Homer Youngs Peak at 10621' is the highest summit in the northern section of the Beaverheads. It is a beautiful mountain with graceful lines no matter where it is viewed from. It seems only fitting that the highest peak is arguably the prettiest.
Homer Youngs Peak with a central location offers up unobstructed views of all the significant summits in the northern end of the Beaverheads.
Montana's Big Hole Valley stretches out to the east - shimmering green in the spring and summer, golden brown in the fall, and a brilliant white in the winter.
Rock Island Lakes and Little Lake are attractive backpacking destinations on Homer Youngs' west side. The Continental Divide Trail also works its way past these lakes.
The closest towns are Wisdom and Jackson where you can get gas, groceries, and meals.
Key access highways are US 93, MT 43, MT 278, and I-15.
If you have one trip planned for Montana's Big Hole Valley and are looking for a peak to climb,
you can't go wrong choosing Homer Youngs Peak.
Haystacks & Homer Youngs
About 1/2 mile south of Jackson, Montana turn west onto Miner Lake road (FR 182). Travel approximately 11 miles to Miner Lake campground. As you enter Miner Lake campground you will cross a cattleguard. As you exit Miner Lake campground you cross another cattleguard. From this exit cattleguard it is 1.4 miles to Trail 187.
Between the exit cattleguard and Trail 187 you will have a dry stream bed to cross (it was dry in mid July) and a short, steep hill that may require 4WD to get over.
Sunset on Homer Youngs Peak
At the short, steep hill the road forks. Take the left fork which goes up and over the hill. The fork meets up again beyond the hill so either will work, although the right fork looked a lot more rugged.
Trail 187 starts as an old jeep trail on your right and is quite obvious but not signed. (I have discussed the lack of signs with the Wisdom Ranger District). Kelly Creek does cross the road about 3/10 of a mile beyond Trail 187. If you happen to miss Trail 187 and get to Kelly Creek, then you have driven too far. Parking is limited at Trail 187, but you can easily find a place where you are not blocking the road.
The Forest Service roads are closed to motorized traffic (except snowmobiles) until May 15. Thanks to Arlee for providing this information.
Summit Routes1) Trail 187 Class 2
Proceed up Trail 187. This old jeep road quickly ends and becomes a routine hikers trail marked only by a trail use restriction sign. Trail 187 works its way up offering occasional views of Homer Youngs off to the west. Trail 187 eventually enters a series of 5 or 6 small open grassy meadows as it fades out. As you reach the end of these meadows listen for a very distinct creek. As you pick it up, veer off to the west and stay on it's south side. The topo maps will show this as the unnamed creek just north of Kelly Creek. You will run into faint Trail 402 in places. Just as easily as you proceed on Trail 402, it will just as easily disappear and then reappear. It is more important to keep this creek within earshot and stay on it's south side moving west than to worry about staying on Trail 402.
Eventually, you will pop out of the forest where the stream pours out of the lake where you will have a good view of the long rounded ridge of Homer Youngs Peak running left to right. The topo maps will show this as an unnamed lake just north of Kelly Lake. Pick your best spot to gain the ridge, work your way to the end of this lake, plunge back into the forest, and work up this steep effort to gain the ridge.
Begin your long ascent up the rounded ridge line to the summit of Homer Youngs Peak. You may use your hands for balance or to maneuver in spots, but nothing more than Class 2 will be encountered.
2) Trail 54 Class 3
Summit pyramid from 10000' saddle
As you leave Miner Lake campground and cross the cattleguard, drive to the end of this road (about 3 miles) and park in a large circular parking area. Trail 54 begins here and has a Forest Service sign in box at the trailhead. Shortly up Trail 54 it forks. Take the right fork up to Rock Island Lakes. From the upper Rock Island lake aim for a small flat saddle at the base of the summit pyramid. This saddle is at about 10000'. This is a steep Class 3 rock and scree ascent. I did see two people ascend this route. From the saddle at 10000' you have a Class 2 boulder ascent up to the summit.
3) Rock Island saddle route Class 3
From the upper Rock Island lake, work your way to the north end of the lake and gain the saddle at about 9055' by following a faint game trail. According to Bill Cunningham in his book Wild Montana `you will have a 1600' hand over hand rock scramble up the ridge to the summit. With care, a safe route without exposure can be found without difficulty'.
Rock Island Lakes
The closest campgrounds are Miner Lake and May Creek which is located on MT 43. These are Forest Service campgrounds with fees and stay limits.
Once you drive into the forested foothills, it is possible to pull off the road and set up camp in numerous places. Many of these spots are obvious and have certainly been used for many years. You will be left alone as the Big Hole is remote country. I am not promoting this, just simply stating my observations.
Setting up camp at Rock Island Lakes can be done as well.
When To Climb
July, August, and September.
SW Ridge rock formations
June and October would be dependent on road and snow conditions.
No permits or fees are required. There is a gate at the west end of Miner Lake campground. The Wisdom Ranger District can provide information on any closures. No parking pass is required.
Road and mountain conditions are available through the Wisdom Ranger District at 406-689-3243.
The July/August 2005 issue of Montana Magazine has an excellent article by Bill Cunningham on Homer Youngs Peak, the West Big Hole, and scrambling in this area of the Beaverhead mountains. Montana Magazine
Homer Youngs Peak