Sheep Mountain


A nice fall hike up Sheep Mountain starts brisk, ends in sunshine, but is devoid of animals (sorry, hunters).


Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

We were thinking about going into the Sawtooths, but the weather didn't look promising. Poor driving conditions and "between" snow coverage- too much to summit easily and not enough to snowshoe or ski.

Instead we chose to climb Sheep Mountain from Roaring River off the middle fork of the Boise River. We left Boise at about 6:15 and started walking at 8:45. It was brisk- about 31 degrees.

I had passed this trailhead before- there is even a big sign. But I had no idea the trail was in such good shape. It had recent motorcycle tracks on a very flat tread (well, not flat on some of the steep areas, where the tires had left a v-notch to walk in).




The trail winds around, back and forth and across the rolling, grassy hillside. As we got out of the canyon bottom, it felt good to be in the sun. Also, it felt good to be away from the road and all the gun-toters.

I must have misunderstood the hunting regs- I thought it said Area 39 wasn't open until the 10th. But on the drive in and out we saw a lot of people walking, in cars, and on ATVs with gun(s) in hand. But as I suspected, no boot tracks on the trail.

Grassy hillsides

The trail climbs steadily with few interruptions to the constant altitude gain. On easy tread, it took just over an hour to reach the intersection on the ridge crest, 1700' above the car. This is looking down the old trail to Alexander Flats.

The old sign here gives some (erroneous) distances:

  • Alexander Flats 2 (not)
  • Roaring River 2
  • Sheep Mountain 6

I have a theory that the FS doesn't provide fractions or decimal places because some wank said it saves tax dollars.

Trail junction

With all that open grassy hillside, the views were great. This picture shows the trail we walked to get up here. Click for a bigger version.

That's Steel Mountain behind the little fog cloud.

Looking back at the trail

Once you hit the ridge, the trail flattens somewhat as you head south. But it is still climbing. It wasn't much later that we hit solid, continuous snow. Mostly, it was 1-2" deep. But it got deeper near the summit.


As the snow got deeper, the work load went up. But it was plenty cold, as evidenced by the snow in the trees- not melting at all. As you near the summit ridge, it gets steeper again, so the snow and angle made the last bit to seem like work. But we got there quickly, nonetheless. The saddle of the summit ridge has a sign (in the background, just under Tom's butt) that declares it to be the summit.

Since there was a boulder, Tom had to go bouldering, snowy running shoes and all.


The real summit is a couple hundred feet above the saddle. We arrived exactly at noon. There was a light breeze, which made it cool. And the clouds made it look like it might snow on us.

But we were prepared, so we enjoyed 360 degree views while we chowed our single sandwich and a can of herring in tomato-basil sauce.


The red line shows most of our route.

Despite the clouds, we could see quite a bit of country. That's Goat Peak marked with the red slash, visited by Julie and I last year. We could also see Heinen, Bogus, Thorn Creek, Pilot, Wolf, Swanholm, West and East Warrior, the Sawtooths, Steel, House, the Trinitys, Lava, and Rattlesnake (most of which I've visited). Route

Near the summit saddle, there is a huge rock tower. After lunch, we hiked over and checked it out. Fantastic shapes, but crumbly rock.

Then we clambered over the lower west summit, and parted for the car at about 1:10.



As we hiked back down the trail, the clouds blew off and we ended the hike as we began- in the sunshine. We got back to the car at 4:10, and back home at 6:30, for just a little over a 12 hour day. Odd: it only took us 15 minutes less to descend than to climb.

PS- Next summer, we will definitely be riding *down* this trail on our mountain bikes.....


Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski