Still plenty of outdoor fun to be had

A pair of day hikers observe a bull moose blocking the trail around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park during a fall hike. Fall can offer some of the best hiking of the year. (Jerry Painter photo)

The end of summer was like a hard slap to the face. But don’t let it push you to the couch to hibernate until next April.

Instead, I think it helps to see this time of year as spring in reverse. Remember how as spring approached we would think of 40 degrees as a nice day. When 50 degrees would hit, we’d almost be dancing in the streets. We still have plenty of those days left before serious winter arrives. So orient your outdoor thinking to those areas that first opened back in the spring.

First of all, areas below 7,500 feet in elevation are generally still good to go. That means most of the Big Hole Mountains and much of the Snake River Range. Valley and foothill trails are also still an option. If you don’t mind a few inches of snow, you can still venture into the higher trails.

So here are some specific ideas:

For mountain bikers, many of the trails in the Big Holes are still in good shape and should remain so until the next storm passes through. Southern exposed trails, such as the Sidewinder Trail, should be good for some time. One trail to explore before more snow flies is the Ashton to Tetonia rail trail. If you haven’t ridden this trail yet this year, now is a fine time. The trails in Pocatello’s City Creek system are also a good bet. Go when football games are playing at the nearby schools and you should have less traffic.

For hikers, think lower elevation. Of course all the desert trails, such as Hell’s Half Acre and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve are ideal this time of year, but many trails in the smaller ranges are also still in good shape. Sometimes it’s fun to see how high up in the Tetons you can hike before the snow gets too deep. The park service was reporting a foot of snow on the ground last week at Amphitheater Lake. Trails up Darby Canyon or to Alaska Basin offer good one-day adventures. Fall colors are just around the corner, so keep some of these trails on your list for colorful hikes.

For climbers, now is the time to go back to the crags that were too hot in mid-summer. Areas such as Pointless and South Park are now back in business. Box Canyon, Teddy Bear Cove and Massacre Rocks are also great destinations for weekend outings. If you’re still working on projects at the Fins (west of Howe), you can go during the first half of the day — when the sun is hitting it — to find decent temperatures. The Sunny Side of Ross Park in Pocatello is also a good bet. Most of these areas are good to go when temperatures are 45 degrees or above.

A few tips: It’s good to wear bright yellow/orange clothes this time of year to be seen by hunters. Dress in layers that can be easily stripped off and stuffed into a day pack. Days can start out frosty and warm up to toasty — it helps to be adaptable. Even though it’s getting cooler, you can still get a nasty sunburn, so use sunscreen. Throw a headlamp in your pack because with less daylight, it’s easier to be caught out in the dark. When all else fails, drive to southern Utah or Nevada and start your summer all over again.

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