It was a rainy Friday morning on June 4th, 2010 when we left Kellogg. And it continued to rain as we made our way south on Highway 3 toward Clarkia. The drive was relatively nice but would have been better if the low clouds had cleared some so we could see more of the scenery in this area. Highway 3 follows a very lush river valley with lots of small and large lakes and roughly along the St. Maries River. Finding the Emerald Creek turn-off was rather easy as it is marked by signs and is located about 6 miles north of Clarkia. Once you start heading southwest on the gravel road you just need to watch for signs to the parking area. The gravel road was in relatively good shape considering all the rain that had fallen during the previous few days. Nothing a regular car couldn't easily handle.
Up to the Emerald Creek Star Garnet Area
The rain had tapered off for the most part as we parked our car but it still looked like rain was possible at any moment. For this reason we didn't bring our camera so there will be no pictures from us at the mining area. The hike from the parking lot to the National Forest Service run star garnet collecting area is an easy ½ mile up a well traveled path/road.
Star Garnet Hounding Area
Once you make it up the trail, there is a semi-flat area with a small open tent the Forest service folks use as their base of operation. Just pay your $10 and they will tell you how to find the prized Idaho star garnets. Basically there is a large pile of dirt and rocks located close by. Buckets, shovels and sifting boxes are provided for you so you just need to fill the bucket and sift out the dirt, keeping the garnet bearing rock. Once you get a bucket full of dirt and rocks, you take it to the sluice located 30 feet away. The sluice works very well and it wasn't long before we started finding small pieces of what looks like dirty raisins. These raisins looking rocks are the star garnets.
All the rain they had during the past week it made our rock hounding experience a lot more difficult. The garnet dirt pile was quite muddy making for heavy buckets, mud clogged sifting boxes and 2-4 inches of muck to walk around on. This whole process would have been a lot easier (maybe not more fun) if the garnet bearing dirt was just a little less muddy. But all the folks up there trying to find garnets were in good spirits making it a great experience. If you go, you will find star garnets...there's no doubt about that!
These are most of the star garnets we found at the Emerald Creek Garnet Area
What We Collected
We spent about 2 hours up at the mining area and came home with about 5 ounces of star garnets. Some are quite small and some are likely big enough to get cut into jewelry sized pieces. As it turned out, we had the honor of meeting the owners of our local Mountain Home Stoecker Jewelers at the mine. It's a small world when you can meet someone from you home town on a mountain in the middle of Idaho.
Link to Emerald Creek Garnet Area
Link to Map of the Rock Hounding Area
Thanks for visiting and commenting on this outdoor and rockhounding article.
The Bondyweb.Com author
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