Idaho Centennial Trail to Oregon Desert Trail

stretch

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From June to October of 2020, myself and a buddy hiked a counterclockwise route from the southern terminus of the ICT to the eastern terminus of the ODT, using the entirety of both trails plus sections of the PNT and PCT to tie them together. The whole trip clocks in at somewhere around 2,800 miles. This is a great route of the northwest that I think we'll see more and more people doing over the coming years.

ICT: A beautiful and rugged route. I really enjoyed this hike, even when I didn't. I loved how remote it felt. This route is not as hard as it's made out to be, but it is on a whole other level from, say, the CDT.

PNT: (upper priest lake area to PCT). Sometimes remote and beautiful, sometimes a lot of road walking. Temps around 100F almost every day when not at altitude. I enjoyed it, but I was also ready to get up into the cascades.

PCT: (3mi south of Canadian border to Bend, OR). The most beautiful, well built long trail I've ever walked on. Stunning, but crowded.

ODT: The Oregon desert is beautiful, the little towns are charming, and the route is remote and at times very adventurous.

Pics (in chronological order):

ICT - Owhyee Desert. Vast rolling oceans of sage with massive river canyons cut out of the volcanic rock.
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ICT - Sawtooths. I took an alpine lakes alternate route through the Sawtooths in lieu of following the ICT. Lots of snow, lakes, and beautiful high passes.
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ICT - Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Middle fork of the Salmon River. Named for the salmon that get here by swimming upstream all the way from the Pacific.
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ICT: Stateline Trail. A beautiful section of trail that follows the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains on the Montana/Idaho border.
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ICT- Lake Pend O'Reille. So deep they used to test submarines here.
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ICT - Idaho Panhandle. The old growth cedar forests in the northern part of the state were incredible. Miles and miles of gigantic old trees.
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PNT: Just after meeting up with the PNT and heading west.
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PNT: Okanogan Highlands. Dry, hot, but very pretty. An interesting change of pace after leaving the much wetter and higher purcells and selkirks.
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PNT or PCT: This is either the Pasayten or north cascades. Brisk morning at a great campsite high on a saddle.
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PCT: North Cascades. North Cascades sunrise.
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PCT: Glacier Peaks. Glacier Peaks sunrise.
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PCT: Somewhere in Washington. heaven = i get to stay, but everyone else has to leave.
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PCT: Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. This was the night that a large windstorm fueled wildfires and destroyed several small Oregon towns. Probably 40 miles or so north of this spot.
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ODT - One of the longer water carries. Paved road walking on this route is blessedly rare, and always short-lived.
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ODT- The Alvord Rim. Smoke obscured our view of the salt lake below, but it was still a beautiful spot.
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ODT- We walked up out of the desert into aspens, a high lake, and basin vistas.
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ODT- Navigating our way up and over the rocky hillside seen in the background.
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ODT- Alvord Desert. I love waking up in the desert.
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ODT - They call this the playa. Fast, easy, beautiful hiking.
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ODT- the Pueblos. All off-trail, all beautiful.
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ODT: NV/OR border. We crossed the plain below to the mountains on the far side.
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ODT- Owhyee River Canyon. Beautiful hiking. Often difficult and slow, rarely as wide open as the pic below would suggest.
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ODT: Owhyee River Canyon. The springs would at times gush out of the canyon walls. Some warm, some cold.
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ODT: Eastern Terminus. The end!
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Last edited:

LarryBoy

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Awesome! I think when Ras and Kathy did this (2018?), they closed the gap between the ODT and the ICT using a route that She-ra mapped. From what they were saying, it was a little bit of gnarly and a lot of uncertainty. Did you guys close the gap between the two, or call it at the ODT eastern terminus?
 

stretch

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Awesome! I think when Ras and Kathy did this (2018?), they closed the gap between the ODT and the ICT using a route that She-ra mapped. From what they were saying, it was a little bit of gnarly and a lot of uncertainty. Did you guys close the gap between the two, or call it at the ODT eastern terminus?
I think you're right that they completed a full loop. That was an awesome hike, but we hadn't heard about it until we were on the PNT! So we never really had a chance to consider following their route. I think either way though I would've still stuck to the route we did, so that we could do the full ICT and ODT. We could've still connected back to the southern terminus of the ICT by following the Idaho Boundary Trail, but it would've been mostly dirt road walking. So rather than add on filler miles we ended on the ODT.
 

