Lovely nature hike.
Distance: 5.25 miles round trip
Difficulty: easy with minimal elevation gain
Best season: April – October
We discovered this hike on Mary Aegerter’s website Hiking From Here. Mary was a professor of mine (more than a few years ago) and an avid hiker. If you are searching for a hike in the area, check out her website—she has lots of great ideas.
Mary nailed it when she said this trail is for “those who like woods walks with a lot of peace and quiet”. That is exactly what we found. Typically, I like a trail with grand views. There’s nothing better than a hike along a raging river or to a stunning high mountain lake. You won’t find any of that at Feather Creek. What you will find, however, is a peaceful stroll on a lovely nature trail. And you likely won’t see anyone else.
On a recent Saturday in mid-May, we wanted a hike that was close by and would be relatively short. It was a stormy weekend and we only had the morning before some severe weather was predicted to hit. Feather Creek had been on our radar as a close to home hike suitable for early or late season. Our expectation was that it would be a dull hike through the woods—it turned out to be an absolute delight.
We drove from our home in SE Washington to the tiny of town of Boville, Idaho east of Moscow. From there we made our way to the small Feather Creek Trailhead. Parking here is really just a large pullout in the road, barely deep enough for us to back the Jeep into. Only a few other cars could park here, but that wasn’t necessary. We wouldn’t see anyone on the trail and we were the only rig parked here at the end of our hike.
The trail immediately crossed Feather Creek on an old single lane bridge and then split. The trail to the left was very faint and we easily could have missed it. If you are starting the hike on a summer morning, I suggest you start by taking the trail to the left. You’ll start the hike in lovely open meadows and then finish in the cool shade of the woods during the heat of the day.
We decided to hike the trail counterclockwise and started by taking the fork to the right. A short distance later, the trail split again. This time we took the trail to the left- I believe the trail to the right was the longer loop which is popular with mountain bikers. A rough paper sign here said the longer trail is incomplete, but I’m not sure that’s true given reports that I’ve read on the web.
The trail began climbing immediately after the split and made an easy climb for a while. The trail was a narrow track, but of good tread and well maintained. The first half of the hike was through dense mixed forest with an abundance of gorgeous cedars towering to the sky. There were lots of mushrooms and quite a few strawberries in bloom. We saw several lady slippers (including a double header) as well as the usual mix of wildflowers.
At about 2.3 miles we reached another trail split. A faint makeshift sign directed us to the left.
A short distance later we crossed a stream on a nice foot bridge. There was a bench here and it would make a fine rest stop. A short distance later we reached another foot bridge and bench, although this bench had seen much better days.
While we enjoyed the first half of the trail, the second half was even better. The forest was a little less dense and the predominate trees shifted from cedar to Douglas fir and mixed pine.
The trail bottomed out along Feather Creek for the last mile or so. There trail paralleled the creek as it ran through lush meadows. This looked like a great place for spotting game if you were there early in the morning. We came upon a large beaver dam and many chewed trees.
By now, temperatures were dropping and dark, grey clouds were moving in—as were the mosquitoes. Fortunately we were within sight of the Jeep by then and were able to quickly take shelter. Our timing was perfect, the first drops of rain hit the windshield as we were pulling out of the trailhead.
We were both pleased we had finally tried this trail. We went into it knowing there were no views, so we weren’t disappointed there. We enjoyed seeing all the mushrooms and we were impressed by all the different species of trees. We spent much of the trail trying to identify them (neither of us are great at that, but we’re trying to improve). The trail had a little elevation gain and loss, but nothing significant. This would be a great shaded option on a hot summer’s day.
Directions to Feather Creek TH: From Boville, Idaho, drive north on highway 3 for 3.9 miles and turn left onto Road 377 signed for Feather Creek (the road isn’t well signed until you are turning onto it). Drive 0.9 miles on turn right onto road 789. Continue 1.7 miles to the trailhead parking (a small pullout on the left). The trailhead is signed and on the right side of the road.