"This combines more delightful features than any place I have ever seen in Switzerland, Austria, or the United States for a winter resort." Averall Harriman exclaimed upon seing Bald Mountain for the first time in search of the United State's first ski resort in the 30s.
Bald Mountain, (or Baldy as everyone calls it), is home not only to North America's first ski resort, but also includes exciting hiking terrain along with unbelievable scenery. Rising more than 3,400' above Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho, Baldy is an extraordinary mountain. Very few people realize just how large of a hunk of dirt Baldy really is. Not only is the gentle summit ridge more than a mile long, but the undeveloped "back side" of Baldy stretches for miles back into the Warm Springs drainage in a series of long ridges and canyons. Sixty-six named ski runs with more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and 13 ski lifts have been carved out of the eastern section of Baldy. This mountain is not only a worldwide attraction for skiiers but a hiker's dream as well. Numerous trails criss-cross the entire mountain ranging from beginner to expert. Also on the plus side, if hiking in summe or winter, you have the option to save your knees and take a free chairlift ride down. Though you will not get a wilderness experience hiking this mountain as you will for sure run into other hikers, mountain bikers, and paragliders, but the scenery from the summit of the Wood River Valley is memorable.
There are two main entrance points to hiking Baldy, both near the Ketchum area. The first, and most popular, is the River Run entrance on the south side of Ketchum. Just follow the signs around town to get here, it is nearly impossible to miss. The other, less popular, entrance is Warm Spring north of Ketchum. On the north side of Main Street, turn left onto Warm Springs avenue and follow it to the lifts. To explore the isolated back side of Baldy, continue on Warm Springs as far as you like, though no trails are present past this point. If you choose to explore this area, bring a map as you will surely need it. Other approaches to Baldy can be reached via Cold Springs or Clear Creek. To access Cold Springs, turn left at St. Lukes Hospital south of Ketchum. Drive a little ways past the hospital and turn left, (east) up a road that descends a a hill fairly quickly. Drive to the backk where the roa ends and explore here. To access Clear Creek, a few hundred yards south of the turnoff for the hospital is Owl Rock Road. This road climbs steeply up and over a hill into the Clear Creek Drainage, park where able, and you will be on your away up and around Baldy's south side. For more on specific hiking trails see trails below.
Views from the summit of Baldy.
Baldy sits on National Forest Land, therefore allowing us hikers to explore without worrying of trespassing. There is plentiful parking at both entrances but watch out as some of it does require parking passes. If you are planning on hiking and taking the charilift down, as many do take advantage of this unique hiking experience, all charilifts run from about Thanksgiving to mid-April. Then, from about mid-June to mid-September the lifts run only on the River Run side of the mountain.
Numerous trails cross all of Bald Mountain and range from short and steep, to very LONG and mellow. But who says you have to stick to the trails? No one, its just as pleasing to pick a ski run and head straight up. Ski runs generally have less vegatation making them a nice scramble with no obstacles. However, if you would like to stick to the trails, here is a list and starting point of all of them.
Bald Mountain Trail: This trail is by far the most popular of all on the mountain. 95% of hiking traffic either walks up or down it. The BMT begins at River Run and winds its wa up Baldy over 4.5 miles of switchbacks.
Warm Springs Trail: This is the only trail that brings you even remotely close to the back side of Baldy. Even though it is 8 miles in length, it still requires a connection of the Broadway trail to reach the summit.
Cold Springs Trail: This trail works the southern portion of Baldy and also is long and strenuous. Six and half miles in length, the Cold Springs Trail ends at the Warm Springs Trail and Broadway Trail. Take the Broadway trail to the summit.
Broadway Trail: This trail, the shortest of them all, begins where the Warm Springs and Cold Springs Trails terminate. The Broadway Traiil then drops down to a saddle before ascending the entire length of the summit ridge.
Other Trails; Many other smaller trails connect the mains ones described above. The Lower River Run Trail, The Lookout Trail, and the Warm Springs Traverse Trails are all other trails to be given a thought. Ask Sun Valley for a detailed map of these trails and Baldy. I will have a link to the map in summer.
When To Climb
Baldy is usually climbed in the summer and fall. The Bald Mountain Hiking Trails are not maintained in winter months. However, if planning on ascending in winter, snowshoes are a good idea but not a must, and a start before 8AM is suggested as hiking up a mountain with speeding skiiers rushing by is not many people's idea of fun.
Camping is not recommended on Bald Mountain because of grooming at night and mountain personnel. Many hotels surround the base of Baldy.
Due to Summitpost's copyright policy, I will not post Sun Valley's live web cam on this page but here are links to the, River Run Cam, Warm Spings Cam, Half Pipe Cam,and The Summit View.
For questions on Bald Mountain or Sun Valley in general this is their Main Website.
For current and past weather conditions there is SNOWTEL site on the summit of Baldy with extensive Weather Conditions
For a forecast of future weather on Baldy here is your best bet for a Forecast