• Neal an Teresa Kaufman

Snowshoe Trails Near Sly Owl

It's peak season for snow recreation up here at the ranch. Many of our guests use the yurt as their basecamp for winter play spending the days on snowshoe and XC ski outings and retreating to the warmth and coziness of the yurt at night. Its a perfect winter getaway!

We are often asked, "where can we go to snowshoe nearby?" Here are four places we like to go when we head out for a day in the snow:

Terrace Lakes

Terrace Lakes golf course is open to snowshoeing/XC skiing. It's an easy, mostly flat area with great views. This is also a great spot for sledding! You'll see folks ripping down the hill beyond the clubhouse.

Directions from the yurt:

Head east Banks-Lowman Rd / Hwy 17. Turn left toward Crouch on Middle Fork Rd. Drive through town and continue up Middle Fork Rd approx. 6 mi. Turn left at the sign for "Terrace Lakes" and follow signs to clubhouse. Park at the main clubhouse


Take the path between the clubhouse and the pool. All the open space along the snow-covered fairways is open. Terrace Lakes somewhat intermittently sets a XC ski track here - check with the clubhouse for updated conditions. There is a nice lollipop loop with wide territorial views. Take that look or go as far as you like for an out-and-back.

Schoolhouse Gulch

A second great snowshoe spot, the Schoolhouse Gulch loop has a little bit more climbing, but it’s a smooth trail with pretty views across the valley to the west. Schoolhouse Gulch is at the very eastern edge of Garden Valley.

Directions from the yurt:

Heading east on Banks-Lowman Rd, drive through Garden Valley. After you pass the Chevron, watch for the turn off into the parking area on the left side of the road where the speed limit goes from 35mph back up to 50mph. There is a "Trail Rides" sign at the entrance to the parking area.


You'll see a trail sign at the trailhead showing a couple different loops you can choose from or combine together. This is an easy/moderate option with some steady climbing to high meandering traverse. Watch for elk, deer, and turkeys! The easy loop takes about 1-1 ½ hrs; combine both loops for a longer trek.

Station Creek

A little beyond Garden Valley further east on Hwy 17, Station Creek Trail is a more moderate to strenuous trail. The trail climbs through the forest eventually gaining a high ridge.

Directions from the yurt:

From Banks-Lowman, drive through Garden Valley, and continue 2 more miles. Before you reach the Ranger Station, turn left on the spur road, driving a short distance to the parking area. If you miss the turn off, turn around at the Ranger Station parking lot.


From the trailhead, climb through the forest above the creek gaining a ridge with views across the valley. It’s a little over 2 miles to the top, and gains about 1,300ft. The trail guidebook in the yurt lists Station Creek. Before you head out, sap a photo of the map and directions for reference on the go. It’s a pretty trail, but gets the legs burning a bit more! This is the most strenuous of the options.


The closest of these options to the yurt, this is a nice gently climbing trail/2-track road that leads from the Confluence take-out off Hwy 17. Facing south for much of the way, you’ll get a nice dose of sunshine if the sky is clear. There are sweeping views north to south and of the Middle and South Forks of the Payette River.

Directions from the yurt:

Drive 1 mile east on Banks-Lowman Rd. Just past the Confluence Take Out Site, pull over in the very large pullout spot. There is a “scenic byway” sign here. Keep an eye out for the family of Bald Eagles that resides right around this spot. Park here. At the east end of the pull out, cross the highway and hike up the double track "road".


As far as I know, there is no official name for this trail. In the dry months, this is a popular atv road, but in the winter, it offers relatively untouched solitude. The double-track gently climbs above the river and offers great views of across the valley and into Crouch Park here. You'll pass through a USFS gate a short distance up. Keep on going til you decide to turn around. This is a moderate out-and-back option.

*Snowshoeing with Fido? Big game migrate through the area in wintertime, and other animals, including fox, coyote, cougar, etc., call the valley home. Keep an eye on your pup. If they are likely to chase wildlife, keep them on a leash. Also, the snow can be really tough on their paws (ranch pup, Dobby, recently cut a pad on icy snow; poor little girl). If the snow is crusty and sharp, protect their paws with booties or salve like Mushers.

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