Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands Proposed National Monument Area Hikes

Big Jacks Creek
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Climb: gentle
Difficulty: easy
Usage: very light
Location: Exit State Highway 78 2 miles west of Bruneau and merge south onto State Highway 51. Proceed 25 miles to the junction for Wickahoney Road and bear west (right). Continue 5 miles to a junction with a bumpy dirt road and turn north (right). Drive 3 miles along this road to a Y intersection, then proceed left and follow the road to its end at the trailhead.

Hikers will travel into isolation on this trail that winds through a remote rhyolite canyon. Surrounded by rugged canyon walls, needles, and pinnacles, hikers are likely to encounter numerous bighorn sheep, antelope, bats, and raptors. From the trailhead, descend 1.5 miles to the scenic Big Jacks Creek. Here, hikers can opt to return to the trailhead, or proceed upstream or downstream. Traveling downstream brings hikers to the canyon’s end, while traveling upstream carries visitors deeper into Big Jacks Canyon. For those continuing onward in search of exits from Big Jacks Creek into other area canyons, caution and expert map-reading skills are urged. No water is available, and falls in these canyons often prove fatal. Best months for hiking are May, June, and October.

Bald Mountain Ridge and Surrounding Area
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip to Bald Mountain Ridge Saddle; 3.5 miles roundtrip to Bald Mountain Summit; 5.5 miles roundtrip to West Fork Shoofly Canyon overlook
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: very light
Location: Locate State Highway 78 south of Grandview. Proceed east for 1.5 miles before bearing south onto the well-marked Owyhee Uplands National Backcountry Byway (Mud Flat Road). Pass the Oreana intersection and Poison Creek picnic area, locating the trailhead parking area across from Fall Creek at the 22.2-mile mark.

This trail offers hikers a remote look at spectacular canyon scenery as well as panoramic overviews of distant mountains and sagebrush covered deserts. Begin by hiking south and climbing a northern slope leading to a ridge between Poison and Shoofly Creeks. From the ridge, continue uphill toward the Bald Mountain ridgeline. Two saddles will appear, but follow the faint trail leading to the eastern saddle. This trail leads to Bald Mountain Ridge and breathtaking views of Rough Mountain, Poison and Birch Creeks, and the Snake River Plain. Best months for hiking are April through late May and October.

Optional Hikes: From the ridge, continue hiking southwest 1.5 miles to the summit of Bald Mountain. While hiking to the summit, the Jarbidge, Independence, and Santa Rosa Mountains rise on the horizon.

An additional canyon hike begins at the Bald Mountain saddle. Hike southeast to the West Fork of Shoofly Creek. Visitors will discover red cliffs as well as an overlook into Shoofly Canyon.

Bruneau Dunes State Park
Distance: 5 mile loop; 2 mile loop; 1 mile loop
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate for long loop; easy for shorter loops
Usage: heavy
Location: From Mountain Home, drive 15.6 miles south on State Highway 51 before merging east onto State Highway 78. On Highway 78, proceed 1.8 miles to the marked road leading to Bruneau Dunes State Park. The 5 mile loop trailhead is found at the Visitor Center’s northwest corner. The trailhead for the 2 mile loop is at the Big Dune Picnic Area, and the observatory at Observatory Picnic Area provides access to the 1 mile loop.

Contained within a 4,640-acre state park, these trails wind through hot, desert hiking conditions, but lead visitors to the tallest sand dunes in North America. To take a 5 mile trek, head south from the visitor center, following the white and red trailposts to a marshy area. After circling around the marsh and reaching Big Dune (the area’s tallest dune), hike between the dunes and two lakes to reach the lakes’ isthmus. From here, drop down off the dunes and head to the Observatory Picnic Area. For the 2-mile loop, follow the obvious trail from Big Dune Picnic Area. After climbing Big Dune, hike to the lakes’ isthmus and drop back down to the picnic area. The 1-mile loop, appropriate for small children and families, heads northeast from the observatory. After walking across a grassy area, locate a well-marked trail leading around the small lake and back to the Observatory Picnic Area. Best months for hiking are March through May and September through November. Visitors should be prepared to pay a $2.00 entrance fee and should not bring dogs along the hikes as the sand can burn animals’ feet. Water, sunscreen, and insect repellant should be carried at all times, and caution should be used while swimming in the lakes as flatworm larva is present.

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