Hyndman Peak, ID

Summit elevation: 12,009 ft (3,660 m)
Distance: about 12 miles (19.3 km) round trip
Elevation gain: 5,009 ft (1,526 m)
Class: 2
Date: August 13, 2011

Hyndman from Hyndman-Old Hydman saddle

Hyndman Peak, at 12,009 feet, is the 9th highest peak in Idaho as well as the highest point in the Pioneer Mountains and Sawtooth National Forest.  It is located east of Ketchum/Sun Valley and northeast of Hailey on the border of Blaine and Custer counties.  The trailhead is at the end of National Forest road 203 at the confluence of the North Fork and main stem of Hyndman Creek and is reached by heading northeast from Idaho route 75 and passing through the community of Triumph.

I reached the trailhead by about 8:00 am and the parking lot was over half full.  The first 3 miles of the hike follow Hyndman Creek to the base of Cobb Peak, the massive southwest face of which looms over the valley for the latter half the these 3 miles.  This section of the hike has a low gradient, makes for quick travel, and is a popular mountain bike trip.  Many hikers bike to the base of Cobb Peak, leave their bikes, hike to the summit, and take the quick bike ride out.

Hyndman Peak at right from lower Hyndman Basin

At the base of Cobb Peak, the trail turns to the north to go by the west side of the peak and rapidly gains elevation.  After a short steep section the trail levels off somewhat and passes the first of several small ponds.  Once past this pond the trail again rapidly gains elevation until reaching Hyndman Basin.  The 1.5 miles through Hyndman Basin are alternating steep and flat(ish) sections and makes for fairly quick travel, although you do gain 1,000 feet in elevation across the basin.

Hyndman Peak from upper Hyndman Basin
North from Hyndman Peak

The setting of this basin is spectacular with Hyndman Peak to the north, Old Hyndman Peak (11,775 ft.) to the east, and Cobb Peak (11,650 ft.) to the south. This basin has several ponds and makes an excellent location to camp for those who do not want to hike the 12 miles round trip in one day or who want to attempt any of the surrounding peaks.

Wildhorse Creek Valley and the Pioneer Mountains from the Hyndman-Old Hyndman saddle

In the upper half of Hyndman Basin the route begins crossing bedrock and boulder fields.  The exact route in this section can be difficult to follow (especially if some snow fields persist), and this remains the case for the remainder of the ascent.  Once in the upper basin, ascend the north-south saddle between Hyndman and Old Hyndman.  The east side of this saddle is a vertical drop of nearly 1,500 feet and provides excellent views of the Pioneer Mountains.  Simply reaching this saddle (at 10,800 feet) is an excellent destination for those who cannot reach the summit due to physical or environmental restrictions.

Cobb Peak from upper Hyndman Basin

From the saddle the route ascends 1,200 feet in about a half mile to the summit of Hyndman Peak.  The route is very tricky at times but generally follows the ridge, although there are sections that that require you to hike below the ridge (unless you want to turn this into a class 3 or even 4  hike).  It is imperative that you stay to south/west side of the ridge because the north/east side is a vertical drop of nearly 2,500 feet (at the summit).  Mountain goats are a fairly common sight in this area, and if you don't see them you certainly will see signs of them, particularly their fur and scat.

The view from the summit is amazing and encompasses everything from the Lost River, White Cloud, Boulder, and Soldier Mountains to Bald Mountain ski area and the distant Snake River Plain.  There is a register at the summit, and I was surprised to see a raptor circling at eye level over the valley below.

Southeast-south-southwest from the summit

On the day I made the ascent I was the first to reach the summit and passed only three people on the way up, despite beginning after 8:00 am.  This is a very popular hike due to its proximity to Sun Valley, and on my descent I passed 35 people intending to summit the peak that day (a Saturday).

Flower at a pond in Hyndman Basin
Lupines and Hyndman Peak

The wildflowers from the trailhead through Hyndman Basin were great and black rosy finches were seen in the basin.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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