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Buckhorn Mountain

Buckhorn Mountain

Buckhorn Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Idaho, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 44.86770°N / 115.9018°W

Object Title: Buckhorn Mountain

County: Valley

Activities: Hiking

Season: Summer, Fall

Elevation: 8457 ft / 2578 m


Page By: splattski

Created/Edited: Oct 11, 2010 / Oct 13, 2010

Object ID: 669711

Hits: 3349 

Page Score: 84.27%  - 18 Votes 

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Buckhorn Mountain sits at the head of several drainages, offering commanding views of the Lick Creek range. It is also part of a serpentine ridge that includes many other peaks and peaklets in a very craggy granite area. Buckhorn is easy to get to and a fun hike, so it should be a peakbaggers delight but the area also offers the possibility for some fun technical climbing for those with the spirit of adventure (and a strong back for lugging gear in rough terrain).  
North Face
North face

Many people hike in to Boulder Lake to fish and camp. They think they see Buckhorn Mountain, but the real peak is largely obscured by a sub-peak (really no more than a bump on a ridge) immediately to the west of the true summit. The summit register has several entries of folks who were so fooled; they call this other peak "False Buckhorn." We also suggested "Emergency Backup Buckhorn." You can use whatever name you want.  
Buckhorn and False Buckhorn
Buckhorn and False Buckhorn

Route stats
The route described here is about 5.9 miles each way, with a gain of about 2100'. Mostly Class 1, with the final grunt up to the saddle and final peak going at Class 2 (depending on your route-finding skills and spirit of adventure).

Getting There

About 1.5 miles south of the traffic light at the McCall airport/Hwy 55, turn east on Farm to Market Road (paved). 
Route map
Route map
Follow this road through four 90 degree bends. After a bridge crossing Lake Fork Creek and at another 90 degree bend, turn left (actually go straight; the bend goes right) on FS-403 and head up the hill. Shortly after the top of the hill, the pavement ends. Stay on the main road, and reach the parking at Boulder Reservoir in about 5 miles from the end of the pavement.
There are parking spaces all over, but sometimes finding an empty space is a challenge because the reservoir is a popular local fishing hole.

Main route
The first part of this route is a popular day hike from McCall. At about 1.5 miles and 700' gain, it's an easy hike from Boulder Meadows Reservoir, the trailhead, to Boulder Lake. There is a signed trail just north (uphill) from the dam. 
Boulder meadow
Boulder Lake meadows

After you arrive at Boulder Lake, the trail swings to the south of the lake, passing through quite a few well-loved camp spots. At the far end of the lake, the trail meanders through some meadows and at about 2.5 miles (and another 50' of gain) you will come to a trail intersection. Go straight and follow the very-obvious trail, which will take you toward Buckhorn Saddle. Along the way, you will walk undeer cliffs leading to False Buckhorn. After you pass the cliffs, leave the trail and head for the saddle between False Buckhorn and Buckhorn (the saddle should be visible through the trees).
From the broad, grassy saddle, the true summit is obvious to the east. The line of ascent is obvious: just follow the ridge, moving to the right side a bit as needed to avoid rocks or downfall.

Other routes
This is typical Lick Creek Range terrain, where a skilled navigator can head cross-country. We descended the rougher terrain of the south ridge of Buckhorn to join up with the route to Rapid Peak.
There are cliffs on the north side of Buckhorn Mountain, and the typically good granite of the Lick Creek range might offer up some routes for those willing to lug gear in that far. For now, though, there is no known technical route.

Red Tape

Motorized vehicles are not permitted on these trails (but chances are you will see sings of them... for a long time.
This is snow country, so check ahead on road conditions. 
The summit from the main route
First clear view of the summit from the route
Boulder Lake view
False Buckhorn from Boulder Lake
Looking down on False Buckhorn
Looking the opposite direction, False Buckhorn from the summit of Buckhorn


Although there are campsites at the trailhead, for spoiled mountaineers it is too busy for good camping. Boulder Lake offers some nice spots, but don't expect to be alone, as this is another popular fishing spot.
Instead, try camping at Summit Lake or Rapid lake, where you will most likely have the place to yourself.

External Links

Payette National Forest
McCall Chamber of Commerce
McCall weather
McCall area web cams
Idaho road report
McCall, Idaho wiki

Trip reports
Splattski trip report

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


This is snow country, so check ahead for conditions, road access, etc.


Southern viewLooking down on False BuckhornThe summit from the main routeBoulder Lake viewNorth FaceRoute mapBuckhorn and False Buckhorn