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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oregon Trail and the Kelton Ramp

Yesterday I needed a new place to hike and when the Boise National Forest visitor center informed me that anything north of Boise was still under "feet" of snow and trails were closed that left me stranded in the sunshine of the foothills again.  I'm just having a hard time acclimating to full sun and warmth every day, but it's amazing what a difference a dry heat really makes because you'd never catch me hiking in the middle of the day over 80F in the Midwest!

Oregon Trail wheel ruts
So, off I ventured to the Oregon Trail Historic Reserve where I could view the wheel ruts of the Oregon Trail and take a short walk out to the Kelton Ramp on one side of Hwy 21 and on the other side take a walk in the Oregon Trail Recreation area along the canyon rim through sagebrush and desert wildflowers.

Sagebrush plain in the Oregon Trail Recreation Area

Interpretive signs lined the trail in the Recreation Area, and supposedly trail marker for the Oregon Trail are there too but I missed those.  I was too busy keeping my eyes peeled for rattlesnakes!

I saw a few more varieties of wildflower here than I have seen elsewhere on my Boise walks.

Lambs Tongue Groundsel (I think!)

I also got a birds' eye view of the Diversion Dam which has been around since 1909, doing its job diverting water from the Boise River to be used by area farmers I assume.  From the parking lot to the dam and back again was about 1.5 miles.

Balsamroot above Diversion Dam

While the steep view of the dam was impressive, I had just as much fun checking out the Kelton Ramp on the other side of the highway.  So hard to really imagine what the emigrants to this area experienced on their journey west.  One of the signs said the most common form of death on the trail was due to cholera from unsafe drinking water.

The Kelton Ramp is part of the footpath that runs along the rim, and I was more than happy to walk  a mile roundtrip and get a look at this historic engineering effort.

A gentleman behind me was kind of enough to take a picture for me, and it turned out he worked for the Ridge to Rivers trails and was able to give me a hiking suggestion that might provide a bit of shade for Friday.  It's a good thing because I'm running out of sunblock!

Where the rock walls of the canyon were cut away lichen has taken the opportunity to grow.  The splashes of yellow and orange in the shade were enticing, but I was wary of stumbling upon a resting snake so kept to the path.

Back up on the rim I noticed another unusual flower and further investigation revealed it was native to the area though it seemed a little out of place.

Foothill Death Camas

All of the pictures were taken with my new iPhone and the only adjustments made were some dimming of the harsh highlights from the direct midday sun.  When I tried to zoom in on details I discovered it still has the problem of being too grainy even though I changed the settings to the highest quality.  It was a nice break to carry my phone on these two short hikes and just fill up on water back at the car, but since I love the clarity a DSLR provides I guess I'll still have to tote all my gear around sometimes!


  1. That's a steep old bank to get down let alone lower a waggon, they certainly went through a lot back then. No wonder they built the ramp.

  2. The Bird of Prey Center outside of Boise is worth a visit if you have the time.

  3. Death Camas and Rattlesnakes... not a good combination.
    Box Canyon

  4. Kinda neat to set foot on the old trail. Your outfit is certainly different from your last few posts in midwest!

  5. I love all things Oregon Trail!! I use to teach the trail trip to my much fun:)