While the rest of Eastern Washington is still covered in ice and snow, cross the border into Idaho and descend into North America’s deepest canyon to find early wildflowers and regional history.
Begin your outing at Upper Pittsburg Landing (not to be confused with the nearby Lower Pittsburg Landing), and follow the Idaho side of the Snake Wild and Scenic River upstream. The trail stays close to the river. As you hike, watch for mule deer and bighorn sheep on the grassy slopes, and keep an eye on the trail for rattlesnakes sunning themselves. There are many places to stop and enjoy the view, but be careful where you sit—the drainages are sometimes home to poison ivy, and the beautiful bunch grass along the trail frequently conceals prickly pear cactus.
As the trail nears Kirkwood Ranch, it drops down a series of switchbacks and loses 300 feet of elevation in less than a half mile. The free campground is close to the shore of the river, and offers picnic tables and flush toilets (sometimes closed in the early spring). Choose a spot, pitch your tent, and then wander over to Kirkwood Ranch. The stream flowing through the ranch property provides water (bring your filter), and the 1952 Sterling Cabin serves as a free museum of local history. The 1925 Jordan House (once home to Len Jordan, former Idaho governor and U.S. senator) is occupied year-round by volunteer hosts who are happy to answer questions about the property.
Explore more of the area with a side hike up to Carson Mansion, located 0.7 mile upstream from Kirkwood Ranch. It was once the finest mansion Prohibition-era bootleg money could buy. Or hike another 2 miles past the ranch to Suicide Point, so named for a Native American legend of two star-crossed lovers who took their lives in a Romeo and Juliet fashion. Enjoy the view, but don’t get too close to the edge.
- 10.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 420 feet
- Highest Point
- 1,600 feet
Hiking Kirkwood Ranch
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 45.6354, -116.4808 Open in Google Maps