Large wildlife species like deer, elk, bear, and moose have also been spotted by
observant trail users in this area, although the biggest critters we've seen in
the lower canyon area are deer. I'm a bit disappointed I haven't seen any moose
or elk since we were in the Bighorns in June -- and no bears so far this
There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Wasatch-Bear River Range of
northeastern Idaho. Many of them have trailheads in Logan Canyon.
If you visit the area, the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau has another brochure
you should pick up, read online, or
download: its Hiking Trail Guide.
The guide has descriptions and maps of almost two dozen trails in the Logan
Ranger District. Some of the trails are for foot travel only;
equestrians and mountain bikers may also use some of them when the trails are
Locations of some of the trailheads in the Logan Ranger
[Note that the descriptions of difficulty ("steep," e.g.) of
the trails in this guide are for average
hikers who may or may not be acclimated to altitudes of 5,000-9,000 feet. They
should be easier for
well-trained and/or altitude-acclimated runners and hikers. We've been at
higher altitudes all summer so these more moderate altitudes barely
affect our breathing rate. And degrees of steepness? Let's just say that
my perspective was forever readjusted after running and hiking the
Appalachian Trail . . . what I used to consider "steep" is now
Trail distances range from 1+ to 24+ miles one way, although you can string some
of them together to go much farther. A few of the trails in the guide are on
the Bear 100 course, which I talked about in the
In this entry I'll describe several trails that can be accessed from the
lower end of Logan Canyon..
TRAILS RIGHT OUT OUR DOOR
first entry about Logan Canyon I described the campground where we
chose to stay for our first five nights in this area,
It is one of at least nine forest service campgrounds along the Logan
Canyon National Scenic
Byway and located about five miles from the
mouth of the canyon on the east side of the city of Logan, Utah.
We quickly found that one of the benefits to staying in this campground is
its proximity to several interesting hiking and multi-use trails that were fun
to run and hike on our easier training days. First I'll
give a general description of five of them, then show photos I took while
running and hiking on two of them.
- The trailhead for both the Riverside
Nature Trail (#2 on map above) and Crimson
Trail (#4) is about 200 feet from our
campsite. Both trails extend from Guinavah Campground to Spring
Hollow Campground. Crimson goes up higher, branching off Riverside in moderately steep
ascents or descents from either end. Both trails are for pedestrians only. I'll go into more detail about the 1.5-mile Riverside
Nature Trail below.
- The Crimson Trail (3 miles one way) is steep and skirts the upper edge of a huge
band of limestone known as the China Wall, formed over millions of years from
the sediment that was once the bed of an ancient tropical sea. Its elevation
ranges from 5,200-6,000 feet.
- Wind Caves Trail (2 miles out, 2 back, #3 on trailhead map above) is catty-cornered across the road
from the Guinavah Campground entrance; it is a steep trail that takes visitors
up to 6,000 feet in elevation to a delicate triple arch and natural cave (AKA Witch's Castle) formed
in a limestone outcropping by wind and water erosion.
This trail is also for foot travel only.
I haven't hiked up to the formations yet. I took
these photos from the Riverside Nature Trail on the other side of the Logan River:
Above and below: view of Wind Cave from
across the Logan River
- At the end of the Riverside Trail you can access the
River Trail (#1 on
trailhead map above), which
follows the Logan River downstream for about four miles from Spring Hollow
Campground to the Canyon Entrance Park at the edge of town. The elevation
ranges from 4,900 feet to 5,400 feet. This is a multi-use trail for walkers,
runners, and cyclists. I don't believe equestrians can use it, but they have
trails farther up the canyon that they can use.
Out and back from
our campsite on the River and Riverside Nature Trails is about 11½ miles, but neither of
us went the whole distance along the river this week. Jim measured 8½ miles
out and back on them this morning; he turned before reaching the end at
First Dam and the Canyon Entrance Park.
I'll show photos
from both of these trails in just a bit.
BONNEVILLE SHORELINE TRAIL
There is another trail that can be accessed
from the Canyon Entrance Park: the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This one
interests me for reasons that will soon become clear.
During the last Ice Age, the Cache Valley (and
beyond) was filled with a huge freshwater lake that was 348 miles long and 145
miles wide. It is known as Bonneville Lake. Remains of 15,000-year-old wooly
mammoths, musk oxen, camels, and prehistoric bison have been found along the
Bonneville Shoreline Trail for hikers and mountain bikers attempts
to follow the original "bench" along the shoreline. When completed, this trail will extend more than
280 miles from central Utah to the Idaho border. Only about 90 miles of
designated BST are open in various segments shown in green at the website link
above. This is a photo from the website home page that shows a section of trail
but it doesn't identify the location:
In the Logan area, the trail only
extends about 1.5 miles from Green Canyon to First Dam. Blue trails are
connectors that aren't yet officially part of the BST. Red trails are proposed.
