New Identifier C53
This is a very difficult 1200' long backcountry airstrip. Go-arounds are not feasible. Have an experienced pilot who knows the airstrip take you in the first time.
Camping is not allowed in the fenced runway area, but is permitted nearby at the Big Loon Camp on the mouth of Loon Creek.
Hotsprings are a rare attraction located about one mile south of the airstrip. From the airstrip walk south toward the cabins and cross the bridge on Lower Loon Creek, and follow the trail for about a mile. The pool is about 3'-4' deep and 10' by 20' wide. The temp is approximately 120 degrees.
Due to the short runway length, it is possible to land and not be able to take off, especially in the summer. A typical scenario is landing early in the morning when the air is cool and calm, walking to the hot tub, and then staying too long so that the heat and turbulence later in the day make it too dangerous to attempt a takeoff. In a case like this, you would probably want to consider waiting until late in the afternoon or early the next morning to take off, when the air is again cool and calm. Plan ahead and have camping gear available if there is a chance you might need to spend the night. Taking off late in the afternoon can be a little tricky because the fading light and shadows result in fewer visual clues down in the canyons, especially if you have to do some low level maneuvering (see below).
Takeoff normally involves turning right immediately off the departure end and flying down the Middle Fork canyon toward lower terrain until sufficient altitude is gained to proceed to your destination. After the right turn, there are tall trees within a quarter mile lining both sides of the river and if you can't clear them, then you can fly between them, over the river. This will require some maneuvering turns at low altitude because the river has some fairly significant turns just downstream of the airstrip.
Lower Loon airstrip is also used to service rafters on the river. Commercial operators fly in and out during the summer, typically early in the morning, so watch out for other airplanes. There is a rafter camp about a quarter mile south of the airstrip and another one about a half mile north of the airstrip. The rafters also like to use the hot tub and usually arrive there sometime around lunch and stay for the rest of the day and into the night. Share the fun and maybe strike up some interesting conversations.
The main Middle Fork trail goes north about 25 miles to its confluence with Big Creek. A nice hike with views all along the way is north to Hospital Bar, a hike of about 3 miles from the airstrip. Hospital Bar is on the opposite side of the river and not accessible from the trail. Another hike is south up Loon Creek to Benet pack bridge, a distance of about 2.5 miles from the airstrip or about 1.5 miles north of the hot tub (from the airstrip, follow the directions above under "hotsprings"). The views of Loon Creek canyon/gorge are fantastic. The main Middle Fork trail goes south for many miles. A nice hike with good views all along the way is south to the pack bridge crossing the Middle Fork, about 2 - 3 miles from the airstrip. Although the Middle Fork trail continues on, a second trail heading south picks up at the bridge but on the other side of the river, paralleling the Middle Fork trail. Either trial has great views heading south.
Lat: 44.80867119444 , Long: -114.80865988889 - IDAHO, USA
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