Jules K. on Rapid River Trail
Just returned from soaking in this amazing pair of pools. The first pool/grotto is a warm spring that can seat 4 people very easy. There are some interesting acoustics that you will notice while enjoying this soak. You can also hear chirping of the bats that live in the cave.
The second pool is a genuine hot spring in a shelter. You actually get to soak in a tub carved out of an old pine log. There is only room for 2 in this one. The cabin is showing it's age so go soon before it is gone.
You will have to get across the beautiful Salmon river to enjoy this soak. If you look carefully to the north side of the river you can spot the remnants of the cable car. You want to aim for this when crossing the river. Get up to the cable car remains and follow the trail east (upstream), stick to the well worn trail and you will be there soon. Right after the steepest part of the trail you will be there.
I've hiked this loop numerous times and have always found it to be an outstanding wilderness trip. Of course, you can hike the loop in either direction but I would recommend counter-clockwise. You will want to deviate from the loop and locate your campsites at the many lakes which are located on trails which head toward the main crest. Sheep, Echo and Baldy are among my favorites. You will add to the mileage by camping off the loop, but you will also find much more scenic and enjoyable camps. The east side of the range is much drier than the west with fewer camping areas. Experienced hikers can complete this loop as an overnight, but to savor the experience, I would recommend 3-4 days at least.
The access road which is 17 miles long leaves Highway 95 south of Riggins. It is primarily dirt and/or gravel and gets a little rough near the end; best for higher clearance vehicles. There are two campgrounds near the trail head.
I just returned from camping across the road from the Corduroy Campground which was closed.
While we were there, we watched a logging operation remove beetle killed trees from Corduroy and three other area campgrounds.
The campgrounds are open again in case anyone is into winter camping. The temperatures were getting into single digits at night before I left.
The roads/trails were clear and the Carey Creek Trail is still as rough and rocky as ever.
Most of the campgrounds in the area have "Closed" signs. There are a lot of beetle killed trees in the campgrounds and the USFS is concerned some might fall. Camping is still allowed "AT Your Own Risk".
The only one completely closed is the one in POI #2. Potable water is still available here.