Peak 7,971 is located in the extreme north east corner of Gen County where Gem County meets Valley and Adams Counties. Peak 7,971 is located in the West Mountain Range in the Boise National Forest
. Peak 7,971 is the County Highpoint of Gem County, Idaho. For more information on climbing the highpoints of the 44 counties of Idaho, follow this link to the County Highpointing Organization: Idaho CoHP’s
There are great views in all directions from the summit of Peak 7,971. To the northeast about 3.5 miles is the large Cascade Reservoir and to the south about 5.0 miles is Snowbank Mountain.
This is not a difficult climb, but it is scenic and fun.
There appears to be at least 3 different ways to access Peak 7,971. One is from Cascade Reservoir. Another is from Snowbank Mountain. The route I chose is from the southwest up Poison Creek. Any 2WD vehicle should be able to get to the trailhead unless there is snow on the road.
To find the Poison Creek trailhead, you first have to find the little town of Ola. Ola is about 9 miles north of Hwy 52 between Emmett and Horseshoe Bend. About 9 miles west of Horseshoe Bend is a signed turnoff for Ola. A good landmark in Ola is the little historic church
on the south end of town. From this church go north through town 0.3 miles and then take the left fork onto road 618. The road is still paved here but it will soon turn to gravel. At 5.4 miles the road splits with the right fork crossing a little bridge. Take the left fork instead of crossing the bridge. At 11.1 miles road 618 comes back from the right and joins the road you are on and it is road 618 again. Continue straight ahead. At 16.2 miles, stay left. At 21.1 miles, go right towards Third Fork Guard Station on road 625. At 26.8 miles turn left onto road 646. At 30.5 miles there is a left fork that goes uphill from the main road. Follow this up a couple hundred yards to where it ends. If you miss this turn and find the end of the road instead in about .7 miles, turn around and come back to this turnoff.
Where this road ends there is a sign saying motor vehicles are prohibited from going further. There is also a sign indicating this is Poison Creek Trail No. 134. There is a fire ring here if you wanted to camp for the night. There is only parking for a couple of cars here. Make sure you park off the road to let others pass. Elevation here is about 5,870 ft.
No Red Tape for this hike. If you have questions about the area or need a campfire permit, contact the Boise National Forest
. Peak 7971 is right on the border of the Boise National Forest and the Payette National Forest to the north and west. If you want to hike in from that direction, you may want to contact the Payette National Forest
Boise National Forest Headquarters
1249 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 200
Boise, ID 83709
TTY: (208) 373-4265
Interagency Visitor Information Center
1387 S. Vinnell Way
Boise, ID 83709
(208) 373-4007 with optional recorded info
Cascade Ranger District
Hwy 55 PO Box 696
Cascade, ID 83611
Lowman Ranger District
Hwy 21 HC-77, Box 3020
Lowman, ID 83637
Emmett Ranger District
1805 Hwy 16, #5
Emmett, ID 83617
Mountain Home Ranger District
2180 American Legion Blvd.
Mountain Home, ID 83647
Idaho City Ranger District
Hwy 21, milepost 38.5
PO Box 129
Idaho City, ID 83631
Payette National Forest
PO Box 1026
800 West Lakeside Ave
McCall ,Idaho 83638
McCall District Ranger Office
PO Box 1026
102 West Lake Street
McCall, Idaho 83638
New Meadows District Ranger Office
PO Box J
3674 Highway 95
New Meadows, Idaho 83654
Council Ranger District Office
PO Box 567
500 East Whitely
Council, Idaho 83612
Weiser Ranger District Office
851 East 9th Street
Weiser, Idaho 83672
Lots of camping areas are nearby. Follow these links.
Boise National Forest Camping
Payette National Forest Camping
The trailhead has unimproved camping locations too.
For Backpack Camping there are also plenty of sites along the trail. This is Open Range area and there are cows that will compete with you for campsites. The cows have stomped out nice sites under many of the trees along the trail. Also, on or near the summit there are flat areas that would make nice campsites.
When to Climb
Since this peak is only 7,971 ft in elevation, it is accessible year round. Obviously, in the winter and spring the access will probably be via snowmobile, cross country skis, or snowshoes. When I climbed this peak on 4 August 2006, there were still snow patches on the north side of the ridge.
Mountain Conditions/ Weather Information
This hike can be quite hot in the summer. Winter can also have its own problems. Make sure you are prepared properly for your hike.
Horseshoe Bend Weather