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Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop

Sawtooth Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop

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  • There is a dense network of mining roads (and private land) on Atlanta Hill. There is active mining in the area, so tread carefully.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Looking north across the Atlanta Valley into Joe Daley Creek (left of center). The high peaks on Nahneke Mountain can be seen in the top right of the photo.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Much of the area around Atlanta has experienced significant wildfire in the last 14 years. Most of the fires burned quite hot and left nothing behind but this dead forest. This view is looking down onto Decker Creek from the Flint Creek Creek Trail.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Though badly scarred by the Trail Creek Fire in 2000, the lush green hillsides above Decker Creek are stunning even in August.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Eventually hikers and bikers leave the burn and enter healthy forest in the headwaters of Decker Creek.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • The junction with the Senator Creek Trail marks the beginning of a steep climb up and over to Grouse Creek further west.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • The upper Decker Creek Canyon was spared from severe burning. This is the view from the climb up and over to Grouse Creek.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Upper Grouse Creek was heavily burned as well. The cirque at the head of Grouse Creek holds two small lakes that can be reached by a mile-long spur trail off of the main loop.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Grouse Creek is open to ATVs, so the riding is along a wider double-track trail.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
  • Lower Decker Creek. Once riders reach the bottom of Grouse Creek there is still a 4-mile ride (mostly descent) down the old mining roads on Yuba Creek. Once the site of a bustling mining town, the canyon now feels remote and removed from civilization.- Decker Creek to Grouse Creek Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Good riding. Fire ecology and recovery. Mining history.
Cons: 
ATV accessible. Fire scars. Access issues.
Alerts: 
The region burned significantly in 2000, 2003, and again in 2013. Fire related hazards (falling trees, road washouts, etc.) may exist. The Yuba River Road may be blocked due to washouts.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,986.00 ft (1,214.93 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Trail difficulty: 
Blue
Total Distance: 
19.80 mi (31.86 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,880.00 ft (1,792.22 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

The Decker and Grouse creek drainages are tributaries of the Yuba River, which wraps around Atlanta Hill south of the “town” of Atlanta. Note that there are some access issues due to washouts on the Yuba River (see below).  The Atlanta Region overview provides a lot of general information about the area. The Grouse Creek Trail is open to ATVs and has a few lakes at the head of the canyon. The Decker Creek Trail is singletrack and a better hiking option. This particular adventure was a done on a mountain bike loop out of Atlanta.

Decker to Grouse Loop

Decker Creek drains the southeast corner of the Yuba River drainage. The mining town of Yuba City was once located at the mouth of Trail and Decker creeks, but it has long since vanished. Fires in 2000 and 2003 swept through at least three quarters of the drainage, leaving nothing but a forest of ghostly tree trunks. After 12 years of recovery a few small saplings are beginning to appear among the thick underbrush.

The upper half of Decker Creek was spared from the burn, so the hike/bike offers an interesting opportunity to transition from a stark, sun-baked, and fire-ravaged landscape to the seemingly lush and shady confines of a healthy forest. The upper canyon offers a combination of dense forest and open wildflower meadows.    

Due to washouts on the Yuba River and Decker Creek roads, the trailheads to both Grouse and Decker creeks are not accessible by car. Hikers must walk (or ride) an additional 1.8 miles from the junction of Trail Creek and Decker Creek. If the McGuire washout is not repaired, an additional 2.7 miles will be necessary. For this reason, these canyons are better explored on a mountain bike, motorcycle, or ATV (Grouse Creek only).

Mountain Biking

Decker and Grouse creeks are connected by the steep switchbacking Senator Creek Trail over their shared divide, which makes a convenient loop. For bikers who want a longer ride without driving from Atlanta, climb up the Montezuma Creek mining road to divide with Flint Creek. From here, the Flint Creek trail traverses through the burn into Decker Creek. After riding up Decker and down Grouse, follow the Yuba River down to the Middle Fork and back to Atlanta for a loop that is 19.8 miles long and has 3,986 feet of elevation gain. The riding up Decker is moderate singletrack, while Grouse Creek contains a wide two-track ATV trail. Decker also connects over the divide to Willow Creek for longer adventure rides into the South Fork of the Boise River drainages.

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Published in collaboration with 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.

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