As the website says, it's a work in progress. I don't see a proposed finish
Obviously, I'm curious if I'll ever be able to
do a journey run or hike on the whole thing! And I wonder if there will ever be
a Bonneville Trail 100- (or 200-) mile ultra marathon??
Meanwhile, out of these five trails, the only
ones that Jim and I have explored so far are the River and Riverside trails. I
want to check out the others when we come back in a few days.
RIVERSIDE NATURE TRAIL
The Riverside Nature Trail starts out rocky and narrow at Guinavah Campground and quickly gains
about 150 feet in elevation as it
parallels the river heading west. I took this photo about 1/4 mile from the
trailhead. Our campsite is about a hundred yards to the right of this sturdy
campground bridge across the Logan River:
Elevations along the Riverside Nature Trail range from 4,900 to 5,400 feet. The trail
switchbacks down to the river's edge and then gradually widens and
becomes more smooth for
about 3/4 mile before reaching Spring Hollow Campground.
Jim and I have both run this trail out and back on two different days.
The photos in this entry are from both days. We saw very few people on
the Riverside Nature Trail on Friday morning, partly because local kids
went back to school this week and college classes have also begun. This
weekend morning both trails were busy on either side of Spring
Hollow Campground with people walking, running, and fishing (plus
cycling on the River Trail).
The sign and map at the beginning of the trail (above) indicates that it is good for
families. Not only is it a fairly easy trail for children to hike, it is also
There are about a dozen stations along the way that explain various
components of the riparian ecosystem. For example, a sign near the spot below describes how
important the grasses and willows along the water's edge are to holding the
banks as well as providing shade and cover to fish and mammals like moose:
is mostly shaded with thick trees and shrubs. This time of year it's a very
green place. In the next photo, even the river (on the left) looks green! You'd
think the trail would be "buggy" with all this water and vegetation but I
didn't notice any annoying gnats, mosquitoes, flies, or other bugs when I was
walking and running along the river, even here.
The trail has several wooden bridges across creeks and wet areas,
Hmm . . . I wonder if Jim or Sue would
mind if I jumped into that pool of green algae ??
and several places where it passes close to large rock formations several
below the China Wall:
Although there are a couple of vantage points at the higher elevations on
this trail where you can get scenic glimpses of nearby mountains,
the best unobstructed views are from the river's
edge as the trail get closer to Spring Hollow Campground:
My favorite area along the Riverside Nature Trail is the lake/wetlands area,
shown above and below, that is formed by the Second Dam just below Spring
Hollow Campground. The trail is close to the river's edge here:
The Riverside Nature Trail ends in the Spring Hollow
Campground. It's a little tricky to find your way through the campground the
first time, but there are roads and paths that connect it on the other side
with the River Trail that extends another four miles to the edge of the city of
The River Trail begins on the western side of
Spring Hollow Campground. It is wider, smoother, and flatter than the Riverside
Nature Trail. It follows the
Logan City water line gradually downhill toward town. You definitely notice
that it is a relentless uphill, however, on the way back to
I'm not sure of the distance. The hiking guide referenced above says it's 3.7
miles one way and the same organization's Guide to the Logan Canyon National
Scenic Byway says it's 4.2 miles. The latter may count the distance
through the campground to reach the Riverside Nature Trail. We'll measure it
when we come back.
The River Trail seems to be as popular with mountain bikers as it is with runners
and hikers. It is much more heavily used than the Riverside Nature Trail
because it is closer to town, has five entry/exit points along the scenic
byway, and is easier to negotiate. Although it is close to the heavily traveled
scenic byway, the hiking guide claims traffic is not visible for most of its
There are three dams along the length of the River Trail, between it and the
scenic byway. Logan City has been producing its own electrical power from the
plant at Second Dam since the early 1900s. Third Dam lies just below Spring
The Logan Canyon booklet says that trout are stocked in the water at Second
Dam. I don't know if they are stocked at Third Dam, above, but there sure were
a lot of people fishing along the half mile of trail between it and Spring
The wetlands on this side of Spring Hollow are just as beautiful as those on
the other side.
As you'd imagine, the marshy areas on either side of Spring Hollow
Campground are full of fish and
other wildlife: ducks, geese, songbirds, numerous species of small
mammals, deer, and moose.
They are popular spots for anglers of all ages, too.
Both times I ran and hiked the two river trails I had to watch Cody
carefully to be sure he didn't jump into the water near any anglers. They
wouldn't appreciate a dog scaring away their fish!
When we come back I'll add more information in another entry
about these and other trails that we explore in the Logan Canyon
and other parts of the Wasatch-Bear River Range.
Next entry: uninvited guests
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil