Updated on November 5, 2020
Day 5 of 2020 Idaho Trip, Pioneer Cabin
Fifth day of my Idaho trip, I would be leaving the town of Hailey for Moore today, in preparation for next day’s summitting of Borah Peak. But before that, I would hike Pioneer Cabin Trail in Sawtooth National Forest.
Finally, it’s my last day in the Sawtooth forests. There weren’t a lot of hotels/airbnbs along US93 that fitted in my plan to summit Borah Peak the next day, fortunately I found one in the town of Moore.
It only took 1.5 hours to drive from Hailey to Moore, and as for what to do for the remainder of the day, I had a few options. I originally planned to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument, but unfortunately I left my NPS pass at home. And since I missed a day of hiking in Sawtooth by resting in bed, I had a few choices left in the region. At the end, I chose to hike Pioneer Cabin Trail.
Pioneer Cabin was built in the Pioneer Mountains by Union Pacific Railroad as a ski hut in 1937, and still served as a shelter for winter skiers and summer hikers till this day. On way to its trailhead one would pass the town of Ketchum / Sun Valley, with visible ski tracks covering surrounding mountains.
The last 6km of forest road, once off Trail Creek Road, was unpaved. It’s in much better shape than other unpaved roads in the region, though.
Pioneer Cabin could either be reached via an out-and-back totaling 12.9km, or adding Long Gulch Trail to make it a 14.2km loop. At first, it seemed weird to me that most online comments recommended the out-and-back version. Until I tried out the first 20 meters of Long Gulch Trail and found it pretty overgrown, and retreated to the out-and-back Pioneer Cabin Trail.
Here’s GPS tracking:
About 3.3km/2mi from trailhead, one finally come out of the treeline, to a scene of prairie with blossoming wildflowers.
And this was what hiking among that prairie looked like.
2min15sec video, 1.25x speed, 121MB for H265 source, 160MB for H264 source.
Finally, a little bit over 2 hours since start, Pioneer Cabin emerged before the backdrop of soaring mountains.
Most of my hiking route three days ago were blocked by the mountain in the foreground, leaving just the tips of a few mountains visible.
I gave the cabin a quick tour, which consisted of two small rooms and a few bunk beds, saving backpackers the need to pack tents.
Apart from all the amenities for backpackers, like a stove and fireplace, I found some loving touches of the cabin, like a guitar and boardgame, that really gave it a home feeling.
Here’s my drone’s tour video of Pioneer Cabin and surrounding mountains.
And after about half an hour at Pioneer Cabin, I traced my steps back to the parking lot.
That’s when I got the opportunity to observe other forms of life along the trail.
Unfortunately, the blossoming flowers attracted lots of bees, one of which mistook me for the flowers. So what should be a comfortable breeze downhill turned out to be a frantic dash as I tried to outrun that bee. Unfortunately, the bee’s better at flying and it took 10 minutes for him to find an actual flower that smelt better.
So a little bit over 4 hours later, I was back at the parking lot. And by the time I drove back to the town of Hailey, it was 3pm, just in time for a late lunch, before I went on the way for Moore, Idaho.
And I reached my overnight Airbnb just before 6pm, time to call it a day before tomorrow’s epic summitting of Borah Peak.