Boise Peak is an underappreciated mountain on Boise Front. Its forested summit doesn’t offer any views to speak of, and the standard nearly shade-less routes up the west side of the mountain can be brutally hot in the summer. Still, any avid local peak-bagger must climb the peak that shares the name of Idaho’s capital city. Right? We maybe not, but the peak may improve its reputation a bit if more hikers were to utilize a route on the lightly forested eastern side of the mountain. This is a shadier and more pleasant alternative that may improve Boise Peak’s image a bit.
One option (described below) is to park at Crooked Summit, and hike “Eagleson Summit Road” up to Boise Peak. This route winds its way up a partially overgrown road through an intermittent evergreen forest and an abundance of chokecherry bushes. Spring and early summer provide an array of wildflowers including Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush, Scarlet Gilia, Larkspur, Dogtooth Violets, and occasional Columbines.
The downside of this route is that the road is fairly popular amongst dirt bikes and ATVers, so the peace and quiet is interrupted on a somewhat regular basis. Still, it’s a pretty area worth exploring, and the starting point at Crooked Summit is less than an hour drive from Boise.
From Boise, follow highway 21 past Lucky Peak reservoir until you reach the Robie Creek turnoff in 23 miles. The Robie Creek road is paved for the first couple miles and then becomes a wash-boarded dirt road for the rest of the drive. Stay on Robie Creek road all the way to Crooked Summit, which is about 8.5 miles from the highway.
A couple of key intersections:
- Stay to the right at the fire station. (Turning left will wrongly take you to Aldape Summit then down Rocky Canyon back to Boise)
- Go straight at the Toll Road / Kelly Gulch intersection (near where the Pines Tavern used to be.).
- At the turnoff for Karney Lakes (private summer home area), continue straight ahead on the less-traveled and rough road to Crooked Summit.
The last 0.75 miles from the Karney Lakes intersection to Crooked summit are very rough. A passenger car can make it, but high clearance would be preferred. You could also just park and start hiking from here (especially if you value your paint job).
Looking east into the Boise Mountains. View along the ridge south to Lucky Peak.
Various “roads” intersect at Crooked Summit. To reach Boise Peak, choose the one that goes uphill to the west and heads toward Eagleson Summit. Not too far into the hike (less than a half mile), there’s a fork in the road. Stay to the right and go uphill here, avoiding the road/trail that veers off to the left along the side of the hill. There are not many trees for the first couple miles, but there is an abundance of buck brush and chokecherry bushes. The higher you get, the denser the evergreens get. Wildflowers are plentiful throughout the hike. Stay on the “path most traveled” for the first 3.5 miles, and then look for a gated road (marked 263A as of 2007). Follow this road that takes off to the north not long after the main road crests a small hill. Follow “263A” for another quarter mile or so until it ends then do some mild cross-country bushwhacking for the last quarter mile up to the summit. The summit isn’t marked, but there’s a rocky mound that seems to be the highpoint.
- Distance (one way): 4.0 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 2000 Feet
When to Visit
This route could be used year round, but late April until early November give the best chance of a snow-free hike. May and early June are probably optimal from a temperature and wildflower standpoint. The area would be very low avalanche risk in winter, but the approach would be longer. Boise County plows the Robie Creek road all the way to the Karney Lakes turnoff most years in winter.
What to Bring
Bring sun protection and plenty of liquids to drink, there’s no water along the way. Leave the iPod at home. There are some blind corners on the road, and you need to be able to hear the ATV’s coming to avoid getting run over.