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Big Peak

Big Peak

Big Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Idaho, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 43.66873°N / 114.7287°W

Object Title: Big Peak

County: Camas

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering

Season: Summer, Fall

Elevation: 10047 ft / 3062 m


Page By: splattski

Created/Edited: Aug 31, 2010 / Jan 17, 2011

Object ID: 656202

Hits: 3418 

Page Score: 86.37%  - 22 Votes 

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Area map of Big Peak
Area surrounding Big Peak
Route map for Big Peak
Route map

This peak truly earns its name. It might not be that high, or have that much prominence, but it sits off by itself and that makes it seem much bigger. Because it sits by itself, it offers really tremendous 360° views of some of the wildest country in Idaho. For the same reason, it is also a significant challenge to climb. As an indication of the challenge, we were the first climbing party to sign the register in over two years.
Note that others had signed the register in the interim because there is a repeater on the summit and crews regularly fly a helicopter out to service the repeater. 
Backdrop from Big
Ridge traversing from Backdrop Peak (in the distance) to Big Peak

Getting There

As explained in the overview, getting there is a challenge. The shortest, easiest route involves first climbing Backdrop Peak, about 2.5 miles and 2100' of gain.

Standard Route
Drive north from Ketchum on Idaho Highway 75 for about 16 miles. Turn left onto Baker Creek Road (signed, but easy to pass if you're doing the legal 65mph) and continue about 9.5 miles to the Baker Lake trailhead at the end of the road. There is a large parking area with a concrete toilet.

Head up the trail to Baker Lake and then climb Backdrop. From the summit of Backdrop, head down the south ridge and then turn west on the ridge that runs to Big Peak. Along the way, stay on the crest of the ridge as much as possible. At times this means some fun 3rd Class scrambling, but it's never very exposed or hard. 
Final ridge
Final ridge to the summit

Total distance (one way): 5.75 miles
Gain: 3700'

Save some energy for the return home, because you'll want to repeat the same track. This means a total of 11.5 miles and around 5000' of climbing.

Alternate Route

Alternate route
Part of the awesome view: Gradual ridge ascent of alternate route
Big Peak has been climbed from the Canyon Campground on Big Smoky Creek. For part of this approach, you follow a trail shared by motorcycles. On the plus side, you walk past Skillern Hot Springs, which is highly recommended. Then you leave the trail and climb a long, gradual ridge.
Total distance (one way): 8.3 miles
Gain: 5100'

Red Tape

None. No permits required.
However, this is snow country, so check road conditions.


Baker Lake
Baker Lake
Baker Lake offers some really nice backcountry camping.
If you prefer something more vehicular, there is dispersed camping all along the Baker Creek road.
And if you prefer a real bed, there are lots of hotels in Ketchum and Hailey.

External Links

Sawtooth Avalanche Center
Sawtooth national Forest
Splattski trip report
Sun Valley web cams

For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.


Baker LakeFinal ridgeBig PeakDeluxe summit registerArea map of Big PeakBackdrop from BigAlternate route
Route map for Big PeakBusted trail signBig Peak from the south