By Marc Bowen
I’ve written about Cress Creek Trail before. If you haven’t read that post please do so. Just click this link: Cress Creek Nature Trail. It’s the first hike I do each year mostly because its close to home and at lower elevation. It’s an easy first hike even in the snow and can be walked early in the year or even during the winter.
Two days ago I had planned to come here but we had a late winter snow storm that dropped 7-8 inches of snow. So I waited a few days before driving over from my home which is about 15 minutes away.
The Cress Creek parking lot can hold a dozen cars but I was the only one here on this Monday morning which was fine by me.
There were already tracks headed up the trail from either earlier this morning or sometime yesterday. Cress Creek Nature Trail is a 1.3 mile loop and is set up as an interpretive trail with 18 interpretive signs along the way. The hike starts by heading east. The first half mile of trail is paved and then turns to a well maintained gravel pathway (Of course being covered in snow today I couldnt really tell the difference).
A little over a half-mile up the trail you can continue west over the stream or take a left turn up the gully. From here the trail is one big loop so either way you choose will eventually bring you back to this point.
As I stood on the bridge and looked south along the stream I could see into the valley and the snow covered farm land.
Looking north up-stream from the bridge the green color from plant life was bright despite winter temperatures. This stream is spring fed and water cress and other plant life grow year-round because of the mild water temperature. There were quite a few deer tracks around this water source. I didnt see any moose tracks although they do frequent this area.
One of the many interpretive signs in the area stands at the fork in the trail and next to the stream. Today I chose to go left at the fork and follow the stream up the gully headed north.
This part of the trail crosses two bridges in this gully before switch-backing up the hill a-ways. There were less tracks in this direction and deeper snow as the elevation increased. The change in elevation is about 280 feet by the time you reach the highest point of this trail.
The trail crosses another bridge after a couple of switch-backs and this is the upper most part of the stream seen from the trail.
From the last bridge the trail makes a couple more turns up the hill until you reach the highest point of this hike. The views are beautiful, the snow pristine. There are few tracks other then those made by deer. The temperature was only around 30 degrees but because of no wind and plenty of sunshine it was comfortable enough for a long sleeve shirt, no coat and no gloves. I carry those items in my pack should they be needed.
Fresh, clean snow, beautifully flocked trees and clear mountain air! Just what a body and soul need to recharge.
The trail drops back down the hill and then heads back west toward the springs and the fork in the trail. Along the way are trails to a couple of overlooks.
Each of these overlooks have a flat area with steel picnic table and railings where you can look out over the valley and the South Fork of the Snake River below. On a clear day you can see all the way over to the Menan Buttes ( on the horizon ). The deer have been all over this area leaving their tracks in the snow.
As I returned to the parking area I took a few minutes to walk across the road to a bridge that spans the canal next to the river. There is a ditch road that can be walked for quite aways along the canal and river.
This is a great hike for families. We all need to take time to unplug, get the kids away from TV, video games and phones and walk these trails as a family and make some good memories. My wife and I have walked this trail with our kids and grandchildren and we all enjoy the time spent together exploring our beautiful world.