2024 Emerald Lake (Full)

Volunteer Trail Work Project

2024 Emerald Lake (Full)

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Deep in the remote Hells Canyon Wilderness, this backpacking trip will bring volunteers up and over ridges into lake basins to spend five days in some of the most rugged and beautiful country in Idaho.

Volunteers will meet Wednesday morning at Black Lake Campground and backpack up Black Lake/Horse Heaven Trail. We will set up base camp near Emerald Lake, and from here work up to clear the loop around Casey Mountain. We hope to connect to the work accomplished by ITA the week before, starting from the other side. Once open, this would offer backpackers and hikers a great loop trip to experience the amazing scenery and wildlife this area is known for.

Project information is subject to change. Crew leaders will communicate via email. Failure to respond to your crew leader may result in being dropped from the project. See our FAQs, reach out to your crew leader, or contact ITA staff at trails@idahotrailsassociation.org if you have questions.

Trails: Black Lake Horse Heaven Trail # 214, Casey Moutain Trail #216

Itinerary: This is a five-day project. Volunteers are encouraged to camp at the trailhead the evening before. Start hike in Wednesday morning, clearing on the way if necessary. Set up base camp near Emerald Lake, working up and around Casey Mountain Trail. Sunday, backpack to the trailhead and head home.

Food Provided by ITA: No

Crew Leader: Melanie Vining and Greg Hart

Estimated Drive Time from Closest Town: 2 hours from Council: 4WD recommended after Smith Mt. Lookout. Carpooling is possible for volunteers without a 4WD. Depending on road conditions, maybe hiking in from Deep Creek Trailhead. The crew leader will specify the meeting time & place in their pre-trip emails.

Trail Map:  Click here for trail map and elevation profile

Refundable deposit: $50

Why do I need to pay a deposit? We’ve had trouble with people backing out of trips at the last minute which can really affect the productivity of the overall project. By charging a refundable fee, volunteers are less likely to cancel their reservation. Refunds will not be given to volunteers that do not show up or cancel their reservation. Exceptions will be made for medical reasons or unforeseen circumstances. Volunteers can choose to donate the deposit to ITA. All donations are tax-deductible and will go towards maintaining trails throughout Idaho. If you require assistance in paying for this fee, please contact us at trails@idahotrailsassociation.org and we will waive the cost.

Difficulty Rating

You should have experience with backpacking and be in good hiking condition with broken-in and tested gear. This is a remote backcountry project so injuries such as sprains and blisters or even extreme fatigue from not being properly conditioned can quickly become a big safety issue. If you are unsure about the proper gear or about preparing for a trip, please reach out to trails@idahotrailsassociation.org.

Hike: 4/5 Strenuous- The trail to Emerald Lake goes up and over Purgatory Saddle before descending to the lake. Hiking into camp while carrying heavy packs and tools. Net 2,500 feet of elevation gain/loss over 5.5 miles. The good news is that it’s mostly downhill on the hike in, when packs are heaviest. See the linked map for the elevation profile.

Project Work: 4/5 Strenuous- This area hasn’t been cleared in several years. Lots of saw work, brushing, and some tread work. Improving switchbacks and creek crossings when needed. The hike into project work gets steeper and farther each day as we work up the mountain. We could end up hiking up to four miles from camp, or possibly move base camp mid-week.

Volunteer Spots Available: 0 of 8
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