I lived in Nampa for roughly eight years and yet never seemed to do any outdoors activities when I was here.
And it is not because of a lack of things to do. I heard a statistic recently that 80 percent of all roads in Idaho are unpaved. If you want to get away from civilization, then Idaho is certainly the place to be.
Moving here in the winter, though, made getting out and hiking a bit challenging. Idaho winters are quite a bit colder than Western Washington winters, so hiking with a 4-year-old is nigh on impossible.
So with a recent warming trend we decided to go check out Celebration Park near Melba.
This park features a railroad bridge built in 1897, which has been converted into a bridge for folks to walk across. It has petroglyphs on plentiful rocks. It has tons of access to the Snake River. It has huge basalt boulder fields. It has a random lake in the middle of a desert valley. And it has stunning views of surrounding buttes.
Just a 20-mile drive from our front door we checked out the petroglyphs first. They are located near the west entrance to the park and are pretty cool. They look like they’ve been damaged over the years by tourists, so that was kind of a letdown.
We then drove our Honda Accord over some of those unpaved roads – took immense skill to not bottom out in the ruts – to the east entrance where we parked so we could hike to Halverson Lake.
It was probably a two-mile round trip hike that was perfect on a 60-degree Saturday in March.
I had read online that there are a variety of paths to the lake, which is a popular fishing and swimming hole. We decided to follow the signed trail on the way out.
It runs through an immense open valley above the Snake River and would not be a trail I’d recommend in the summer. There is no cover whatsoever, just lots of sand, grass and giant rocks.
We eventually reached the lake and enjoyed a picnic, reveling in the reflections of the cliffs in the water and the hawks circling above.
On the way back, because we were tired and out of shape, we decided to follow the so-called shorter route that takes that takes you through the basalt field.
This was going great until we lost the trail.
Our daughter Catarina was done with walking at this point, plus traversing the rocks and the goatheads was tough on her little legs.
That meant I had the pleasure of carrying her on my shoulders.
We staggered and stumbled our way up and over a ridge, eventually picking our way back to the trail we had come in on.
When the park says follow the signs, well, follow the dang signs. Plus, who knows how much damage we did to the local flora with our off-trail bushwhacking.
From there we drove back to the old railroad bridge to check it out. For someone with a fair bit of anxiety about high places it wasn’t my favorite, but it did have stunning views of the Snake River and offered access to trails on the other side of the river.
Next time we’re either going to try that side of the river, or check out the River Canyon Trail which splits off from the Halverson Lake trail and follows the river.
– Craig Craker