With the feel of fall in the air, prime hiking season is just beginning.
September and early October are probably the best times for hiking as the insects are nearly gone, the weather is dry but not overly hot, and there are fewer people using the trails.
Indian Heaven Wilderness is the place to go now for your hiking enjoyment, with its high alpine setting, many lakes, open meadows, forested areas, and wonderful scenery.
It's too late to make reservations at the concessionary run campgrounds for Labor Day weekend, but there are several sites in each campground for first-come, first-serve campers.
Many campgrounds will begin closing for the season beginning Sept. 10, with only a few remaining open through hunting season.
Steelhead and salmon fishing in Drano Lake, mouth of Wind River and Big White Salmon is hot now. Good fishing should last at these locations well into September.
Trout fishing in most lakes on the forest is slow, but will be improving as soon as the water temperatures begin dropping.
Huckleberries are ripe and abundant in all the fields, with the higher fields just coming into their prime. Unless we get a killing frost, berry picking should last through the middle of September.
Last week's rain will help to bring the early fall mushrooms on. The lower elevations (2500 feet and under) are the places to start checking now.
If the weather turns hot and dry they may slow down but there will still be mushrooms available.
Saturday is the first day of early elk and deer archery season.
The populations are down from past years and most animals are going to be in heavy cover. I would not expect much success during the first part of the season.
Grouse season also opens Sept. 1, but blue grouse are few in number and it will take three or four years for them to come back to a good level.
Ruffled grouse did have a good hatch and will be the primary birds you will find this year.
With hunting season starting, All-Terrain Vehicles will also begin showing up more on the forest.
ATVs are not allowed on any forest road, the only exception being the Middle/Service trail. If you watch the hunting shows on TV you see a lot of ATVs being used, mostly this in on private property and not public lands.
To avoid a conflict, please just leave the ATV home when coming out onto the National Forest.