Jefferson County Highpoint Trip Report

Crow Peak (9,415 feet) and Elkhorn Peak (9,400+ feet)

Date: August 5, 2009
Author: Adam Helman

Note: All coordinates use the WGS84 datum.

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

This report is a facts-only account of how to combine Crow and Elkhorns Peaks as I experienced.

Zero your odometer at (46.27575°N, 111.94184°W) - a junction at the northeast edge of Elkhorn community. Head south towards the cemetery, signed as 3/4 mile.

At 0.4 mile bear left at a junction signed as "DESIGNATED ROUTE"; having already turned roughly sixty degrees left after one-third mile.

Drive 1.4 miles on narrow yet good dirt to a 4-way junction (total of 1.8 miles) 15 yards past a creek crossing. Park here. I camped for the night. There is an abandoned, partly destroyed log cabin.

Hike northeast on the road signed "Leslie Lake 3" etc... with 1,400 feet of elevation gain (so reaching 7,850 feet). The road had two nasty stream crossings lower down. Reach a junction with sign "Trail 131 2" immediately to your left.

You may wish to take photographs of the small meadows immediately north of the junction on either side of "Leslie Lake 3/4, Trail 75". These meadows had a large variety of colorful flowers. Perhaps, then, one should time a visit for early August to reproduce what I saw.

Take this trail (initially a road) to the southest corner of Leslie Lake. There is a 75 foot drop enroute. The trail stays at lake-level around the east side apart from a 25 foot rise and descent over a rock outcrop halway along the lake's extent. The trail is difficult to follow left around the northern shore.

At the lake's northwest edge the trail departs the shoreline heading north; and becomes an unmaintained, closed road. The road/track parallels the Leslie Lake inlet stream, eventually turning northeast at about 8,200 feet. Here the road was inundated with water, and, worse, several large trees block passage. Avoid them by veering to the right. It is clear that the Forest Service has no intention of clearing this mess ("Closed Road").

The road dried-out, and passes by an abandoned mining operation (fascinating for history buffs!) with one larger structure and several smaller ones. The road continues, now southeast and initally steeply, passing an obscure junction with a closed route to your left at 8,500 feet.

Turn left (north) onto the closed route, and take it to the ridge ridge at nearly 8,900 feet. The route is slowly returning to Nature, and as of 2009 is difficult to follow in two locations. SAVE COORDINATES AT THE RIDGE FOR YOUR RETURN.

Walk due west 1.0 mile to the summit of Crow Peak, disregarding the subpeak seen while on this section.

The most direct route to Elkhorn Peak entails a LOT of talus-hopping. Avoid this by descending on grass, followed by easy travel in the forest at the talus field's lower edge. This route goes 100 feet below the saddle, yet is worth the extra elevation gain to avoid the talus fields.

Elkhorn has a very large summit windbreak. The Elkhorn ghost town / village is visible. I could not see the "mining road" of Tim Worth's report. Not wishing a bushwhack clear to Elkhorn village, I returned the ascent route even though the distance would be shortened with Tim's loop route.

Return via a saddle connecting Crow Peak with that eastern subpeak, so avoiding 100 feet of reascent to Crow Peak itself.

Continue returning the route of ascent.

Due to route deterioration, eventually it will be better to bushwhack directly northeast from the southeast margin of Leslie Lake; and then north to the Crow Peak east ridge at roughly 8,900 feet.


GPS-derived summit elevations (accuracy ca 30 feet) show Crow Peak higher than Elkhorn Peak by 5 feet.

The total distance is calculated here.

The sum, 6 1/2 miles, is doubled for a 13 mile round-trip distance.

The net elevation gain is 3,000 feet. The total elevation gain is calculated thusly.

Thus obtain an additional elevation gain of 2 x (75 + 25) + 600 + 500 = 1,300 feet; and a
total elevation gain of 3,000 + 1,300 = 4,300 feet.

I took roughly 3 hours to reach Crow Peak's summit. The round-trip consumed 7 hours 35 minutes.