Huckleberry Season: Time to Get Picking

Huckleberry season is upon us and employees from the United States Forest Service reveal the secrets to finding the ripest berries at Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

One huckleberry picker say, "She said it's, like, her favorite past time because you can just, like, hangout and vent, and eat a bunch of huckleberries."

Picking huckleberries at the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a favorite past time that spans generations. For many families, their favorite spot for picking Idaho's state fruit is top secret.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest Botanist Rose Lehman says, "So I have to keep it pretty general where we are today. Otherwise, we give away secrets of where the huckleberries are, but we're on the Palisades District relatively close to Idaho Falls, Idaho."

Just yards away from the road, ripe huckleberries hang heavy with sweet juice, just ready to be picked. While the berries are generally in season from the end of July through August, a successful pick really depends on knowing where to look.

Lehman says, "Where you have cool-moist forests. So, once you're driving up the road and you leave the sage brush and you start seeing Douglas fir, and coniferous forest, and north facing slopes. At areas that are dark green with a lot of foliage because they like really deep-loamy soils in cool-moist areas of the forest."

Families are limited to four gallons of berries each year but knowing where to look can make filling up a bucket that much easier.

Stained fingers are a good sign of a productive huckleberry picking session. However, There are a few things you should know before you head out to the forests.

One of the things to know is how to be safe.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest Public Affairs Officer Sarah Wheeler says, "Grizzly bears and black bears like it. So, we ask people just be bear aware as you're out here. They're trying to eat as much as they can before winter comes along, so they're out a lot of times at the berry patches too, at some of those higher elevations, so just be aware of that."

Another thing to know is how to distinguish huckleberries from other plants.

Lehman says, "The branching on it is alternating. If you can see that instead of the leaf blades being opposite on the branches, they're alternating, and they [leaves] just have really fine serration along the edges."

By knowing where to look, what to look for and how to be safe, huckleberry picking can be fun and rewarding.

On Caribou-Targhee National Forest lands, huckleberry picking is limited to recreational use only.

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