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Hiking to the End of the Centennial Trail
Just north of Upper Priest Lake is the last leg of Idaho Centennial Trail. It follows the Priest River to the Canadian border. The last seven miles of the state long trail was something Clay Jacobsen felt compelled to travel. In 2015, after hiking nine hundred miles, all the way from the Nevada border, Jacobsen was stopped from finishing those last few miles by a forest fire. So he came back and joined a couple of local hikers to complete the epic hike.
So I had gone, you know, 99 percent of the way through the trail, reached the last trailhead, and the last seven miles of the trail was closed. A year later here I am back on the trail, pretty much still on this journey of being involved in hiking, being out in the backcountry in Idaho, paving the way for the next hikers to come through.
Jacobsen works for the Idaho Trails Association, a non-profit group whose mission is preserving trails. One of his focuses is Idaho's Centennial Trail.
I think the Centennial Trail has a really bright future. Compared to the rest of the trails in the United States, the Centennial Trail offers things that the other ones don't. It's the biggest wilderness area, some of the most remote areas. And people are starting to do one, two, three of these long distance hikes, and they're looking for new challenges.
A local Forest Service employee, Debbie Butler, joined Jacobsen for his hike to the end of the Centennial Trail. She's lived in the area for almost thirty years and loves this part of the trail. She particularly enjoys the culmination of the trail, a waterfall very near the Canadian border that marks the end of the trail. Called American Falls or also Upper Priest Falls, the cascade is a fitting finale for a trail that runs the length of the state.
It's just kind of mesmerizing, just sitting there and watching the falls, and just watching the logs, you know, twirl around in the pool there and then just kind of thinking, those came from Canada, those originated up in Canada. And just the trip they made, their journey, to make it down here.
I spent two and a half months hiking to get to this waterfall and never got to see it, so to come back here and finally see the falls that was my mission. Coming back is awesome. I'm happy I got the chance. It's a gorgeous place to end up, the northern terminus of the trail, unlike any other place in Idaho. It's just a special place.