Heading for the summit
At the summit
Mountains with a unique name often stand out from the ones named "Granite" or "Baldy" or "Goat", etc. This one, Old Tom Mountain, is unusual considering it was named after a mountain lion that once roamed the area. From Mountaingazelle's fine page about the Bannock range
, she provides the following information: "Old Tom Mountain is the highest mountain in the northern end of the (Bannock) range. It was named after a well known mountain lion that lived in the area. Old Tom Mountain is the third most prominent peak in the range after Oxford and Elkhorn Peak. The mountain was first climbed in the 1870’s by the Hayden Survey."
Old Tom Mountain is attractive to lots of folks, primarily the ones who live nearby in Pocatello and love to ride their ATV's on the dirt roads that litter the area. Then, there are those who are into chasing the prominence peaks and since this mountain ranks #31 on the Idaho prominence list
, it definitely warrants attention. With 2913 feet of prominence, it towers over the nearby surroundings and dominates the skyline to the west of I-15 as it makes its way south from Pocatello towards the Utah-Idaho border.
From Pocatello, head south on the Bannock highway and pass the Cherry Springs campground turnoff. After driving another 3 miles or so, watch for a turnoff onto the South Fork Mink road southeast, driving roughly 5 miles on this road until you reach the forest service road often referred to as the Scout Mountain Top mountain road on the topo map (but not signed as such). It had a forest service road number (which I didn't write down) and I've put GPS waypoints on the key junction on one of the maps I've created for this SP page. From the beginning of the Scout Mountain Top road to the jeep track that you turn on, it is another 5 miles. I've waypointed that turn off for the jeep track as well on the map. Travel as far on the jeep track as you feel comfortable although we stopped at a spot where a trail from Mormon Canyon intersects the jeep track. You could continue further but the road seems better suited to ATV's. From the point where we parked to the summit is was slightly over 4 miles roundtrip to hike it with about 1300 feet of elevation gain.
The road that accesses Old Tom Mountain (as outlined above in the "getting there" section, is on forest Service land and there was no red tape. However, early in the season, if there is snow on the road, the road will be gated near the start and this would add ten plus miles round trip if hiked from the gate.
For more information, contact:
4350 Cliffs Drive
Pocatello, Idaho 83204
You could camp in the national forest using dispersed camping techniques where allowed. Also nearby I noted Cherry Creek campground on the map just off the Bannock Highway as well as the Scout Mountain campground. You would need to check with the ranger district to find out the status of the campgrounds in the area. Pocatello also has plenty of fine motels to choose from.
Weather for PocatelloPocatello Idaho
Since our visit, Phillip Von Bargen has added his GPS route and some interesting information about the register HERE
A large cairn is placed on the summit along with an aging register. Nearby is a witness benchmark with Old Tom written on it but we were unable to find the central benchmark. Perhaps it is under the cairn. The register was placed many years before and had a lot of entries in its pages. Normally I take photos of the registers pages but for some reason, I failed to do so for this one.