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Descending the trail from its high intersection with the Greenhorn Trail makes for a fast, bumpy trip over a lot of small-scale terrain changes. The trail is good for out-and-backs, forming loops with trails in the Deer Creek drainage, and for the many other useful connections it allows.
The low end of the trail is in the Deer Creek drainage. The area was severely impacted by the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire, but the trails in the drainage are nearly all rebuilt. Trails and roads in the drainage were impacted heavily again in the winter and spring of 2017. Heavy snows brought down loads of trees and springtime flooding damaged the area's roads and trails. Many repairs are complete, but some are still ongoing. Trail users should watch for hazards, work crews, and equipment.
During the 2013 Beaver Creek fire, over 70 percent of the Deer Creek drainage burned. This was followed by torrential storms and flooding in the spring of 2014. The resulting damage to the natural and man-made components of the drainage was stunning. The area was ravaged and required a multi-year, significant rebuilding effort by the Forest Service and the local community. From 2015 to 2018, the Ketchum Ranger District rehabilitated the floodplain, restored wildlife habitat, rebuilt 20 dispersed campsites, installed trailhead facilities at two locations, and relocated 3,500 feet of forest road. They planted over 20,000 native plants and are treating the area for noxious weeds. They also rebuilt 28 miles of single-track trails in Deer Creek. These rebuilt trails form important connections to the vast system of trails found to the north of the drainage.
In total, Deer Creek restoration costs neared $1.6 million. Funding for this massive effort was largely mobilized by the 5B Restoration Coalition, a grassroots community alliance of diverse interests that strives to bring the Wood River community together to restore and enhance our lands and natural assets. Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife Program, a tax-payer levy program, contributed $496,000 to the Deer Creek restoration efforts. This significant contribution provided leverage for additional funding including $188,000 from the National Forest Foundation, who is also the facilitator of the 5B Restoration Group. For more information about the 5BRC visit this web site: 5B Restoration Coalition
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. The road surface changes to rough gravel after about 3 miles. The road gets narrower with some blind corners as you drive further west.
From the highway it is about 8 miles out Deer Creek Road to its intersection with Wolftone Road. Just west of this intersection the Deer Creek Road is gated closed to four-wheeled vehicles. One can pass around the locked gate to proceed west on Deer Creek Road on foot, bike, or horseback. For parking near the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Wolftone Road, turn left/south onto Wolfone Road. There is room to park a few vehicles on the left - just a little ways up the Wolftone Road. Don't block the road or any other road in the area. To reach Howard's Trail from this area proceed west on Deer Creek Road, passing by the locked gate on foot, bike, or horseback. When you reach the North Fork Deer Creek Road turn right/north up the North Fork Road to its end at a parking area/trailhead area and the low end of the North Fork Deer Creek Trail #157. Follow the North Fork Deer Creek Trail for about 0.7 mile to the start of the low end of Howard's Trail. Stay right to start up Howard's.
*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.