Thunder Creek, Shedroof Divide & Shedroof Cutoff — Monday, Jun. 6, 2016
The Thunder Creek Loop is one of my all-time favorite dayhikes (or backpack approaches) on the Salmo Priest Wilderness. It's easy to get to via FS roads that even a passenger car should be able to manage, and the two trailheads that form the entry & exit to the loop are within a half-mile walk of each other. There are also several free dispersed camping sites nearby. For this trip, we picked one of the free dispersed sites within easy walking distance of our chosen starting location, the Thunder Creek trail. This trail begins on an old roadbed in an old clearcut, but enters the forest in approximately 2 miles. There are several failed & failing puncheon bridges within the first mile of the forested section, at least one of which will likely be a WTA work site later this summer. My main goal for this hike was to check out the location and get information about what will need to be done here. But once that was accomplished, it seemed like a lot more fun to hike the rest of the loop rather than do an out-and-back! The trail enters the Wilderness at approximately the 3.5 mile mark. It's a steady climb up Thunder Creek to the Shedroof Divide. We saw huckleberries in bloom, great old cedar trees, trilliums still in full bloom near the top, and bear grass in bloom near the Shedroof intersection. The good news is that the trail has been logged out to the wilderness boundary, but the crew hasn't had a chance to get beyond that yet. Last year's windstorms hit this area very hard, so expect a lot of downfall along the route. There is good access to water near the Thunder Creek intersection with the Shedroof Divide, and also near Thunder Mountain. We hiked the Divide trail to the intersection with the Shedroof Cutoff, taking that down and putting us back on the FS road about 1/2 mile from where we started. Then it was an easy hike back to the car, for an approximately 15-mile round-trip hike. I think it's a lovely dayhike, but there are several good camp spots for those who would prefer to make it a backpack trip. It also makes an alternate start/end for a longer version of the Salmo Loop (see my old trip report for it here: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report.2012-08-13.4237801751).