Beaverhead County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: August 4, 2009
Author: Adam Helman

note: All coordinates employ the WGS84 datum.

This effort was part of a larger journey collecting Idaho, Montana, and Washington county highpoints in late July and August 2009.

Some comments about the approach follow.

At Interstate-15 Exit 74 zero your odometer. At 4.5 miles enter the national forest, bearing right at 8.2 miles. Bear right again, heading uphill, at 9.4 miles. Descend into the valley, pass by a residence on your left, and reascend the other side under deteriorating road conditions.

At 15.3 miles is a cattle guard. By now one is reduced to driving quite slowly; and at 15.7 miles bear left onto a road signed "unmaintained road". Those without little guts but with a measure of sensibility will park here rather than descend this last road. You are now 1.1 miles from the (actual) trailhead.

0.5 mile along this road is a rock step that will stop cold any vehicle without high clearance. Here I encountered a vehicle PARKED ON THE ROAD, with plates "CINAMN GRL".

I honked (this device has a valid purpose); and then was able to squeeze my pickup truck past the offending unit without hitting a tree by driving onto the brush just off-road. Just one-tenth mile later is this overweight teenage girl walking her dog back to the vehicle. Unrolling my window, I asked, "Are you Cinnamon Girl?". After confirming her identity, I paused and then said, "I'm sure you KNOW that parking right on a road is something you should NEVER do." She agreed, although appeared annoyed as if I had done something wrong. Then, "I'm sure you won't be doing that in the future." End of conversation.

Drive an additional 0.6 mile. The road improves after that rock hump, and it's a shame that many motorists are forced to stop short of the trailhead simply because of a single, short, bad section.

The trailhead coordinates are (45.49407° N, 112.90838° W), elevation 7,500 feet. The last figure is not a rounded value.

Some comments about the route follow.

The Old/New trail junction has a room-sized boulder 20 feet south of the trail (to your left on the ascent). After taking the Old trail a ways, encounter a meadow noted in other reports. Save the meadow's coordinates for your return!!

As per Andy Martin's report, contour westbound from the meadow after crossing the inlet stream; all-the-while going under a set of cliffs. Eventually reach 9,200 feet at a set of low-angled slabs, turn south, and climb 200 feet to a 9,400 foot bench at the base of your route's crux: a moderately-angled talus slope that stretches clear to 11,050 feet.

The first roughly 500 feet is grassy, which is good for footing. Thereafter one finds only talus and boulders. Upon reaching the summit ridge, look to the right and note the nearby subpeak. The true summit lies beyond, perhaps 50 feet higher still and 100-200 yards horizontally. Of course you might not reach the summit ridge exactly where I did...

On-top I spied nearby Torrey Peak and wondered how on EARTH Bob Packard managed to hike between the two peaks. Delicious salmon candy and cream cheese sandwich with onion.

My round trip consumed a tad over 7 hours.