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Bruneau, Idaho, United States

Big Jacks Creek Wilderness Guide (Owyhee County, Idaho)

ATV, UTV and 4X4 guide through some of the most desolate, inhospitable, wild, and rough terrain in the United States.

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 (3 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 130 miles / 209 km
Duration: Multiple days
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: The United States Congress designated the Big Jacks Creek Wilderness in 2009 and it now has a total of 52,684 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Idaho and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Big Jacks Creek Wilderness is bordered by the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness to the northwest. They are separated by a natural gas pipe line and dirt road.


The wilderness, in the Big Jacks Creek Basin, consists of rugged canyons, streams and plateaus that provide habitat for redband trout, mountain quail, sage hens, mountain lions, mule deer, antelope, bobcats, coyotes, and bighorn sheep, as well as two sensitive plant species. The basin ranges in elevation from 2808 to 5872 feet and drains a sagebrush-covered plateau dissected by rugged, sheer-walled canyons that are as much as 655 feet deep. Big Jacks Creek flows north into the Bruneau River, a tributary of the Snake River.

The basin is covered by big sagebrush, low sagebrush, salt desert shrub, and riparian vegetation communities. The sagebrush communities are most common; low sagebrush types are found primarily on shallow, poorly drained soil, and big sagebrush types are associated with deep, well-drained soils.

Lush riparian vegetation grows along perennial reaches of the creek and generally includes shrubs of willow, rose, and currant as well as sedge and bluegrass in meadow areas. Poison Ivy is abundant in the riparian areas. Beaver colonies are also found along the waterways.

Access to the basin is by way of a network of dirt roads in the southern part of the basin and hiking trails in the wilderness. The Parker Trail is the only mapped hiking trail into the wilderness. Other trails fall into the game/stock trail category.


Tips: This area is isolated and no services are available. Anything you might need should be brought with you. There is no cell phone service and the area is not regularly patrolled by law enforcement. You are on your own!

The dirt roads in the area range from bad to really bad. Except for the gas pipeline and the Battle Creek-Wickahoney roads, 4 wheel drive vehicles are recommended. The roads are impassible when wet.

Most of the tracks on the map are on the border of the wilderness or are corridors surrounded by wilderness. There are three access points to the wilderness shown as POIs/tracks on the map. They are all south of Bruneau, Idaho on Highway 51 on the west side of the highway. I listed the access points with my order of priority with POI #1 having the best access, ect.

There are no developed campgrounds in the area. Primitive camping is allowed. The camping areas listed in this guide fit that description.

The best times to visit the area are in late fall and in early spring. It gets hot in summer time and winter usually brings snow. The snakes are out in late spring and are starting to den in early fall. This is great rattlesnake habitat. Be careful!

Contact info for BLM for maps, fire info, ect.:

Bruneau Field Office
3948 Development Avenue
Boise,ID, 83705
Phone: 208-384-3300
Email: ddraheim@blm.govBruneau Field Office

The link in POI #1 is for a downloadable PDF Map of the Wilderness. All the links to BLM sites in this Guide are unreliable.

Points of Interest

Junction
map

Wickahoney - Battle Creek Road & Hwy. 51

This is the main access road into the Wilderness area.

It is a graveled, crowned, dirt road that is wide enough for passing for most of its length. It changes to a two track road where it intersects the gas pipeline.

When wet, there are several spots where you can easily get stuck, especially near Blue Creek.

It is usually graded in late April or May, depending on
the weather.

The link below is for a downloadable PDF map of the Wilderness.

Other Resources
Bureau of Land management
Junction
map

Shoofly Road & Hwy 51

This road is paved for a distance. After about 1.1 mile you will turn left (south) on Vaught Road (dirt) and continue to the unloading area. It is 3.8 miles to the unloading area.

Junction
map

Bob Tindale Road & Hwy. 51

This is a graveled road. It does not have a street sign, but is the only nearby road with power lines paralleling it on the south side. It is 1.1 miles to the unloading area.
Parking
map

ATV Unloading Area

The dirt road changes to a two track just before this point. The unloading area is on the left (south) after crossing a cattle guard. It is after the second cattle guard.

I would advise not taking a trailer or automobile past this area. The road narrows and is very washed out in spots.

This is an impromptu parking area.
Campground
map

Tent Camping Area

This is a possible tent camping area next to Big Jacks Creek. The creek is normally dry.

The road leading to here is very washed out and will require judgement as to your vehicle's capabilities.
Parking
map

ATV Unloading areas

This is an impromptu parking/unloading spot.
Parking
map

Camping Area- ATV Unloading Area

This is a clearing where cattle have been watered. This is not a good camping location if cattle are present.

If the water tanks are gone, so are the cattle.
Campground
map

Camping Area-Cell Phone Elevation: 4920 feet

There is cell phone service here. This location is in a saddle where cattle have been watered in the past, usually in the winter. This is also an impromptu camping location.

If the water tanks are gone, so are the cattle.

There is room for several camping trailers.

Information
map

Wilderness Sign Board

The rough road to the right (north) borders the wilderness area.

The main road (Wickahoney-Battle Creek) continues and bears to the south and part of it is the Wilderness boundary.
Landmark
map

Wickahoney Crossing - Private Land

There are stock pens and some outbuildings here. There is a buckaroo camp in the early spring and summer with wall tents, travel trailers, stock trailers, a UTV or two, and horses.

Junction
map

Dirt Road to Buncel Place

This road to the north from the Wickahoney - Battle Creek Road leads to the Buncel Place. After about a mile it becomes a corridor open to mechanized traffic through the Wilderness.

Landmark
map

Buncel Place - Private Land

This is private land, but public access is allowed. It is accessed by a corridor through the wilderness. The corridor continues on to the Holman Cabin and to Harvey Place-Zeno Falls and back to the Battle Creek-Wickahoney Road.

Duncan Creek flows through here.

A geocache is here.
Viewpoint
map

Holman Cabin - Private Land

This is a must visit location and very scenic viewpoint.

It is private land, but public access is allowed.

It overlooks Big Jacks Creek and its scenic canyon. We have seen Bighorn Sheep here. The Holman Cabin ruins are in the canyon and are a pile of boards.

There is a hiking/horse trail to the bottom of the canyon and it continues up the other side of the canyon.

There is a geocache here.

This area burned in a lightning caused range fire in 2012. I added some photos and a video showing the damage. The grass is already starting to come back. It will be longer for the sage brush to return.

Landmark
map

Harvey Place - Private Land

Public access is allowed.

There was a Mountain Bluebird nest inside the cabin.

Harvey Spring is here. The cabin is used as a line/hunting camp.

There is a geocache here.
Viewpoint
map

Zeno Falls

The parking area for ATVs is at Hicks Springs. It is on private land. Public access is allowed. It might be advisable to park a full size vehicle on the hill before arriving at the boggy spring area.

There is no marked discernible trail. We avoided the boggy area by hiking on the uphill side of it. We brush popped on the side hill on the south side of the stream. After about 1/4 mile we arrived at a steep shale slide which dropped off sharply into the canyon. We descended next to the rock wall on the south side.

The trail on loose scree to the bottom of the canyon is very steep and slippery. Be Careful!

As soon as you reach the bottom of the scree trail you can see the falls to your left. There are also some good views of Zeno Canyon and the opportunity to hike down it.

There is a geocache here.



Junction
map

Zeno Falls Road junction with the Wickahoney-Battle Creek Road

The road to the right(west) leads to the Potholes road turnoff.

Turning to the left (east) and returning to the Wilderness Signboard (POI #8) makes a good day ride loop.
Junction
map

Dirt road to the right (north) to the Potholes

Leaving the crowned Wickahoney - Battle Creek Road and turning north on this road will get you back to the Wilderness border in a couple of miles.

Two photos are of the Morrow Ranch Road. This is the wrong road.

The Potholes Road is pictured in the other two photos and is the next road past the Morrow Ranch Road. This is not a road for automobiles.
Landmark
map

Potholes

These are a series of water holes in Big Jacks Creek.

We crossed the Potholes on ATVs on 5-31-13. It was very boggy from springs and a full size vehicle would have been stuck to the axles. We drove along the creek bank to a drier area, an option not available to a full sized vehicle.

It may dry up enough to cross later in the summer.

Viewpoint
map

The Falls

I have not been here. Some friends on horses visited here in 2011 and furnished the photo. Looks to be about a mile hike from the nearest road.

A waypoint for this POI is listed on several of my maps, but I have found maps to be inaccurate on some waypoints.
Viewpoint
map

West Side Overlook #1

The rough road borders the Wilderness. There are scenic views of the Big Jacks Canyon.

This area may have burned in a range fire in the summer of 2012.
Landmark
map

Comical Turn

There is a waypoint on the map here. I don't know why or how it got named.

This area may have burned in a range fire in the summer of 2012.
Viewpoint
map

Conners Spring - Private Land

This is a major stock watering spring. It is on private land.
Landmark
map

Edge of Wilderness

This road ends at the Wilderness boundary. Some interesting views on the way.

The road (closed to vehicles) continues for several miles to the canyon rim.
Viewpoint
map

West Side Overlook #2

There is a mechanized corridor to get to this overlook.
Viewpoint
map

West Side Overlook #3

The last part of this road is a mechanized corridor.
Animals/Wildlife
map

Big Horse Basin Gap

This is not in the Wilderness, but is a very scenic canyon through a ridge. It is about a mile long. There are towering rock walls and scenic views everywhere.

We have seen more Bighorn Sheep through here than anywhere else in the area, usually when we did not have a camera available.

This is a must visit.
Viewpoint
map

Water Cave Overlook

This is a long drive from the main road, but is a scenic viewpoint into the Wilderness canyon and Big Jacks Creek.
Landmark
map

Al Sade Ranch Ruins - Private Land

This is private land, but public access is allowed.
Viewpoint
map

Big Jacks Creek Crossing - Private Land

The gas pipeline crosses here. This is private land, but public access is allowed.

There is an abandoned eagle's nest on the cliff.

We have been here when the creek is dry and when water is flowing. Even when it is dry, there is usually water in pools upstream.

There is also Poison Ivy along the creek.
Viewpoint
map

East Side Overlook - Big Jacks Creek

Requires a short hike, but there is a great viewpoint here.

There is a stock/game trail leading down into the canyon in the draw just south of this viewpoint.

Viewpoint
map

Hole in the Rock

There usually is water pooled inside the "hole'.

There are also red colored pictographs on the rock walls.

A geocache is here.
Animals/Wildlife
map

Antelope Wintering Area

We have seen over 150 antelope at a time in this area in the winter. It is on the Wilderness edge.
Junction
map

Parker Trail Head

The wilderness designation blocked the road to the canyon rim. It is about a mile hike to the rim and there is about a 1/2 mile trail to the canyon bottom.

There is info with photos on the Parker Trail (Also Zeno Falls, Duncan Creek) in the Upland Idaho link.
Landmark
map

Stone Survival Markers

These stone cairns were placed to help keep travelers from getting lost. Emergency food was also cached.

They are on a high point overlooking Duncan Creek and can be seen for quite a distance.

There is a geocache here.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Elindio42, kennymill, Carole Zundel
Reviews
Elindio42
We visited the southern part of the wilderness several times in May, 2013.

Thousands of acres of the wilderness burned in a lightning started range fire in 2012. I added photos and a video showing the damage to the Holman Cabin area.

I also added a track and photos of the Potholes area. I did not add any POIs as the scenic canyon views were at least two to four miles from the outer edge of the wilderness and we didn't hike to them.

Visited on May 30, 2013

by Elindio42 on Jun 12, 2013
Elindio42
I have had reports that a range fire burned a portion of the Wilderness around Comical Turn and Holman Cabin. It will be the spring of 2013 before I will be able to check it out.


Visited on Nov 25, 2012

by Elindio42 on Dec 06, 2012

Big Jacks Creek Wilderness Guide (Owyhee County, Idaho) Trail Map


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About the Author

Elindio42
Elindio42
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Retired DEA Special Agent. Walk, Hike, Horseback, Dirt Bike, & ATV. Sulk in bad weather and plan outdoor...

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