Gallagher Peak


Hidden in a seldom-visited area, Gallagher Peak becomes an instant favorite.

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

It's mud season in McCall; the Nordic grooming is shut down, the backcountry snow is crap, the hiking trails are inaccessible, and the mountain bike trails are too muddy to ride.

With the day off, I could either hike down at Riggins or head toward Boise. With the prediction of rain further north, I chose to head to the South Fork of the Payette past Garden Valley to explore Gallagher Peak.

If nothing else, there is scenery. I stopped at the animal observatory point, complete with big field glasses. Those elk seem close enough to touch.


And from the same spot, there's part of my hike. Follow the valley up to the dry saddle (not the snowy ridge behind) and then turn left.


I parked just down the road. You could drive up this dirt road, but I wasn't in a hurry and didn't know what the road might be like. And I was hoping to follow the trail that shows on the FS map (it doesn't show on the standard topo), and that trail was already behind me.


I walked up the road a bit, then followed the left fork as it headed straight uphill. This was in an effort to intersect with the trail, which the map showed to be above me on the hillside.

On the return I found that the better route is to NOT go up the steep hill, but instead follow the old road trace along the creek.

If you follow my start, you will find a series of braided game trails that give you this view of the valley. Note that the better way follows the valley floor.


And you get this view of the upper/mid valley. Click on the pic and you can see the (steep) trails.


Big rocks.

I always like a hike with stuff to look at.


Follow the steep trail to the saddle. Then, looking northerly, pick up the game trail to climber's left.


After that super-steep bit, you can access the ridge top. From here on, you pretty much just stay on the ridge top. Note: you'll see more ridge top shots as I describe the descent.

There is what I consider to be easy-to-follow (but braided) game trails all the way up the ridge. When you get to this brief bit of Class 2, just follow your Ruby. She'll go straight up it.


After a mile or so, there's the summit area. The actual summit is 100 yards or so behind this.

Above this there are several short sections of brush: either buck brush or slide alder. Just follow your Ruby, because there is a trail through each section.

Note: my only guess as to why everything here has been cut down is possible fire suppression?


I carried my snowshoes all the way to the top without using them. But the last 50 feet was snow over buck brush. Might as well pop them on; I didn't even bother to buckle them. At the same time I layered up for the wind, but until then I had been in a t-shirt with no hat or gloves.


Gallagher bench mark. Trailhead
Pretty good views up here. That's Shafer Butte (note the ski runs of Bogus Basin) and Mores Mountain. Trailhead
I'm not sure what Ruby is looking at, but the ridge in the background is Burns Ridge and the area north of Pilot Peak. Trailhead
So now we are headed back down. If you can't see the trail here, just have your Ruby find it for you. If you don't have a Ruby, just look for elk poo. It's not as companionable, but serves equally well to demarcate the correct path. Trailhead
Looking down the ridge. Sort of reminds me of Heinen, but admittedly I haven't been on Heinen for several years. Trailhead
More fun ridge walk. Trailhead
Looking back down Little Gallagher Creek. Trailhead
Again, this time from near the saddle. Trailhead

So as you near the car, this is the preferred route. Note what I think might be a pump house?

At any rate, on your climb follow the abandoned road until you get to that building, then follow the game trails that lead you up the valley.




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