The narrow canyon of Johnstone Creek is a pleasant hike through shaded forest and colorful, volcanic terrain. The creek crossings host a variety of wildflowers late in the season. The meadows above 8,400 feet support a healthy population of penstemon and lupine in mid-summer. The stunning views of the Pioneers as you round Point 8,600 are a worthy destination.
From the trailhead, follow a side-hill trail above a beaver pond before dropping into the valley bottom. Pass through a nice aspen grove and climb several steep switchbacks to a rising traverse up the left side of the canyon. The underlying volcanic rock forms steep and narrow terrain that can feel a bit confined as you climb higher.
Eventually hikers pass an old cabin foundation in the trees before emerging into open meadows above 8,200 feet. The trail contours east to Point 8,600 where hikers are greeted with expansive views of the Pioneer Mountains. The final mile of the Johnstone Trail crosses several steep gullies of loose volcanic rock before joining the Pioneer Cabin Trail.
The Johnstone Creek Trail connects into the Pioneer Cabin Trail and is an alternate way to access this popular destination. Another options is to shuttle a car to the North Fork of Hyndman Trailhead for a great 10.4-mile loop to Pioneer Cabin and down the North Fork Trail to your waiting car.
It is possible to mountain bike up Johnstone Creek, but expect lots of steep and technical riding along with several hike-a-bike sections along the way. Most people will descend Johnstone Creek after riding their bikes up the Pioneer Cabin Trail.
Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring Sun Valley - A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer, and Smoky Mountains by Idaho River Publications.
Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks. Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho. His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured. Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure. Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers. Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.