OverviewThis one might only appeal to a prominence peakbagger and was the main reason it appealed to me. Located near the Utah border, the Samaria mountain range is one of those ranges that really doesn't "grab" your attention to the west of I-15 as your attention is more likely to be "grabbed" by the mountains that are on the east side of that highway.
The Samaria Mountain High Point is also called Wood BM (benchmark) since the HP is blessed with a USGS Benchmark that has Wood inscribed upon it. The actual summit at 7780 feet ranks #51 in Idaho in the top 100 prominence peaks
in the state. As mentioned before, it is the prominence factor that makes this peak attractive to some of us since it has a prominence of 2400 feet.
Not into prominence? That is OK. This page is written for those who are and
offers a bit of information that may not be found anywhere else. I might add however, that my wife who isn't a prominence peakbagger really enjoyed the views that are to be had from the road that takes you up up and up as you head
for the highpoint.
The mountains are near the town of Samaria and due to this proximity, the mountains outside of the town became known as Samaria as well. This link will help explain the connection and how the town became known as Samaria. I am still looking for the origin of the name of Wood, most likely one of the early settlers of the area.
Getting ThereAs you drive north from the Utah border, just after I-15 crosses into Idaho, watch for exit 3 (for Woodruff) and take it. Head west to road 300 and take a right. Follow this road as it goes north and then bends west again as it heads for the mountain range. At 3.6 miles, it will become the Gardner Canyon road
as shown on the map. The road will pass a farm house on the left before entering the canyon and proceeds to get rougher and a bit narrower. As the road winds up into the canyon, you will pass Gardner Springs (a signed spring) at around 6.5 miles. You may find yourself wishing for high clearance as the road often presents rocks and ruts as obstacles and 4 wheel drive would be good to have. I wouldn't drive this road in poor weather as mud might become a problem. The road will continue to gain elevation and at around the 8 mile mark, you will pass through a non gated fenceline. You will now pass the road connector from north canyon before working your way to a high spot where you get some really nice views back to the east and south. At this point, you can look to the west and see your objective.
The road will then drop and you'll notice a communications structure just off of the road and as you pass this structure, you could park at the wide spot and go to the highpoint from here, it is less than a mile away. Or you could continue on the road as it drops down the hill into a forested area and park directly south of it. My GPS indicated that we were just 0.4 mile from the highpoint and only 400 feet below it. My odometer indicated that we 9.9 miles from I-15.
I headed up through some dense forest vegetation that soon gave way to just brush as I gained elevation up the side of the hill. The worst part was figuring out how to get over a barb wire fence which is the main obstacle
and the "crux" of the hike. Once over the fence, it is an easy 0.3 mile to the Benchmarked summit. On the summit you will find a small cairn and two witness benchmarks to go along with the central one.
The route and summit visitorsYou could hike to the top from anywhere off of the road that you could find a place to park. Best would be the high saddle west of the communication structure or south, in the forested section below the peak.
Both Lists of John and Peakbagger.com both show about 15 or so people have claimed this one. Both lists shows different people so the number of people that have done this one will be more than the 15 or 16 currently shown on either one of the summit logs.
When I was there I found a tiny little register left by Andy Martin but that was it. After the Samaria fire of 2013, it is doubtful that any register would've survived it.
Red TapeNone that I am aware of since this is BLM land.
CampingYou could bush camp in the area where we parked and I noticed a firering in that forested area as well as a couple places on the road in where it was obvious that people have camped in the past. Since this is such a quick hike, once you make the ten mile drive to near the mountain, you may not find it necessary to camp in the area.
A regular forest service campground, Summit, it found off of exit 22 on the way to Elkhorn Peak. On weekends, it is doubtful you will find an open campsite however. To get a reservation,
check the phone number below and the address of the local ranger station.
Address: Westside Ranger District Malad Office
Caribou National Forest
195 South 300 East
Malad, ID 83252 Phone: (208) 766-5900
[img:529771:alignleft:small:You could camp here]
Weather - Malad CityJust north of the Samaria mountain range, the town of Malad City offers
stores, gasoline and motels. The weather report for Malad City will give you a good idea of what weather conditions will be like in the Samaria mountains.
2013 fireSP member mountaingazelle on 8-21-13 provided the following information:
The State Fire burned around 30,000 acres in this area. The Samaria Mountains HP and most of the mountain range was burned. It was originally caused by lightning and took a while to get under control because of the hotter than normal temperatures and wind. The next time anyone visits the peak it will look much different than before.
News Link with pictures/video