Bernard Mountain / ITA trip


A successful Idaho Trails Association project also nets the summit of Bernard Mountain.

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

This trip was a week-long trail project with the Idaho Trails Association. The photos were taken over the full week, but the story of the climb is just one day.

So the trip starts at the start, loading the boat at Pittsburg Landing.


It's approximately 20 miles from Pittsburg Landing upstream to Bernard Creek.


Home away from home at Bernard Creek bar. Looking southerly.

And just in case you are checking, down on the Snake this is at about 1300'.

Camp included 24-hour entertainment. Trailhead

McGaffee Cabin, est. 1905

Bernard Creek rising in the background


The first of three creek crossings we cleared out. With the stepping stones we placed.


The lower section is a green hallway. At least it was after we cut out all the brush. And poison ivy.

And of course, working in the brush at this time of year is a sure-fire method of acquiring ticks. In this respect, I can assure you, we were not dissapointed.


After climbing about 800 feet, the trail leaves the lush creek bottom and begins a sidehill. Nice tread after we dug it out.


The big rock here was a 'pack bumper', meaning a loaded horse couldn't get around it without bumping their packs. This had closed the trail for many years.

And there were a couple boulders in the way, to boot. We moved the boulders, then built a rock pass-around that was wide enough for Jay to stick out his arm-- or a horse with panniers to pass.

Above the pack bumper, there were rock slides. Now, with tread. Trailhead

It's about a 2000' climb to this bowl-shaped hillside.

Good trail eyes will note the rising trail on the open hillside above.

A couple mornings (yes, it took a few days to get the trail open to here) there was a good-sized elk herd up here. Trailhead

More tread work.


From a little higher, this is the view down Bernard Creek. The snow is mostly in Oregon: the other side of the Snake River.


And the trail keeps climbing.

Here, we are above our team's work highpoint, which was 3000' above the river. The trail is walkable here, but narrow. Heading for the obvious saddle, which is not the top, but close.

Above here we did a little light brushing of the trail, but no further tread work.

When you get into the saddle, the trail gets pretty thin in an old burn. Remember, the trail has been closed for some time.... Trailhead
It sort of comes and goes up here. Trailhead
And finally you get to McGaffee Cow Camp. Your map may instead call it Wilson Cow Camp. Whatever- on tired legs, a cow camp by another name would smell as sweet. Trailhead
At the cow camp, my GPS said the summit was 0.25 miles and 200' higher. While the others had lunch and coffee, Liz and I went for it. The first part was some really nasty stacked downfall, but then opened up into ponderosa hillside. Trailhead
We had had some work days that were bluebird, some snow, and everything in between. For our summit attempt, it was low cloud deck, cold, and windy. Trailhead

After marching up and down the canyon every day, it was on tired legs (but now- good trail) that we wandered happily back to camp.

If you like hiking in Idaho, please consider helping ITA in its mission to open and maintain hiking trails. Join a work project, or at least become a member. Show your support!

For specific about the trail work, visit the ITA photo report.
Map Trailhead

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