LarryBoy

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I think you're right that they completed a full loop. That was an awesome hike, but we hadn't heard about it until we were on the PNT! So we never really had a chance to consider following their route. I think either way though I would've still stuck to the route we did, so that we could do the full ICT and ODT. We could've still connected back to the southern terminus of the ICT by following the Idaho Boundary Trail, but it would've been mostly dirt road walking. So rather than add on filler miles we ended on the ODT.
Right on. I have so many questions...

1. Marble Creek on the ICT. I know they worked on it both last year and this year. How were conditions on it when you went through? Or did you follow the HST routing and avoid it?
2. Besides the Pasayten, any other notable highlights on the stretch of the PNT that you did?
3. Is the Owyhee wade as awesome as it looks?
4. You mentioned one of your longer water carries was on the ODT. How long were your carries on the ODT and southern ICT? Did you cache at all?

Cool hike; thanks for sharing!
 

hikeer

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What an awesome looking hike!
 

stretch

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Right on. I have so many questions...

1. Marble Creek on the ICT. I know they worked on it both last year and this year. How were conditions on it when you went through? Or did you follow the HST routing and avoid it?
2. Besides the Pasayten, any other notable highlights on the stretch of the PNT that you did?
3. Is the Owyhee wade as awesome as it looks?
4. You mentioned one of your longer water carries was on the ODT. How long were your carries on the ODT and southern ICT? Did you cache at all?

Cool hike; thanks for sharing!
1. Marble Creek trail was in good shape for the most part, and never difficult to follow. Trail crews did a great job. You cross the creek 40+ times, one crossing was sketchy for us. There were a couple ICT hikers few days ahead of us early on, then one of them got swept there and broke a toe while trying to get back to shore. After Marble Creek, we saw no evidence of recent trail maintenance along the smaller creeks in the Frank or Selway Bitterroot.
2. Upper priest lake area to WA border was nice. There's a section of old growth forest (in addition to the one you see heading to upper priest falls on ICT) and good trail that's just really good. I liked the kettle crest trail, too, even though a lot of it has been burned. It's good tread that follows a crest for a long ways with good views off into the lowlands. There were plenty of little mini highlights along the way, too.
3. Yes! both the Owhyee and West Little Owyhee canyon walks exceeded expectations. Slow going, but always worth it. Good advice is to take more food than you think you'd need for the West Little Owhyee, it's very slow going in the canyon. We had to exit that canyon early due to food constraints.
4. No self-placed caches.
Southern ICT - Longest water carry maybe 25 miles? We started off by walking off trail down in the river canyon for several miles. Then we also found water in puddles on the road which helped. Even without the puddles, if a person could do 30mi between water sources then they could get through that section without caching (if they're willing to go off trail to get down to the river and back).
ODT: We had to re-route in the middle of a section around a wildfire in the driest section of the trail. So we had a 100mi section that ended up only having two sources, one of which was a cache maintained by a volunteer. Other than that, I think the longest carries were around 25-30 miles, and there weren't many of those.

And thanks! I was glad to find a community that seemed right to share it in. I also read about your greater yellowstone loop, very cool. I'm planning a very similar trip for this coming season and hopefully I'll be able to ask you for some advice on the route.
 

Jackson

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What an amazing trip, and I love the minimalist, very understated trip report. But I also could scroll through photos of that route for hours. That shot of the Middle Fork Salmon River with the raft is fantastic. Wish I could be right there (with summer weather) right now.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some more of your trips in the future!
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Welcome to BCP!
 

