Bald Mountain, ID
My brother has moved to Sun Valley, Idaho and so I
went over for a visit. This is a great area to have as a base for hiking.
Next summer I will be back to explore the Sawtooth Range. For now I set
out to hike the main ski mountain. The trailhead is at the River Run ski
area lodge on the edge of Ketchum. The trail is also open to mountain
bikes heading uphill. The starting elevation is about 5800'. The trail
begins by paralleling the Big Wood River. I saw several people fishing
in the river. The trail is mostly quite narrow. One person needs to step
uphill to allow another to pass. This was a nice change from many trails
which are nearly small gauge roads. The first mile gains minimal elevation.
At 1 1/2 miles the trail moves out of the forest and reaches a viewpoint.
The access is up a very steep set of steps. The view is down to the river
and the city of Ketchum. In the background a series of 11,000'+ peaks
came into view. They had a recent dusting of fresh snow. At the viewpoint
I met a couple from Auburn, CA who were on a hiking vacation. Now that's
my kind of people. It was soon apparent that they were not normal tourists
as they moved out at a good pace. The grade steepened a little but it
remained very moderate all the way to the top.
My biggest concern was the weather. It was probably 60 degrees at
9:55 when I started and was warming quickly. Late afternoon the day before
thundershowers came through. The same was forecast for this day. I did
not want to get caught high on the mountain with lightening. With that
in mind I kept up a steady pace with many photos being the only breaks.
The route goes from forest to open slopes and back many times. It crosses
a number of golden grass covered ski slopes and then goes back to forest
again. At 3 1/2 miles I reached a rest spot with a drinking fountain and
a faucet to fill dog bowls. Some of the open slopes had sage and the remnants
of spring flowers. The sage and balsamroot make it look like Umtanum Ridge
east of the Cascades in Washington but the thick forest nearby was much
The forest finally gave way to open slopes for the final 600' of
climbing. I topped out on a crest top road at 12:02. I climbed 5 miles
gaining 3200' in 2:07. The 9000' elevation did not seem to bother me
at all. Since I was at sea level 24 hours earlier I expected some trouble.
Perhaps climbing to 7400' at Mt. David on Saturday made a big difference.
The top was right near three chair lifts and a restaurant. The actual
summit has a fire lookout. It is a short walk up the road gaining another
150'. There are so many antennas mounted around the lookout that it seems
to be an old building turned into a high tech fortress.
The summit view was spectacular. Bald Mt. is bald so there were no
trees to block the view. I can only imagine what it will look like in
a few months when there are many feet of snow on top. I saw some big
thunderheads to the east which appeared to be heading a little north of
me. None the less I was a little nervous. I had a ride waiting at 3:00
pm to pick me up so I started down a little before 1:00. Where the
trail leaves the road I again met the hiking couple and conversed with them
again. After that I headed down.
The trail is so moderately graded that it was very easy on the knees
coming down. The wind picked up a bit but it was still comfortable. I made
good time although I took a good number of fall color photos. I passed a
single woman hiker and a mountain biker in the first 4 miles. My congratulations
to anyone who bikes up over 3000'. In the last mile I met several more groups
coming up. All in all this was a great introduction hike to the Sun Valley
area. The trail was smooth and gentle while gaining a significant amount
of elevation. The crowds were nonexistent. The summit views were outstanding
and the fall colors were a nice bonus. Next time I visit I'll head north
into the Sawtooth area.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2004