Iron Mountain

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The Iron Mountain lookout via Blue Ridge is a long hike, but well worth the effort.

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We followed the directions in Tom Lopez's book "Idaho: A Climbing Guide" and they got us to the trailhead without a problem. However, Tom lists the summit at 9694' while the sign on the lookout says 9710'. Who argues with the Gummint? Also, Tom says it's 22 miles round trip (so does my Topo software), but based on time and my legs/feet, I think it's more like 24.

We left town shortly after 4:30am under cloudy skies. I was wondering about my decision not to bring my poncho, but it didn't look so bad when we left the car at 7am.

However, Iron Mountain looked a long way away.

Iron Mountain in the distance

The route starts with a stiff climb up to the ridge top. From there, it's really a pretty cruisy walk. Where possible, we avoided the devastated rocky scar left by ATVs. The trail tread was smooth and narrow- very nice walking.

Note: Write to your congressmen and ask them to ban offroad motor vehicles in the backcountry.

Iron Mountain after walking for an hour or so

By the map, half way is at the saddle marking the descent into the basin.

Half way to Iron Mountain

The basin is forested, and the trail winds around to several different aspects of the ridges and crosses several small streams. As it turns out, you don't really leave the West fork of Lime Creek until it's really obvious. But we were worried- not wanting to add unnecessary mileage.

But we made the bottom of the actual climb right at 11. Two thousand feet to go!

The ATV trail heading up the face of Iron Mountain

The views come fast on the climb, and soon you've passed the saddle and are on the final approach.

Above the saddle on Iron Mountain

We did this last stretch in exactly an hour. So we sat on the foundation of the old lookout and enjoyed a well-earned lunch break.

Dylan and John on summit of Iron Mountain

The view back to Smoky Dome was outstanding. Actually, it was good in every direction, despite the overcast.

Soldieer Mountains and Smoky Dome
We had a good view of our hiking route on Blue Ridge. Blue Ridge
We found the old trail, and opted to enjoy that instead of the eroded ATV route. To find it on your way up, look back behind to your left when you are about 100 yards short of the saddle onto the ridge. Below that, I think it's under the ATV scar. Old trail on Iron Mountain

When we got back to the base of the climb, we found this homeless person- apparently her shopping cart had a flat tire? We gave her a fiver for some Ripple and went on our way, getting back to the car around 4:30.

Not bad, considering it was exactly 2 years ago that I broke my leg.

Street person on Iron Mountain

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski