Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Indian Creek/Big Baldy Ridge Loop

Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, central Idaho

The Frank Church is the largest single forested designated wilderness in the U.S., outside of Alaska of course. The largest wilderness in the lower 48 is Death Valley, but lack of water limits backpacking there. This size - big wilderness - attracted me. The complex of three contiguous wildernesses in nearby Montana centered around the Bob Marshall Wilderness is also big, and I had done a good trip there a decade earlier. So it was time to visit the Frank.

This loop is approximately 52 miles. The first five miles are the same going in and out. At that point, five miles in, you choose between the Indian Creek Trail and the Big Baldy Trail. I decided to take the clockwise route and descend Indian Creek and return on the ridge. This would give the snow on the ridge a few more days to melt. Both routes are about the same distance. I did this trip during the first week of July, 2006.

Descending Indian Creek
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River
Returning on Big Baldy Ridge