LarryBoy

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1. Marble Creek trail was in good shape for the most part, and never difficult to follow. Trail crews did a great job. You cross the creek 40+ times, one crossing was sketchy for us. There were a couple ICT hikers few days ahead of us early on, then one of them got swept there and broke a toe while trying to get back to shore. After Marble Creek, we saw no evidence of recent trail maintenance along the smaller creeks in the Frank or Selway Bitterroot.
2. Upper priest lake area to WA border was nice. There's a section of old growth forest (in addition to the one you see heading to upper priest falls on ICT) and good trail that's just really good. I liked the kettle crest trail, too, even though a lot of it has been burned. It's good tread that follows a crest for a long ways with good views off into the lowlands. There were plenty of little mini highlights along the way, too.
3. Yes! both the Owhyee and West Little Owyhee canyon walks exceeded expectations. Slow going, but always worth it. Good advice is to take more food than you think you'd need for the West Little Owhyee, it's very slow going in the canyon. We had to exit that canyon early due to food constraints.
4. No self-placed caches.
Southern ICT - Longest water carry maybe 25 miles? We started off by walking off trail down in the river canyon for several miles. Then we also found water in puddles on the road which helped. Even without the puddles, if a person could do 30mi between water sources then they could get through that section without caching (if they're willing to go off trail to get down to the river and back).
ODT: We had to re-route in the middle of a section around a wildfire in the driest section of the trail. So we had a 100mi section that ended up only having two sources, one of which was a cache maintained by a volunteer. Other than that, I think the longest carries were around 25-30 miles, and there weren't many of those.

And thanks! I was glad to find a community that seemed right to share it in. I also read about your greater yellowstone loop, very cool. I'm planning a very similar trip for this coming season and hopefully I'll be able to ask you for some advice on the route.
That's awesome man. How early in the year where you doing Marble Creek? I didn't get there early-mid August so water levels weren't a problem - but the trail was completely obliterated for like 10 mi until you got to climb up to Lookout Ridge. Those water carries don't sound too bad aside from the re-route. I'm also curious about your routing going north from the Main Salmon. Did you take Rattlesnake Ridge or Bargamin Creek?
 

canadug

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Sounds like a truly awesome trip. I have done bits and pieces of all those trails and they are beauties.
 

stretch

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What an amazing trip, and I love the minimalist, very understated trip report. But I also could scroll through photos of that route for hours. That shot of the Middle Fork Salmon River with the raft is fantastic. Wish I could be right there (with summer weather) right now.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some more of your trips in the future!
View attachment 94857

Welcome to BCP!

Thanks! I agree, I could look at pictures of mountains and deserts for hours (and sometimes I do). But yeah, Idaho really made me wish I knew how run rivers. Looked really fun. Not to mention rafters eat a lot better than backpackers..
 

stretch

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That's awesome man. How early in the year where you doing Marble Creek? I didn't get there early-mid August so water levels weren't a problem - but the trail was completely obliterated for like 10 mi until you got to climb up to Lookout Ridge. Those water carries don't sound too bad aside from the re-route. I'm also curious about your routing going north from the Main Salmon. Did you take Rattlesnake Ridge or Bargamin Creek?
What year did you go through? We must have gotten lucky with our timing there. I took Bargamin, what about you? And that’s wild to cross that desert in what must have been late July temps! Not much shade out there.
 

LarryBoy

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2019 for me. I took a different route through southern ID - coming from northern Utah - but it was still all triple digits until I got up into the Pioneers. I'm not really an umbrella fan, but a Chrome Dome is pretty much required in that kind of climate! I took Bargamin too. I heard horrible things about Rattlesnake Ridge from some sources, but Doug @ Campbells Ferry was saying it was passable, albeit rough. So I don't really know.
 

wsp_scott

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That is an awesome way to spend a couple of months, thanks for sharing
 

Bob

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Nice.... Id be interested in seeing your route over the Bitteroots, what you call the Statline trail, and thru the Selway..... if you could PM them.
 

stretch

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2019 for me. I took a different route through southern ID - coming from northern Utah - but it was still all triple digits until I got up into the Pioneers. I'm not really an umbrella fan, but a Chrome Dome is pretty much required in that kind of climate! I took Bargamin too. I heard horrible things about Rattlesnake Ridge from some sources, but Doug @ Campbells Ferry was saying it was passable, albeit rough. So I don't really know.
Nice, that sounds like an awesome route. The pioneers look sweet. And yeah I had heard the same about rattlesnake Ridge. Shout out to Doug and Phyllis! Campbell’s ferry was a great stop.
 
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