Deer Creek Dugouts

Total Miles
0.7

Elevation

1333.01 ft

Duration

Hours

Technical Rating

1

Easy

Best Time

summer, fall, spring

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Trail Overview

This is a neat and quick little out and back trail across the Salmon River for those looking for some quirky Idaho History. Two of "Dugout Dick's" Cave Cabins have been preserved with a parking area and informational signage. The trail begins by crossing an old one-lane wooden bridge. The views out across the river from the bridge are beautiful with the sight of an older bridge just down the way. That one is closed but neat to take a look at. The dirt road then runs along the Salmon River for a short way with some unique tall rock formations in the curve of the river. Just past the curve take a left down to the Dugouts. The road to the dugouts is a bit rutted and would be muddy and more difficult when wet. There is a large dirt parking area and turnaround. There are walking paths up to the historic cave cabins as well as some paths down to the river.

Difficulty

Easy

History

In 1948, Dugout Dick got to work using only a pick-axe, a shovel, a wheelbarrow and his bare hands. He outfitted his cave with scraps and cast-offs, and moved in. Then he made another. And another. Until his death in 2010, Dugout Dick carved out an entire village of caves, renting some out to campers, sojourners, and like-minded "off the grid" homesteaders ($2 a night, or $25 a month). Dugout was never actually deeded the land, and although essentially a squatter, local authorities and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) understood his place in the history of Idaho wanderers and settlers. They granted him lifetime rights, with the understanding that the land would be reclaimed by the BLM after he passed away. He squeezed as much time as he could out of the deal, living off the land until the age of 94. After Dugout died, the BLM came in, and--to the dismay of locals and media alike--destroyed the caves citing health and safety concerns. The hillside along the Salmon River off US Hwy 93 shows little sign of the former cave village, but follow the old wooden bridge and dirt road to the former site and there you'll find the memorial, the old cabin, and the story of an Idaho legend.

Technical Rating

1

Access Description

From Salmon, Idaho, follow US-93 south for about 19 miles. Just past a small farm on your right and a collection of four white mailboxes, there is a right-hand turn-off to a one-lane wooden bridge.