Idaho Trails: Hiking winter trails in the summer

On Saturday, Julie Painter hikes along the Tyro Loop trail near Kelly Canyon by following the blue diamond-shaped markers meant to guide cross-country skiers during the winter.

There was a turkey feather lying in the middle of the trail we were hiking on Saturday near Kelly Canyon. I reached down and picked it up and showed it to my dog Sunny. He started nibbling on it. His motto is eat first, determine if it is edible, later.

“How do you know it’s a turkey feather?” my wife, Julie, asked.

“This is what they look like and I know they live around here,” I said. I told her about seeing several turkeys during the winter while cross-country skiing here.

A few minutes later, a huge bird flew overhead. It was a turkey.

I’m giving Julie credit for the idea of Saturday’s outing.

She’s still recovering from a busted up arm and wanted a half-day or less hiking outing that wasn’t too taxing.

“What if we hiked some of those winter cross-country ski trails at Kelly Canyon?” She suggested.

It turned out to be a brilliant idea.

First of all, it was Memorial Day weekend — a time for half the state of Idaho and all their dogs to be crawling outside over the hills. We drove up to the Y Junction above the Kelly Canyon Ski Area and parked alongside several other vehicles. But instead of heading down the same dusty trails as everyone else, we started hiking the Tyro Loop Trail behind the Forest Service kiosk.

In the winter, the cross-country ski trails are marked with plastic blue diamond-shape markers nailed to trees on trails about 8 or 9 feet off the ground. Guess what? The markers are still there in the summertime. The trails are less defined, though.

It was at times like semi-bushwhacking through the forest. It reminded me of following the marked poles designating the Hell’s Half Acre Lava Trail, only instead of miles of lava rock, blue diamonds marked the trail/route through the forest. It helped to have skied the trail in the winter to have a general idea of where it went.

“I think this trail could get harder to follow as the vegetation gets taller in summer,” Julie said. We followed the trail to the Tyro Vista. Along the way we took a couple of side trails “to see where they go” and discovered paths that led down to the roads. Twice, the side trails led to the road where we bumped into people camping.

On the trails we took, we saw no one, except once. Deep in forest off the Tyro Vista trail, an ATV and rider came crashing through the woods off trail. When he saw us, he turned around and drove away. He was where he wasn’t supposed to be and didn’t expect to run into anyone.

“Just because you have the ability to do it, doesn’t mean you should,” I told Julie when she asked what the guy was doing.

We also hiked up the winter snowshoe trail called Glen’s Grunt and walked over to the Hidden Vista near Morgan Summit. On the way up Glen’s Grunt, we passed a few patches of snow. Sunny ate mouthfuls — pine needles and all — and briefly lay in the snow to cool off.

While some of the winter ski trails become mountain biking, dirt biking and hiking trails in the summer in the Kelly Canyon area, some, such as the Tyro Loop, go fallow until the snow returns.

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This Friday evening postpone your other weekend parties and join a huge citywide bike party.

At 6 p.m. show up on your bicycle (bring the whole family) at the Bonneville County Courthouse, 605 Capital, and join the mayors of Idaho Falls, Ammon, Iona and Ucon for a bike tour around the greenbelt.

On the 6-mile tour around the greenbelt, there will be opportunities to stop and talk about future developments for the greenbelt. Tour guides will be Greg Weitzel, Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation director and Dave Wilding, of Dave’s Bike Shop. Ice cream from Farr’s will be provided to spoil all the kids’ dinner.

Sounds like a great opportunity to dust off your cruiser bikes and join the fun. Should be a nice crowd — some estimates I’ve heard are in the 300 people range.

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