This was part of a Montana trip involving county high points for Shoshone (ID); Mineral; Ravalli; Granite; Deer Lodge; Beaverhead; Fremont (ID); and Madison. (Initially I had wanted to go after the remaining county high points in the Beartooths (having summited Granite Peak in 2018), but my body was providing some signs that I not provided myself sufficient recovery time this summer, so I kept this trip to day hikes/scrambles.)
At the time I kicked the trip off, the Bear Creek fire was still raging in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, so I know smoke would be a factor. Just about as soon as I crossed the Idaho Panhandle the smoke was detectable, haze slowly thickening and my eyes and throat getting scratchy. Not a great start.
The roads from the Superior exit on I-90 are fine for all vehicles. I met several vehicles on my way in, including a couple pickups as I turned onto road 7813 -- so there is some traffic out here. However, the "trailhead" (really just a wide berth at a hairpin turn) was empty of people.
I got an early evening start thanks to starting my day in Seattle and spending several hours exploring Wallace (I highly recommend the Sierra Mine Tour and the Pulaski Tunnel Trail), so I planned to finish in the dark.
The trail starts as an old ATV track. One could mountain bike this if desired; however after a mile the trail becomes singletrack and gets considerable steeper and more technical (at least if one is on a bike). Once on the singletrack, peekaboo views begin to reveal Illinois Peak. Throughout the latter half of the walk I could see some of the surrounding peaks as well, all cloaked in wildfire smoke. At about 200 vertical feet below the summit the trail fades in and out, but the direction of the summit is obvious. I'd initially directed my steps toward a rock outcrop but it became clear the true summit was a couple hundred yards beyond.
I walked to the highest point, a rock outcrop where a fire tower once stood. About all that remains of it now is short concrete stairs. Seeing no benchmark, I walked to an adjacent (but slightly shorter) rock outcrop where I found the benchmark and a small cairn. I made myself comfortable to enjoy the sunset, because while the smoke was unpleasant, it usually makes for a great light show at dusk. To this end I was not disappointed.
I made the short walk back in remaining twilight. Car to car took 2:45, including 20 minutes at the summit watching sunset. I saw no one the entire time. This was a super chill nice and easy walk to kick off the trip.
Climbed/trail ran/hiked Illinois Peak via Cascade Pass. Great trail, 9.2 miles round trip according to my Garmin watch.
The road to Red Ives is long and bumpy. Passable with a regular car but a little clearance (2WD) goes a long way.
Quick, pleasant hike up from Freezout Pass after doing the long Pearl Lake/south ridge route up Quartz Benchmark the day before. Pretty area with a very northwestern feel. Great distant views into some remote country in Idaho.
It was a pretty fun hike.
A really beautiful day with my parents along the Stateline trail! Great views in all directions! On the way back, since I was in the area, I decided to summit Graves Peak, Gold Crown Peak and Oregon Peak. Illinois Peak can be reached easily on trail from all four directions - Cascade Pass, Freezout Pass, Hoodoo Pass, and St. Joe Lake.
Hiked with Dean on a lovely day. Nice area.
Dennis Poulin and I were about 2/3rds up the mountain when we started hearing wolves communicating with each other. It sounded like three or four and when Dennis made a wolf type call, he was answered back immediately. It was weird to hear wolves like that so close but an indication that the wolves are definitely making headway in Montana/Idaho. The hike to the peak was fairly straightforward and the wolves just added to the flavor of the area.
I found this hike using a Montana hiking book (I'm from Ohio and spent the summer in Helena). I do not know what Freezeout Pass is, I parked at Cascade Pass right on the state line at the top of the ridge, part of the Stateline Trail. I went by myself and hiked 2.5 hours to the the summit of Illinois Peak. It was a hot July day, mid-90s as much of the summer was this year. There were still a few snow fields on the side of the mountain though. The only wildlife I saw was a very nice-sized buck on the trail. I made plenty of noise, however, being by myself. While driving to the pass I saw what appeared to be a fisher cross the road, I could be wrong. I was disappointed to find the ledger was not at the summit, but I did see the crosses mentioned. Great views of some alpine lakes. Did not see any other individuals on the trail and the only tracks other than my own were that of some moose. After a nice rest on the summit it took me just 1.5 hours to reach the parking lot. Overall, great, rather easy hike.
Climbed with my future wife. We camped at St. Joe Lake. We had a long hike into the lake and had to ford a river along the way. It was a great spot to camp though.
Road blocked by trees and snow. Parked near Gildersleeve Mine. Patches of snow to Freezeout then 2-6 feet of snow the rest of the way except for a short section of the single track that had melted out. I had snowshoes but the snow was hard enough that I didn't have to use them.
Talked to the family that owns the Gildersleeve Mine and they said they welcome drop in visitors (stay away from the shaft!). Lots of historical pictures and they told me the two crosses on the summit are for their relatives.
We walked the trail from Freezeout Pass. It was cold and windy that day. We then went down to St. Joe Lake and caught cutthroats non-stop for the couple hours we were there. There were fresh wolf tracks on the ridge just south of the summit.
Duane and I bagged this county highpoint on our way to meet up with saintgrizzly in Missoula for our McDonald Peak effort. Gorgeous day and great views of Idaho and Montana wildness. Fun hike.
Hardest part about this hike was finding a Forest Service Road that wasn't closed due to the forest fires. Came up from the Montana side and then northwest to Freezeout Pass. After hiking the peak I drove south into Idaho. Weather was nice. I had the peak all to myself. A few miles southeast of here I got a good closeup view of a helicopter dumping water on a burning tree.
Climbed this summit on a couple occasions over the past three years, including the route following the St. Joe River Trail and up from St. Joe Lake, which incidently has incredible alpine cutthroat fishing. Nothing overly spectacular about this hulking summit, but the wildlife as in most of the Bitteroot Mountain range is ever present. Most I know use this summit as a side trip when fishing the lakes in the region.
Fun, quick climb. Chilly for a July day, with clouds and wind.
This was an Idaho county highpoint #2 for the day. The drive East on highway 12 was beautiful.
The weather was cloudy, and a little rainy. Not much to see, but occasional breaks in the clouds. A pretty area with not a soul in sight. Three moose spotted on the road back to I-90.