Elkhorn Peak hike

Page Type
Trip Report
Idaho, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jul 10, 2009
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Elkhorn Peak hike
Created On: Jul 13, 2009
Last Edited On: Jul 13, 2009
Summit cairn ahead

Wood BM (Samaria Mountain HP)

My wife and I left Lehi about 6 a.m. friday morning, heading for southern Idaho and a couple peaks I wanted to visit there. Making it through the Salt Lake and Ogden traffic o.k., we stopped in Tremonton for some breakfast about 8 a.m. and then headed towards our first objective, Wood B.M. (Benchmark), the high point of the Samaria mountains that are just across the Idaho border from Utah. Taking exit three, we made our way up Gardner Canyon and eventually found a spot about ten miles from I-15 where we could park and I could make my way up the gentle brush laden hillside (some woods initially), crossing a barb wire fence and then making my way to the summit, about a half mile from where I parked. Other than dodging the hungry mosquito population, it was an easy and quick hike.

I found a small register left by Andy Martin two years earlier with only his entry on it and located two witness benchmarks to go along with the central benchmark, all of which had the name "Wood" on them. A wonderful view of the surrounding area and in less than an hour I was back at the truck where my wife was waiting. Round trip was a mile and elevation gain was maybe 300 feet.

The campground is downLooking east from Elkhorn Peak

On to Elkhorn Peak to make it two in one day

My next objective was Elkhorn Peak, about twenty miles north of Wood BM and following the excellent directions provided by mountaingazelle, we made our way unerringly to the small campground (Summit) where we snagged the last campsite (at 11:40 a.m.) A nice stream was nearby I grabbed a quick lunch and decided that I would hike from the campground to the peak without driving up the mile or so of road to the trailhead. It turned out to be more than a mile but I needed a good hike and this was ideal for my needs. That would add additional elevation gain but my wife thought I was pushing it a bit since it was so warm out.

I found the road allowed me to make good time and then I crossed the bridge and started up the ATV track and headed up to the Indian Mill Canyon crest, passing many places where I had to cross the creek and do it without getting my feet wet. After the first hour I had covered 2.5 miles and a thousand feet of elevation gain so I was pleased with my time. One ATV'er passed me on his easy way down the track and gave me that look of "what are you doing?" on a hot day like this. The temperature did make it a bit of a chore but I had plenty of water and electrolytes and often the trail was shady during the first part.

When I reached the crest at the two hour mark, I was making good time but with about two thousand feet done and a thousand feet to go, I was happy with my progress. Now I had to leave the road and start up the north ridge with my GPS telling me I had 1.54 miles to the summit left. I found a use trail that soon faded in and out but kept to the crest of the north ridge most of the time. Every time I deviated from the crest because I lost the use trail, I paid for it in time lost fighting my way through brush or trees. I had GPS'd peak 8577 and used that guidance to stay pretty much on track and also found that use trail appearing from time to time which helped out quite a lot.

Before an hour was up, I could see the actual summit instead of the false one
that it hid behind. You can't miss the summit because it has a huge rock cairn built on it. It took me another ten minutes to get there because I was feeling the effect of the heat and I had to slow down. Overall, it took me three hours to reach the summit but that includes the rest stops and the addition of more mileage by including the roadwalking from the campground to the trailhead. I've got some big hikes in Idaho scheduled for later in the month so I needed to get in as much mileage and elevation gain as I could. It took me less than two hours to get back to the campground.

The summit itself had some outstanding views of the surrounding area which I felt was very beautiful. The summit cairn is huge and much taller than I am but it lends a real presence to that peak. I talked to my wife from the summit via handy talkie and let her know when to expect me back for dinner. I snapped a few pictures, signed the small register left by John Vitz in 2007 and relunctantly left the summit after only being there for less than fifteen minutes. It doesn't make sense to spend the time and effort to reach a summit and then only spend such a short time but that is often the case for me. I retraced my steps back down the ridge and reached the campground in 2 hours and fifteen minutes. So for me, it was a hike of over five hours and you could easily cut an hour or more from that total if you go from the actual trailhead. The first thing I did when I got back to the campground was to down a quart of V8 juice.
Elkhorn Witness benchmark (ID)
Elkhorn Peak register page

We spent the night at the campground and then in the morning, we made the trip back to Lehi, arriving in time to deal with our other responsibilities
that we had created for ourselves as people have a tendency to do.

Looking north
My route on Elkhorn

Hike stats: My GPS said 5.6 miles when I reached the summit and upon my return to the campground it said 11.2 miles, so walking the road added well over three miles round trip. The elevation gain was close to 3000 feet but you can eliminate some of that by going from the trailhead like most sensible people would normally do. More pics posted in the image section of this page.


While my wife doesn't hike like I do, she is very supportive of my hiking passion. I can't tell you how much that means to me to have her willing to "ride" along, often to places where a sane person wouldn't go and her willingness to tent camp in places where there are no facilities amazes our own kids. She always cheers me on and applauds my successes as they happen.
We have been sharing many "mini" adventures together and this really makes
hikes like this one to Elkhorn Peak extra special. Thank you, you are the best.


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