Wilderness Peak. Not well known but lots of fun!
Wilderness Peak is a pretty low profile and overlooked peak when viewed from the west because of its being the high point of a ridge. But from the east it is quite a bit more dramatic with a number of sheer cliffs on its side and a few galcial lakes at it's foot. It's true shape is a little more visible from the east as well because the view is not obstructed by other mountains. Nevertheless it is still more challenging and I think, fun to climb from the west. It is 9,460 ft. tall and is the second highest peak in Franklin County, Idaho. From the east you are already at around 8,000 ft. in Franklin basin so it's not too long. From the west the best route is via Maple Creek which starts in the Cache Valley at around 5,000 ft. Maple Creek and the surrounding area of the west side of the Bear River Range is also a wilderness study area and allows no motorized vehichles. It has been proposed that it be added onto the Mt. Naomi Wilderness Area just to the south in Utah. So, The route from the west is really fun and challenging. It is about a 5 mile round trip. Here's how it goes.......
Near the Maple Creek Trailhead.
To get to Wilderness peak from the west you need to first get to Franklin, Idaho. It is a small town just over the Idaho border and is actually the oldest permanent settlement in Idaho! Hwy.91 runs through the Cache Valley going through Logan, UT and on north through Preston, ID until it meets
I-15 near Downey, ID. Franklin is south of Preston and like I said is just barely over the border in Idaho. You will need to turn east onto Franklin's main street and go all the way till you get to a T. Then take a left and follow the road through a few twists and turns until you get to Maple Creek Road. There will be a large dairy farm off to the right. Turn east on it and follow the road all the way until you can go no further. You'll pass some old corrals and get to kind of a turn around area. The road continues off to the left so keep going! This isn't the end! This road will end at a trailhead after a little drive. There is room to park as well. The trail is gated off so that no motorized vehicle can get in. (Even then some do and make a mess.)You're ready to start!
The trail up Maple Creek is in fairly good condition but it very rough and there are quite a few stream crossing and rocky sections. The first part of the trail doesn't gain elevation very fast and it shaded quite nicely by the forest.
The trickiest part are all the stream crossing. When there is lots of snow the creek can be quite high and fast moving in the spring. The trail and the old road has washed out a number of times as you will be able to see.
Most of the crossings can be handled by jumping onto rocks but a few of them will require you to get your feet wet.
The trail eventually comes out into a more open area with meadows a trees. and you will eventually get to Maple Creek Spring. The spring is really quite large and beautiful. It is just off the trail to the right in the end of a little hollow and comes strait out of the side of a heavily forested, and VERY steep mountainside. This is the last place you can get water on this route so bring a filter and fill up here. The water tastes GREAT and is VERY COLD!There is also a little campsite there where you can take a rest.
To continue on you will have to cross the creek one more time just down from the spring and start up the hill. From here on the trail gains a lot of elevation really fast but is in pretty good shape. It is hard to find at first but it gets clearer later on. It will head towards the north slope of the canyon. (Not the north FACING slope!) There really aren't any switchbacks so you'll just have to head straight up the mountain. It will follow the north side all the way to the top of the ridge. You will at first be in a forested area but it will peter out and you will be exposed with no shade fro a while. It an get really hot there depending on when in the year and what time of day you're there. Eventually just before you get to the top you will get into a really thisk forest of HUGE trees. It is very beautiful! After the forest you wil be on top of the ridge and you will be able to see Cache Valley and the entire route you've take to that point on the west. To the east you'll see Franklin Basin. Last time I was there there was a trail sign telling you where you were. From there you will be able to see Wilderness Peak to the south and you'll think, "It's not over yet?"! All you need to do is follow the ridge you're on to the south until you reach the summit. It's a pretty decent climb from there and the peak looks a lot more imposing than it does from where you came from. There is a very nice view from the summit and you will be well rewarded!
To get back just follow the route you came up on.
The only thing you will really need are a good pair of boots and I would highly recommend that you have some hiking poles. The trail is a bit rough and steep in a few places which can be hard on your knees. They are also VERY handy while crossing the creek lower down.
You will also want to wear very light clothing in the summer. Soem of the exposed ridges can get REALLY hot and that makes it miserable for a while....but it's worth it!
You will need either A LOT of water of a purifier. Lower down in the canyon water is plentiful until you pass the spring. That is also the easy and shaded part of the trail. Once you leave the creek there is no water and this is the most difficult part of the. So make SURE you fill up or you won't make it to the top. If you do happen to run out you could take a detour to Gibson Lakes below the peak on the east but you'd loose a lot of elevation and go quite a ways out of you way to do so. Just fill up at the spring. It's better that way. You'll probably want at LEAST 3 liters.
This could be made into a short but fun overnighter if you don't like moving too fast so you could bring a tent and a stove and everything else you'd need.
This is a good link to some more information about the general area. Click here.
More Pictures Coming!