This is our ATV trip report to Josephus Lake on Sunday September 19th, 2010. We called the area we travel through the Seafoam Lake Area because I cannot find a better name for it anywhere. Where is Josephus Lake? It is located about 25 miles north-northwest of Stanley, Idaho in the Challis National Forest.
Click to see a map of Josephus Lake: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=111249431318674283266.000490b03e001425f2eb7&z=19
Getting To Josephus Lake
The Seafoam Lake area looks like a popular camping spot off Highway 21 in a beautiful forested area close to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Once you get off the highway (44.393509, -115.174012) there is a great gravel road tracking north for about 6 miles. At the Beaver Creek / National Forest Road 172 intersection ( 44.444571, -115.100048) the road starts getting a little rough as it starts climbing towards Vanity Summit. We parked our truck near this intersection and unloaded the Arctic Cat ATV and headed for the summit.
Click to see a better photo of Vanity Summit Lake
On top of Vanity Summit we took a side trail to a lake we called Vanity Lake (44.486408, -115.093688). The road/trail to the Vanity Lake isn't really suited for anything other than a stout 4 wheel vehicle. This lake sits in a high basin that contains a couple more lakes above the 7,800 feet point. It really is quite a beautiful lake with some cool places to camp if you could get your stuff up there. And plenty of people have done this. While we didn't see any fish in Vanity Lake, there are likely some trout swimming around in it. We spent some time admiring the scenery before heading back to the main road called National Forest Road 8 / Seafoam Road.
Click to see Vanity Creek and aspens photo
We headed down off of Vanity Summit towards the Seafoam Creek Ranger Station(?). This road is pretty much dug right into the side of the mountains with a rather steep cliff dropping into Vanity Creek below. The scenery is quite stunning and the road narrows quite a bit in this area. We pulled over to let a few pick-up truck pass by us. I'd much preferred to be on a ATV than my pick-up as the road is rocky and rough but easily passable in a vehicle with good tires. We stopped a few times along this section to ogle at the scenery and the colorful aspen trees and then continued down to the Seafoam Creek Ranger Station(?).
Click to see "Minor Summit" full size photo
At the Seafoam Creek Ranger Station(?) we continued north and climbed up to another minor summit (44.566378, -115.071804) we interestingly enough called Minor Summit, at 6,300 feet. At this summit, the road heads straight west towards Josephus Lake but we stopped here for some more sightseeing. The views to the south are spectacular and looking straight down about 500 feet into river valley was a little scary. Well worth stopping here.
From Minor Summit we headed to Josephus Lake. The road from this point does get a just a little rougher and more narrow but passable in truck. It also climbs in elevation up to the 7,100 foot point where Josephus Lake is located.
Click to see Josephus Lake picnic area photo
Forest Service Road 8 ends at Josephus Lake and a small campground area. Josephus Lake appears to be two small lakes connected by a short stream and is quite scenic. We ate lunch on a picnic table in one of the camp spots and then headed down to the lakes. There looks to be a healthy population of trout in this crystal clear lake complex. We spent quite a while watching the trout from the bank as they surfaced to catch a bug or two. I'd say the fishing pressure on these trout are quite high and they are very wily fish. I certainly main one huge mistake on this ATV trip...I didn't bring my fishing pole with me.
While we were at Josephus it got kind of crowded as 4 different ATV's showed up with two people aboard each. Plus there were two trucks with horse trailer parked in the campground but they obviously were out in the high country for a while. With this evidence on a mid-September Sunday afternoon, I suspect this campground gets and stays filled up during our nice Idaho summers. There also appears to be some hiking trails that head into the wilderness areas around the lake so this seems like a great place to spend a few days during the mid-week.
Click to see the rock hounding area we visited
Rock Hounding in the Seafoam Area
This area is mining country so we naturally assumed we'd find some cool rocks along the route we traveled. This was not the case at all. We found a lot of poor examples of opal and a few nice specimens and came home with 5 rocks that would fit in the palm of your hand. I'm sure there are places to do some major good rock hounding but this wasn't our main objective. We just wanted to explore a totally new area before the snow starts flying.
See some more pictures from this trip: http://picasaweb.google.com/tim.bondy/JosephusLakeATVTrip?feat=directlink
As always, I encourage questions, comment and any advice you may have for ATV'ing, rock hounding or exploring new areas.
The Bondyweb.Com author
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