Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pioneer Mountains, Copper Basin offer great camping, hiking, fishing in scenic splendor

On the divide above Goat Lake 
Betty Lake with Standhope Peak looming above 
Views from the rooftop of the Pioneers 
Steve and Wendy by Betty Lake 
Awesome campsite at the trailhead 
Trip map (click to enlarge)
Hi all,

I wanted to share some highlights from a sweet camping, hiking and fishing trip that we did several weeks ago in the backside of the Pioneer Mountains. Mid-week, I was already in the neighborhood, working on a story about several ranchers doing some progressive stuff in the Pahsimeroi Valley, so I came into the Pioneers from the Mackay side of Trail Creek Road. My friends Norm and Tim Nelson carpooled from Boise with Wendy and drove up via Sun Valley and Trail Creek Road to the East Fork of the Big Lost River. We met at the Broad Canyon trailhead in Copper Basin.

As I drove up East Fork, the Pioneers looked stunningly impressive and beautiful, and as always, I was excited about exploring a new spot in the Idaho backcountry. Previous to this trip, I had only explored the Pioneers from the Hailey side of the mountains.

The allure of the Pioneers is that they're generally off-the-beaten path, and the steep-faced mountains and peaks are not only super spectacular, but lofty! Many of the giant peaks in the Pioneers are in the 11,000-12,000-foot range, meaning that you have the chance to climb to the rooftop of Idaho! In the Sawtooths and Frank Church Wilderness, the tallest peaks are in the 10,000-foot range.

Broad Canyon turned out to be an excellent pick because it's got a great base camp at the trailhead, we had the whole place to ourselves for a 2.5-day weekend, and the snow was clear enough that Wendy and I were able to hike a circuit from the trailhead to Betty Lake, Goat Lake and Baptie Lake. Tim also bagged Standhope Peak (11,878 feet) from the rocky divide between Betty and Goat lakes.

The loop hike to the high lakes covered about 12 miles and featured 3,500 vertical feet of climbing and descending, so it's a BIG day to pull that off. It took us about 9 hours, including rest stops and lunch. We met Tim at the divide above Goat Lake and hiked back to camp together.

If I'd do it again, I'd backpack to Baptie Lake on Day 1, make a base camp, and then hike up to Goat Lake and Standhope Peak the next day, and walk out on Day 3.

There are many other hiking, camping and fishing trips in the East Fork and Copper Basin area. Here are several:

  • Take the Lake Creek Trail to a high basin with multiple lakes -- Big Lake, Rough Lake, Round Lake and Long Lake. Looks intriguing. It's about 4.5 miles from the trailhead to Big Lake. 
  • Explore Bellas Canyon to Bellas Lakes. It's about 3 miles to Bellas Lakes from the trailhead. This would be a good one for the kids. 
  • Camp in the Copper Basin area and ride mountain bikes on the Copper Basin loop road. This would be a 23-mile loop on a gravel road with 1,200 feet of gain. 
  • Fly fish the East Fork, North Fork or Main Fork of the Big Lost River. There are some nice cutthroat trout in there, plus some rainbows, cutbows, and grayling. Stop in Lost River Outfitters in Ketchum on your way to learn what flies/nymphs work best. 
  • Wildhorse Canyon is a fairly popular destination. The drainage takes you up to the backside of 12,009-foot Hyndman Peak.  
Events coming up this weekend: 
  • Ride Sun Valley Festival - June 27-29. Great chance to check out Sun Valley-area trails with experienced ride leaders, plus a women's clinic with Rebecca Rusch, racing events, movies, beer parties and more. See the event schedule for details. 
  • Terry Reilly/Bob LeBow Blue Cruise - Big road biking event that benefits several charities. Distances of 3, 10, 25, 35, 62 and 100 miles.
  • Pedal 4 the People - Huffy toss and log pull Friday night, grand finale party Saturday night at Crooked Fence Barrel House.  
There you have it! 

- SS

No comments: