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Little Slate Creek Roadless Area

Jeremy Jenkins Credit. Click map to zoom.

Little Slate Creek Roadless Area is 12,000 acres and located on the divide between the Salmon River and Slate Creek. The region is characterized by steep side slopes and draws where numerous Slate Creek tributaries furrow the landscape. Some flat benches at mid-elevations relieve sharp inclines. Elevation ranges from 2,100 feet where Slate Creek crosses the National Forest boundary to 7,370 feet just below Nut Basin, where a 2-acre lake of the same name lies rather unexpectedly, nurturing a large population of eastern brook trout. The area is almost completely forested with a majority of Douglas fir. The vegetation screen provides quality ungulate range in summer and winter. Consequently, the area is a popular hunting destination. Steelhead, Chinook summer salmon, and bull trout also thrive.

Certain pockets invite solitude, such as the ominously named Deadhorse Creek, hidden in the interior and scenic points such as Slate Point, Dead Point, and Nut Point. Trail 307 that runs west to east is part of the old miners’ route to Florence, which is outside of the roadless area. Gold was discovered in Florence Basin in the summer of 1861 and by November there were 2,000 miners in the camp. However, the winter of 1861-62 was one of the coldest in Idaho history and Van Buren Creek—a key drainage—was named after a traveler who froze to death there. Besides trails and some grazing by domestic cattle (which conflicts with healthy fisheries), the landscape within the roadless area has maintained its natural integrity. Unfortunately, off-site intrusions are apparent from the hills and ridges, and ORV damage creates unnecessary stress on the land.

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