Gateway to the Clearwater Backcountry!
Leave hassles, stop lights and cell phones behind with all those folks in the city. No matter what time of year, Pierce (population 511) is an awesome place to visit. Rich in History and Outdoor Opportunities, there is plenty to do and see. (Click the Summer Activities and Winter Activities Tabs for details on seasonal recreational opportunities in the area.)
There is a tremendous amount of history in the Pierce area, including our close proximity to the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail. Lewis and Clark first encountered the Nez Perce Indians near Weippe, just ten miles east of town. In addition, the Pierce area abounds with a rich history of gold mining. The party of Captain E.D. Pierce first discovered gold in Idaho in 1860. The strike occurred on Canal Gulch near the current site of the town. Pierce was later established as the county seat of Shoshone County and Idaho’s first courthouse was erected. (It is still standing – see right photo.) The Pierce Free Public Library is also an excellent source of information and has a nice display of mining artifacts.
The other “gold” of the Pierce area is the vast forests often referred to as “green gold.” The Clearwater National Forest boasts the largest stand of Western White Pine in the world. Timber harvest in the Pierce area has a colorful history, from the “rough & tough” logging camps and river log drives, to the modern mechanical harvesting equipment now in use. The J. Howard Bradbury Logging Museum in Pierce is an excellent way to take-in some of the logging history of the area. The museum has a display of much of the equipment used in by-gone years, as well as a photographic history of the men and machines used in timber harvest. The museum is open seasonally Friday & Saturday from 12:00-4:00 p.m. from Mid-June to Mid-October (after Labor Day – Saturdays only).
The Timber Inn serves meals and alcohol, is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Pierce also features a well-stocked supermarket-style grocery store, laundromat, car wash, auto parts store, post office, hardware store, art gallery, and a mini-mart with fuel pumps. (Click on the logo below to view the Pierce, Idaho, Chamber web site.
Spring, Summer, Fall – what a great time to visit the Clearwater Backcountry! The forests surrounding Pierce are teeming with wildlife and the streams are brimming with trout, offering the avid hunter, photographer or fly fisherman many excellent opportunities. There are several different open seasons for the hunter to bag an animal. From Turkey and Bear hunting in the spring, to trophy White Bucks and Bull Elk in the fall, you are sure to not be disappointed. Check the Idaho Department of Fish and Game regulations for the current seasons.
The North Fork of the Clearwater River and its tributaries offer some of the best West-Slope Cutthroat trout fishing in the West. The crystal clear waters of renowned “Blue Ribbon” Kelly Creek and Cayuse Creek beckon the angler to make just one more cast in pursuit of the “big one”. In addition to Cutthroat Trout, the rivers also contain a native population of Rainbow trout and Bull trout. Check the Idaho Department of Fish and Game regulations for the current seasons, bag and possession limits.
For the hiking or photography enthusiast, The North Fork River Canyon offers spectacular scenery and stunning vistas. The U.S. Forest Service – Clearwater National Forest maintains an excellent system of hiking trails. Many of the trails lead into the Mallard-Larkins Primitive Area or into one of the many high mountain lakes that dot the high country. You can also visit some preserved tracts of Old Growth Timber such as Walker Park near Headquarters. This Old Growth Stand of Western Red Cedar and Western White Pine, set aside by Potlatch Corporation showcases trees 10 to 15 feet in diameter and 200 feet tall!
ATV riding has become a popular sport in the area. There are hundreds of miles of abandoned logging roads that are only open to vehicles under 48 inches in width. In addition the U.S. Forest Service – Clearwater National Forest has established some areas exclusively for the ATV enthusiasts. These areas feature parking areas, loading ramps and marked trails. One such trail leads to Clarke Mountain Lookout, which provides you with an awesome view of the North Fork River Canyon (photo below).
The Pierce area offers the winter recreationalist the ultimate getaway. From uncrowded ski slopes, to meadows covered in waist deep powder, to quiet streamside trails, this little known destination offers it all. The Clearwater Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club grooms 300 miles of trails into the Clearwater Backcountry. Call (208) 435-4821 for an update or check out Clearwater County Groomer Facebook page. Many of the trails lead to scenic vistas, while others meander along crystal clear mountain streams. An excellent trail map is available. There are several snowmobile “fun runs” scheduled throughout the winter.
Just 10 miles outside Pierce is the Bald Mountain Ski Resort. This little known hill has been touted as “the best little ski hill in Idaho”. Offering excellent snow conditions and multiple runs, from beginner to advanced, you are sure to not be disappointed. Ski & Stay packages are available at The Outback. For the cross-country ski and snowshoe enthusiast there are areas set aside for non-motorized use. These areas offer excellent skiing and snowshoeing as well as the opportunity for wildlife viewing.