The South Ridge is a nice route that can be climbed during much of the year except when deep snow covers the mountain. I hadn’t been able to find much information about this mountain in any book or on the internet. So I just went and explored around a bit to see if I could find a feasible route. This was the most accessible one I could find. It turned out to be a fun ridge hike. I rate it at class 2. There is a trail at the beginning of the route but it soon disappears. Route finding involves finding your way around trees, bushes, and rock ledges and some bushwhacking. The best thing I liked about it were the views of Malad Valley to the west and Cache Valley to east. The South Ridge route does travel through a small area of private property. Use your own judgement if hiking this route.
Distance is about 8 miles round trip with 2,500 feet elevation gain.
In Northern Utah, drive on Interstate 15 and take exit 379 toward Pocatello. Continue on this road until you get to exit 392 toward Plymouth. Turn right at the Sinclair Gas Station. Drive east on this paved road until you get to a four way intersection and stop sign. Continue going straight (east) on a gravel road. This road can be driven by passenger vehicles. Drive on this road which starts climbing up toward a saddle on the ridge. At the top of the pass is small parking spot where the trailhead is located. On the map this is labeled as Short Divide. Park here. There is a radio tower located to the south. On the south side of the road is a register where you will want to sign in. This will let the property owners know why your vehicle is parked here.
From the trailhead, you will see a jeep trail heading north. Start walking up this jeep trail. It starts out wide and then becomes faint. This trail will eventually end as the slope gets steeper. Just keep hiking up toward the top of the ridge. On this part of the route you gain elevation fast.
There are four peaks or points along the ridge that you will pass before you get to the summit. You'll be following close to the top of the ridge the entire way. The First South Peak can be seen ahead. This is the small knob that is prominent from the trailhead. Continue hiking up to the Second South Peak which goes up the face that is very wide. Then the ridge becomes more defined after that.
South Ridge Peaks
There is some easy scrambling located between the Third South Peak and Fourth South Peak along the ridge. You'll have to hike through the trees and bushes that occasionally block the way along the top of the ridge. Just find the easiest path of resistance around them. You get to the Fourth South Peak where you will get your first full view of the summit of Gunsight Peak.
From here, you will have to descend and lose some elevation to get on the ridge proper. There is a lot of bushwhacking on this part of the ridge. It will be slow going though here. The route goes northeast toward a smaller point on the ridge. You can bypass this point by traversing along its west side. Then you will climb up the final ridge to the top which is covered in trees. The summit has two small points. The one farther to the northeast is the highest.
Gunsight Peak : South Ridge
The ridge beyond the summit is lower in elevation and continues north. Looking northeast, you can see the southern end of the main crest of the Bannock Range including Oxford Peak. Farther to the northeast is Sedgwick Peak in the Portneuf Range. Cache Valley can be seen to the east with the town of Clarkston below. The city of Franklin, Idaho is farther to the north. Across the valley is the Bear River Range which will be covered in snow earlier in the year.
The view south is dominated by the Wellsville Mountains. The backside of Ben Lomond and Willard Peak can be seen. To the west is Malad Valley with the small town of Plymouth to the southwest. The city of Malad can be seen to the northwest. The tiny looking Samaria Mountains are across the valley to the west where Interstate-15 runs north to south. If you have good eyes you can see the Black Pine Mountains. I was even able to see the Albion Range farther to the west.
Summit PhotosThe Summit
When to Climb
Spring and Fall are the best times to climb Gunsight Peak. From April to mid-June and September to November.
During the warmer months of the year, be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. I ran into two snakes while hiking in May.
The mountain can also be climbed in Summer. I personally prefer hiking here during the cooler months of the year. Even in May, the temperature was over 80 degrees which was warm enough for me. There isn't much shade available on the route up the south ridge.
What to Bring
Regular hiking gear. Water and food for a day hike. A good pair of hiking boots. Having a map and GPS will be helpful. I recommend bug spray in late spring and early summer.