It’s Autumn! Get Out and Hike

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

Ah, September in Sun Valley: Cool mornings and evenings; warm sunny days; the always-evolving alchemy of aspen leaves as they turn bright gold. Though each season here certainly has its merits, there is something truly spectacular about autumn.

And with the children back in school, the booked-to-the-minute fun of Labor Day weekend behind us, it’s time to get out there and take a hike. Though many local trails were temporarily closed in August due to the Beaver Creek Fire, right now, local hiking is at its peak.

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

Whether you have lived in Sun Valley your entire life or are just visiting for the weekend, a great place to start a September hike is at the Hemingway Memorial just east of the Sun Valley Lodge on Trail Creek Road. The memorial features a likeness of the legendary writer who completed For Whom the Bell Tolls in suite 206 at the Lodge, and is tucked beneath shady trees on the banks of Trail Creek. Stone benches in the shape of a half moon offer a place to sit and reflect on the inscription that reminds Hemingway is laid to rest in the Ketchum Cemetery:

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.

From this very unique, and very nearby, trailhead, miles of beautiful single track wend through Proctor Mountain. For the novice, gentle walks lead along the creek and east. Craving more vertical? Numerous trails climb to the saddle of Proctor, offering fantastic views in every direction, including one of the best ones around of Baldy. If you’re up for a challenge, the Ruud Mountain trail cuts steeply right to the more traditional Proctor Mountain trails, leading to, and beyond, one of the first chairlifts in the world.

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Also “in town” are popular hiking and biking trails near the White Clouds golf course across from Sun Valley Resort. Don’t forget Bald Mountain offers a great cardiac workout, terrific views and the possibility of a fabulous lunch to reward you for your efforts. Start at the River Run side of the hill and bear right to the Bald Mountain Trail. This leads, in switchbacks, both to the Roundhouse Restaurant (offering a fabulous barbecue deck lunch through September 8), and all the way to the summit. If you want to channel your inner local, head straight up the Warm Springs or River Run ski runs to the top. It’s an unbeatable workout and who knows, maybe you will want to take the Baldy Hill Climb later this month.

Slightly further afield, but still a very short drive from town, the Adams Gulch trailhead just north of Ketchum provides many trail options for hiking and mountain biking, as do Chocolate Gulch and Fox Creek. To the east, a hike to the historic Pioneer Cabin (there are three different routes up) is one of the most beautiful in the area. In the fall, this very popular hike is more lightly traveled and it is the perfect time to go.

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real pay out is cresting the final ridge

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real payout is cresting the final ridge

For all these hikes, remember, even if the trailhead is right up the street, you are in altitude and the autumn weather can be variable so be prepared. Bring plenty of water and a light rain shell, layers, wear comfortable sturdy shoes, bring a snack or lunch and sunscreen is a must.

For a full list of current trail conditions, please click HERE.

September is the most beautiful hiking month in the Wood River Valley, at least by my account. Take some time for yourself, get out there and hit the trails!


Mrs. Sun gets her shotgun

Gun Club manager J.C. Dovey had his work cut out for him teaching Mrs. Sun how to shoot a shotgun.

As the welcome chill of fall enters the air, Sun Valley Resort looks to its third season. For some, notably the area’s most famous resident Ernest Hemingway, fall is their favorite time of year in the Wood River Valley.

The opportunity to participate in one of Hemingway’s favorite fall activities is one not to be missed. And you don’t even have to kill anything. While Hemingway was an avid hunter, the Sun Valley Gun Club offers the chance for everyone from the most experienced to the novice to get their hands on a shotgun.

I headed to the historic club to see what it felt like to have a shotgun in my city-bred hands. Manager J.C. Dovey took me under his wing, but not before giving me the grand tour of the facilities.

Almost as old as the resort itself, the Gun Club was once one of the most popular non-winter activities here. Pictures along the wall of the club show hundred of shooters lined up at the original club in the shadow of Bald Mounatin during one of the many “shoots” the resort hosted over the years, stretching all the way back to 1936.

The club’s structure is still the original building that once stood across Sun Valley Lake along what is now Fairway Road. “It is actually made from the old Proctor and Ruud sandwich shacks [or day lodges as they were more grandly called],” Dovey said.

After undergoing a few re-locations (the first fifty or so years ago to what is now the White Clouds Golf Course, and then to its current home, a mile east of the Lodge down Trail Creek Road, in 2006), and the installation of marble bathrooms (“I rent them out as baptismal fonts,” joked Dovey), the Gun Club and has re-captured its former glory. This summer the shooting range was a veritable hot bed of activity. While I was waiting for my lesson the phone rang off the hook with would-be shooters. But Dovey assures me fall is the time to be here, it’s a little quieter and is when the locals move in. “About 25 percent of our guests here are locals and regulars, seasoned shooters who own their own guns,” Dovey said.

The lion’s share of the other 75 percent are once-a-year shooters or beginners like myself who have never held a shotgun before. Dovey tells me this is unique in the world of gun clubs. “We get so many people here who have never shot, but we have extensive teaching staff,” he said with obvious pride. “The only other similar club is Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, but we actually do more lessons than they do.”

Sun Valley’s Gun Club is very much a teaching facility with the price of a lesson included in the rental of equipment. “It’s rare for a gun club, we have 5 or 6 instructors,” Dovey said.

Dovey and his team pride themselves on not letting a novice leave without hitting one of those orange clay thingys. So, when I decided to join a long line of resort guests, including many Hollywood celebrities such as Anne Southern, and make the Sun Valley Gun Club my first experience with that icon of the Wild West the shotgun, Dovey had his work cut out for him.

Rudy Etchen - son of Gun Club manager Fred Etchen who was Sun Valley's first Olympic gold medal winner (winning gold for team trapshooting in the 1924 Olympics) - was considered the greatest shotgun shot that ever lived. Pictured here in 1958 with actress Anne Southern, Rudy was one of the instructors at the resort. Today J.C. Dovey and his team continue the Sun Valley tradition of excellent instructors.

Standing at the far end of the shooting range, escaping the hooting and hollering emanating from the group of Idaho Milk Processors’ indulging in something called an “Annie Oakley,” I picked up my first shotgun with trepidation. Orange earplugs firmly shoved in my ears and my shooting stance adopted, Dovey talked me through how I would shoot my first shot. Not suprisingly I missed by a mile. His words were, “I’d shoot it sooner. Try for this county, not Camas.”

I could tell there was some pride at stake here, but Dovey maintained his calm, encouraging tone and before we were through the entire box of shells I had actually hit one. The sound of my hooting and hollering even shut the milk processors up for a few minutes.

While it was a lot of fun, I had to conclude that I’m just not a gun-toting type. But I highly recommend giving it a shot, it’s something of a rite of passage for anyone that wants to call themselves an Idahoan.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

The Sun Valley Gun Club offers Trap, Double Trap, Wobble Trap, Skeet, Duck Tower, 5-Stand and Sporting Clays. Open 7 days a week 10 a.m.–4 p.m. through October. For rates and more details click here. On Sept. 22 the club is hosting a “Sporting Clay Fun Shoot!” 100 targets for $50, including lunch. Prizes on offer for 1st and 2nd place shooters. Call 208.622.2111 or email A special $149 Fun-Shoot room package is available, call 1.800.786.8259.