Valley County High Point Trip Report

Big Baldy (9,705 ft)

Dates: August 25-27, 2001
Author: Ken Jones

Note: This is a long backpack, and parts are slower than they look on a map. A strong climber could do it in two days, but I was glad to take 3.

Drive: On Idaho state route 55, just north of the town of Cascade, turn east on Forest Road 22 (signed "Warm Lake"). Follow this paved road past the resort area of Warm Lake and continue easterly on pavement (now FR 579) to Landmark junction (33.7 miles from SR 55). Reset odometer (0.0). Continue straight ahead to a bridge (0.2 mile) and cross the river (now on FR 447 - 579 went south on the west side of the river). The pavement ends in this vicinity, but the dirt roads were in fine condition all the way to the trailhead. Stay on FR 447 to the trailhead. Landmarks along the way are a junction at 4.0 miles, signed "Artillery Dome" - keep left; a bridge over signed "Burntlog Creek" at 7.8 miles; and two more bridges at 11.5 and 12.9 miles. There are some forks with roads of various quality, many unsigned, but the main road is always obvious. The trailhead is reached 17.1 miles from Landmark junction. A sign on the right shows trail number 090 heading up to the ridge.

Hike: Backpack up trail 090 to the ridge. Here you intersect a north-south trail. Turn left toward Chilcoot Pass. The trail drops east from Chilcoot Pass; below the basin (water available) it reaches a junction (around 8000 feet) - bear left up through a shallow saddle and down to intersect a road. (Bob Packard found access to this road closed by downed timber at a spot much lower than the trailhead described in this write-up. If it can be driven, you could cut some effort from this trip). Note where this junction is for your return trip, then turn right and walk up the road. At a sharp switchback (around 8300 feet) look for the trail heading left toward Pistol Rock. Follow the trail to a junction in a saddle (around 8700 feet) and bear right. You are now on the Big Baldy Ridge trail, which you can follow all the way to the peak vicinity. The only reliable water between here and the peak is at Buck Lake, where we camped (about 12 miles from the car). Before reaching Buck Lake you will start passing through burned areas. As of August 2001, there had been no trail maintenance since the burn, and there were a lot of downed trees to climb over or around between here and the summit. We did not find the mapped spur trails leading off the ridge. Near the summit, the trail takes the long way around. You can head straight up to the top when conditions look good to you. A register, benchmark, and lookout tower grace the summit.

Round-trip statistics: About 30 miles, 7300 feet of gain (1700 feet net), 2 or 3 days duration.