The Black Pine Mountains

The Black Pine Mountains are located just north of the Utah border and west of I-S4. Geographically, the range, which is 17 miles in length and 7 miles in width, is the most distinctly defined mountain range in Idaho; it is surrounded by wide, flat valleys, and rises steeply on all sides. Geologically, the range is a textbook example of a Great Basin mountain range. The fault block, which forms the entire range, rises to 9,395 feet on Black Peak and has eroded into a maze of ridges and deep canyons.

The Black Pine Mountains are managed by the Sawtooth National Forest and are seldom visited by hikers or climbers. A mining company is planning to open and operate an open-pit gold mine on the range's eastern side, which will cause significant environmental degradation. Unfortunately, because so few hikers know about this range, there was little public input into the Forest Service's permit process. Now it may be too late.

At present, the range offers exceptionally good hiking opportunities, which are truly away from the crowds. Despite the lack of a large, well maintained trail system, hikers should place these isolated summits high on their lists of places to visit. The five major Black Pine peaks are all Class 2 climbs. The views of the Great Salt Lake from the southern end of the range are the biggest drawing card in this area.

Black Peak 9,395 feet (Class 2)
Black Peak is the highest of the Black Pine Mountain summits. It is located at the north end of the range, between Pole Canyon to the east and Little Eightmile Canyon to the west. The USGS survey marker is located on a point about 10 feet lower than the true summit. The peak is identified only as the Black triangulation station on the USGS 15-inch quad. (Note: The USGS is now issuing a provisional 7.5-minute quad to replace the 30-year-old 15-minute quad.) Black Peak can be climbed from almost any direction, but because of approach considerations, it is suggested that you climb it either from Pole Canyon or from Black Pine Peak. The traverse over from Black Pine Peak involves roughly 1.25 miles of scenic ridge-walking on very easy terrain.

Black Pine Peak 9,385 feet (Class 2)
Black Pine Peak is located 1.25 miles south of Black Peak. Climb this summit from Kelsaw Canyon [Approach: (A)(3.1 )(a)] or Pole Canyon [Approach:(A)(1.1)(a)], which are linked by FST018. Follow the trail to the south side of War Eagle Peak. Leave the trail at this point and climb over War Eagle Peak and then traverse the connecting ridge line to Black Pine Peak. Total distance from the trail is about 1.5 miles, with an 800-foot elevation gain. USGS Strevell 15-minute.

War Eagle Peak 8,720 feet (Class 2)
War Eagle Peak is a very minor summit. Actually, it is not even a true mountain summit, but rather a bump on the south ridge of Black Pine Peak. Access the peak via its south slopes from FST-018 [Approach: (A)(1.1)(a)] or [Approach: (A)(3 1)(a)]. USGS Strevell 15-minute.

Black Pine Cone 8,008 feet (Class 2)
Black Pine Cone is a cone-shaped summit located 3 miles southeast of War Eagle Peak and just east of Black Pine Canyon. Climb from either Mineral Gulch [Approach (A)(1.2)] or Black Pine Canyon [Approach: (A)(2)]. USGS Strevell 15-minute.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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