With its lush old-growth forest and easy climbing grade, Thunder Creek is arguably the best of the feeder trails leading to the Shedroof Divide and the heart of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness. The trail begins just across the road from Gypsy Meadows, a popular dispersed camping area along Sullivan Creek. Thunder Creek is ideal as a dayhike for those camping nearby, or can be paired with other trails in the area to create longer backpacking routes.
Don't be discouraged by the trail's start along a converted roadbed through a recovering clearcut. Last logged sometime in the 1980s, the surrounding second-growth forest is growing tall enough to provide some shade as the trail ascends a gentle grade via a series of eight switchbacks in the first 2.2 miles. With some larch, cottonwoods, and aspen along the way, there can be some nice fall colors along the route. But things improve drastically as the trail enters the old growth forest, where numerous small streams are crossed by a total of 5 puncheons along with several turnpikes. Enjoy easy access to water while staying dry due to the trail structures, all while marveling at this rare-for-eastern-Washington ecosystem on the edge of an inland temperate rainforest. Old-growth cedar, hemlock, Engelmann spruce, and western larch grow to massive proportions along this trail.
At the three mile mark, the trail enters the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, and at the 5.1 mile mark it intersects the Shedroof Divide Trail. Day hikers may want to turn back at the junction (although even if planning an out and back, consider the additional short hike to the top of the first hill on the Shedroof Divide going north for its outstanding view overlooking Priest Lake and the Idaho Selkirks). With several intersecting trails along the Shedroof Divide, numerous route options are available for backpackers who wish to extend their time in the Salmo-Priest.