If you Google “Trail Creek Road,” you’ll find several intriguing posts: “Central Idaho’s Best Shortcut,” and a YouTube video titled, “Our terrifying drive through Trail Creek Road – Idaho.” The trip from Ketchum to Phi Kappa campground is a great backcountry adventure, taking the traveler up a winding dirt and gravel road to Trail Creek Summit (elevation 7,896 feet) and then slowly down the other side following beautiful Summit Creek.

Trail Creek Road is a shortcut to places like Challis and Mackay along Route 93 in the Lost River drainage, cutting about 40 miles off the route through Stanley.

This short 15-mile drive features some of the best mountain scenery in the area and access to quiet picnicking, hiking and camping spots. Th ose with off-road capabilities will enjoy side trips on the many jeep roads in the Pioneer Mountains. Phi Kappa Mine is particularly interesting, involving a narrow twisting climb up to the old
mine. Trail Creek Road continues on to more places to explore, like Hyndman Peak (12,009 feet), Copper Basin or Idaho’s tallest peak, Mt. Borah (12,662 feet). This trip is not about the destination, but about the exploration (Mt. Borah is an additional 41 miles).

Sun Valley Road continues northeast out of Ketchum and Sun Valley, past the Ernest Hemingway Memorial, becoming Trail Creek Road. Trail Creek Road is closed from about November 1 (or fi rst snow) until May 1 when road crews clear the winter snow and avalanche damage.

There are no services available on this trip, so pack a lunch and lots of water. Pit toilets may be found at Forest Service campgrounds. The road is passable by automobile but is not RV-friendly.

Additional information may be obtained from the Ketchum Ranger
District at 208-622-5371.

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