By Audrey Andrews | May 18th, 2020
Boise County, Idaho
Length of Grimes Creek Road; Highway 21 to Centerville Road:
909 feet elevation gain
Thirty minutes up Highway 21 from Interstate 84, a historical marker announces the entrance to Grimes Creek Road in Boise County, Idaho. Every day after 5 p.m. and all weekend long, truck after truck turns left to access camping, fishing, hunting and hiking throughout the Boise National Forest.
Past the popular fishing area at the intersection, the sounds of cars swiftly dissipate; the roar of the creek steeps the air. Throughout the first three miles, Grimes Creek Road is relatively flat and remains paved with asphalt. I’ve watched a deer sprint across the road, streaking water from the creek. Elk are always around.
At 2.9 miles, a brown sign reads “Centerville 12″ miles. Straight ahead on the dirt road, your destination awaits. In nice weather, trucks putter down the road, drizzling dust which fills runners’ lungs. As dirt saturates the air, the creek twists away. Is this the end of the beauty?
Soon, the creek and road meet again. Twists and turns abound through this sweeping valley. Runners: choose your placement on these turns carefully; Polaris ATVs are known to tear around these bends at 60+ miles per hour.
Racing on tires through this landscape is not the only crime Grimes Creek has suffered. Grimes Creek is renowned for its golden past. In 1862, George Grimes & Moses Splawn discovered gold in Grimes Creek, ushering the Idaho gold rush. Idaho City served as the main mining town, and Boise Basin would never be the same.
Prior to the discovery of gold, the Boise National Forest was inhabited by the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes. They were hunter-gatherers, typically traveling in the spring and summers. Today, the Fort Hall Reservation near Pocatello is home to many of their descendants.
The majority of Grimes Creek Road consists of this dirt portion. Along the way, open meadows yield growing pines. Once, traveling along in my family’s ATV, we spotted a coyote in perhaps the widest part of the meadow- it dashed as if for its life. Blazing among the grass, it was across the road and into the forested mountains seemingly before we could blink.
Although relatively flat for a 14 mile mountain run, the duration of Grimes Creek Road, when traversed from Highway 21 to Centerville Road, includes just over 900 feet of elevation gain. Of course, most of this is in the latter portion of the journey, which can make for grueling attempts at a negative split on a hot day.
While gaining in elevation, the road climbs above Grimes Creek. Simultaneously, the curves of the road become more intense, culminating in the most sweeping view of the campaign. The road drops again for about a mile, simply to start its journey up again. Now, the end is near. An outcropping of rusted vehicles means Centerville Road is around the corner.
Over the final half mile, feet smash asphalt, ending as they began. With a slap of the stop sign, the Grimes Creek course is complete.