Independence Creek National Recreation Trail

Prichard Creek Rd
Murray, ID 83874

The Independence Creek drainage on Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District is an area which has retained its pristine character despite the effects of some major forest fires since the turn of the century. Although most of the area was burned in the famous 1910 fire, there are still few visible signs of man's influence on the land. The area was first roaded sometime before World War 1 when a wagon road was constructed to link Pend Oreille Lake and the Lakeview mines with Independence and Tepee Creek valleys. Now the route of recreation trail 22, the old wagon road was the first developed access into what is known as "the Magee country." This road served logging camps, homesteaders, and the Forest Service until the early 1930s when the present road system began to take shape. While the old Independence wagon road was in use, several facilities were developed along its route. These included a halfway camp with a cabin and corrals, a Forest Service smokechaser cabin, and a splash dam which was used to raise the water level for log drives down the creek. These improvements have all vanished, leaving behind only the recreation trail which winds its way from Weber Saddle down to Independence Creek and on down the creek to its mouth, crossing the creek numerous times along the old wagon road's course. Several side trails now lead into the Independence Creek Trail. A total of 34 miles of trail covers most of the drainage, providing good access to one of the most enjoyable areas on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Hunting, fishing, dispersed camping, hiking, horseback riding, and motorbike riding are some of the recreational pursuits which may be enjoyed in the area. There is a diverse wildlife population in the drainage. Elk, whitetail and mule deer, black bear, porcupine, badger, beaver, squirrel, and coyote are some of the more common mammals. Moose cougar, and lynx are also seen infrequently. Along with common songbirds, visitors may see the golden eagle, Cooper's hawk, redtail hawk, mallard, merganser, and the unusual water ousel. This drab little bird which nests behind waterfalls abounds along Independence Creek. Visitors rarely hear its beautiful many-noted song, but sightings of the bird are common as it bobs along the banks or walks entirely underwater searching for insects.

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