As you drive between Boise and McCall, the Needles can be seen high on the ridge directly east of Donnelly, Idaho. For reference, Donnelly is about 10 miles south of McCall. These needles are a collection of granite towers and domes sitting in a large trail-less area. The surrounding terrain is ponderosa country, dry and open. So if you have the Payette National Forest map, you can navigate there from a variety of points. However, you’ll likely need that same map just to navigate the roads that get you close enough to make the hike manageable.
If you are bagging high points, the easiest way up the highest tower in the group is Class 4.
The many granite spires of this area have seen some technical climbing development. However, the folks putting up these routes have been pretty tight-lipped about it. The rock has lots of possibilities, but does not have the crack systems needed for good natural protection. So bring your rack, but look for bolted lines.
The Paddy Flats road is also called the Kennally Creek road, or FS 388. This is a winding dirt road that takes the long way to get to where you need to go. In addition, the trailhead, if it can be called that, is not marked. It is passable, in season, to passenger vehicles. However, you probably won’t make it without a Payette National Forest map.
Go north from Donnelly on Highway 55 for about 3 miles , looking for the sign to Paddy Flats to the east. Take the Paddy Flats road and follow it into the mountains. At times it seems that the road is going the wrong direction. At times it is. But keep going until you are above Sloan Point. There is a pull-out of sorts near a summit (44.73236 / -115.89454). Look for the faint tread heading east. This old trail is quite scenic and will get you close to the Needles. But not quite. So have your map and compass handy when the tread disappears. If you did a good job following the trail, it is a pleasant 1-mile bushwack to the summit.
5.5 miles, 2600’ gain
Going north from Cascade on Highway 55, go bout 13 miles and turn east onto the Gold Fork road. This road doesn’t look like it goes anywhere. But follow it across the flats through some right-angle turns and you will soon be heading up Gold Fork Creek. As with the Paddy Flats route, you probably won’t make it without a Payette National Forest map.
There is a trailhead of sorts at the upper end of Gold Fork, but you won’t be following a trial much. The good news is that it is a relatively short bushwack to the summit, and only the first part is really brushy.
2 miles, 2000’ gain.
Except that this is snow country, and also big-game hunting country. Check ahead for seasons and road conditions.
External LinksTrip reports and rock routes
Splattski trip report
Payette National Forest
McCall Chamber of Commerce
McCall area web cams
Idaho road report
McCall, Idaho wiki
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.