July 26, 2016

Elk City Wagon road, Elk City, Idaho

Elk City Wagon Road-100 years ago starting at Harpster winding on the old Nez Pierce trail through Newsome and to Elk City, where in 1861 men were mining gold from the streams. The road brought in freighters, miner, mail.  In the winter the team of horses pulled sleights through ten feet of snow and cold. Half way was Mountain House Way Station, where you can get a meal and a place to sleep. Summer travel took two days, winter travel took five days. $2,000,000 worth of gold was taken from Newsome creek area.

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Day 1- 32 mi
We headed up the Forest Service road 1858,  to find a camp site, the road is very dusty, and at 4.5 mi we found camping site along the Newsome creek on the left and at Sing Lee campground. (no services)
Sing Lee had room for 10 campers, but Newsome campground just 1/4 mi up the road, there was room for 3 maybe.
We headed up the road, and on the Elk City  Wagon road, at the old town of Newsome, the 284  road gets rough and higher elevation, a fun atv ride. We went left to the Pilot Knob Lookout tower, fs rd 466 where Gary was manning the tower, at 7135 ft. Along the trail there we saw Pilot Rock, a landmark used by the Nez Pierce Indians long ago.  The trail to the lookout tower is 5 miles and the last miles is rocky and climbing.
We visited with Gary and he told us about the 2015, 7,000 acre fire that surrounds his fire lookout station. A large spark landed on his cat walk and burned a hole in the board, luckily he put out the fire. The firefighters put a shield around the tower and got Gary out of there.
On the way back we took 466 road and the 1858 road, which turned out to be just plain curvy dusty roads. The wagon road we went out on was much more interesting, with signs along the way, showing interesting points
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Day 2-36 mi
We headed south on fs rd 284, and got on the Nugget Peak trail #  828    , it is a narrow, hill climbing, weaving, the best trail we've rode on!! We came across a few small roads not on maps, so have your sense of direction. We hit fs rd 471 and went south till we hit fs rd 1199, which took us into the town of Elk City, Id. Take time and tour the town, Forest Service Ranger Station, a grocery store, Laundromat, shower house, a convenience store with a restaurant, gas, propane, grocery supplies, and other cafe in town.
After touring town and lunch we came back on 1199 and went on the Elk City Wagon Rd 1808, till we came across the sign for Elk Summit Lookout tower, 2 mi

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