slowly. It takes a while to get in and out, but if it isn't the high-summer season, or hunting season, the area can be relatively quiet, and somewhat less traveled.
The North Fork Deer Creek Trail #157 is a Deer Creek classic that can be used for tying together a number of area trails. Hikers and runners often use the trail for an out-and-back trip. Mountain bikers like to connect the North Fork Deer Creek Trail #157 to the more technical Deer Creek Trail #158 for a great 11-mile loop. Most consider the preferred direction of travel to be clockwise, descending on the more technically demanding Deer Creek Trail #158, but others like to descend on the North Fork, so choose your poison.
The lower portions of the trail include several longer areas of loose, finer rock, and some steady, long grades. The trail's turns are challenging when approached from below. Strong cyclists measure themselves by seeing if they can "clean them," and not dab a foot down. As the trail nears its high point the climbing gets easier.
Many sections of the trails in the Deer Creek region offer technical challenges with some areas of high-consequence should one make a mistake. The North Fork Deer Creek Trail is one of the less technically demanding trails in the drainage, but even it includes some exciting challenges.
Directions: At the intersection of Hwy 75 and Deer Creek Road, take the paved Deer Creek Road west. (This intersection is about 2 miles north of Hailey, and about 9 miles south of Ketchum). Travel safely and slowly through the neighborhood to cross the bridge over the Big Wood River and proceed out the drainage.
From the highway its about 10 miles out Deer Creek Road to its intersection with the North Fork Road #103. (Deer Creek Road turns to gravel/dirt about 3 miles west of the highway.) At the North Fork Road #103 you can turn right to drive about a mile up to the top end of the North Fork Road to park at the start of the North Fork Trail, or keep straight to follow Deer Creek Road for less than 1/2 mile to its end at the start of the Deer Creek Trail. There are small parking areas at the end of each road, with a small picnic area and a vault toilet at the end of Deer Creek Road.
For those pulling a small trailer the recommended parking at this time (Sept., 2016) is at the end of Deer Creek Road, but even this area is limited in size, and it's rather poorly laid out for getting rigs turned around. Another place to park is near the intersection of Deer Creek Road and North Fork Deer Creek Road. There are some wide spots near this intersection; primarily, just north of it, on the east side of North Fork Road #103. Improvements are in the works, with plans for the main Deer Creek area trailhead to be constructed at the top end of the North Fork Road #103.
*For additional descriptions, topo maps, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers of the Wood River Valley pick up a copy of Exploring Sun Valley online or find it at one of several local shops.