The country south of Wallace, Idaho is old-school, Inland Northwest country. The trails are rugged, mixed use trails, where you are just as likely to encounter a moose or bear as you are a dirt-biker. The first few miles gains little elevation as it parallels Slate Creek and its attendant meadows. In the summer, flowers and braided creeks mix with gravel bars. Ridgelines tower over both sides of the valley.
Indigenous people have lived and used these lands for years, and others have laid down history here, too. As you wander up valley imagine the eras past of loggers and miners, and the people who were here when settlers arrived. Peaks have curious names like Fool Hen, Mastodon, and Bad Tom, eliciting visions of stories on how these came to be. Dam Creek might be another of questionable etymology or provenance.
There are no bridges in these parts and should you choose to venture past Dam Creek you will get your feet wet as the trail ambles back and forth across the drainage. Another few miles and the trail enters Elbow Gorge, a narrow and infrequently visited defile.
This gorge makes a ninety degree turn to the west before making a stout 1700 foot ascent in under two miles to the ridgeline above. All along this route are side trails to former fire lookouts and lonely ridges. Loops could be made for the adventurous and those not afraid of getting a little lost. Otherwise stick to the creek bottom and enjoy the flora and fauna. Look for mushrooms or wildflowers and relish the solitude.
WTA Pro Tip: Wallace, Idaho is a great town. It’s architecture is decidedly late 19th/early 20th century mining town. I-90 initially passed this town by in the 80s but this has blessed the town by retaining its charm.