The Idaho Centennial Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is an incredibly popular trail, especially after the book and movie “Wild” was released. There are so many trail systems around the country whose names are eternal, that have such a good name they're easily recognized, even by the novice, whether they travel through one state, or an entire coast. However, did you know that we have a trail that runs from the southern end of Idaho straight up through the panhandle to the northern border? Did you know that part of this trail goes directly through our wonderful wilderness here in the Sawtooths? Many people do not know this, as there are not a lot of people actually hiking this trail.
The Idaho Centennial Trail (ICT) is incredibly scenic, very wild, and extremely remote. This 900-1,200 mile trail is pieced together with existing trails and roads, but many of these areas have not seen a chainsaw or handsaw in many years, if ever. There is a map of the trail, however it is highly recommended that all hikers create their own USGS maps based off the existing map that can be found online and always carry a GPS. So if this trail is so rugged, untrammeled, and intense, why am I telling you about this?
It’s simple. This is a part of Idaho, a part of Stanley. There are a few through hikers that come to Stanley to pick up a package and stay for a few days. Clay Jacobsen from the Idaho Trails Association has stopped here in Stanley a few times on his journey through the state. These hikers could be a big part of our town as they sometimes require lodging, food, laundry, internet and many other amenities this town can offer to the through hikers. Clay recounts that in history, there may be only 10 people who have completed this trail entirely. This year however, there are a handful of adventurous folks who are willing to brave the unmaintained trails for their spot on the Idaho Centennial Trail, and possibly in our town as well. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation manages the trail, so the map can be found on their website: https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/centennial-trail-map. They have laid out, with the help of many partners, where the best pickup spots are located for your food, where there are alternate routes, and agreements for trail maintenance and work. The Bureau of Land Management offers help for the management of the southern end of the trail, while the U.S. Forest Service offers management for the middle and northern ends of the trail. There are also sections of private land intermingled along the trail.
Right now, the trail is incredibly under maintained. However, if the hiking community comes together to enjoy and appreciate this trail, then the hikers, themselves, may become an integral part of providing maintenance to the trail. The outdoor community can come together to work on this trail and help make the ICT what it can be. This trail provides outdoor enthusiasts with the opportunity to see areas of Idaho that no one else has seen. This is the gem state for a reason, so go out and explore those hidden gems, and not just the Sawtooth mountains.
Here are a few links that you can peruse on your own time to learn more about the trail. First we have a section by section map of the trail, but again, if you do go out, please bring a GPS as well. http://idahocentennialtrail.org/discover-the-trail/trail-sections/ There are also trail journals that you can read to get a different perspective on the whole trail. Here are two journals, one written by Clay Jacobson, and the second one written by Dan Styer. http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=19431 - Clay Jacobson http://www.oberlin.edu/physics/dstyer/Backpacking/ICTHikingTips.pdf - Dan Styer