Thursday, April 30, 2015

Try the Boise "Grand Slam Peaks" - Climb Four Mountain Peaks Close to Home

Mt. Heinen (courtesy Tom Lopez) Grand Slam Peak #4
It's a long ridge walk from Three Point Mountain to Kepros Peak (courtesy Tom Lopez)
Kepros is Grand Slam Peak #2
Boise State students band birds of prey and songbirds on the top of Lucky Peak
in the fall during the migration season. Good time to visit!
Lucky Peak is Grand Slam Peak #3
Top of Cervidae Peak - Grand Slam Peak #1
Hi all,

A friend of mine casually mentioned the "Grand Slam" to me recently about bagging four mountain peaks close to Boise. It's an intriguing idea, and I thought I should pass it on! The Grand Slam is the brainchild of Tom Lopez, author of the excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide. He calls them the "Grand Slam Peaks" in a great blog post detailing the routes on his web site.

If you have been thinking about climbing some mountains this year or backpacking in the high country, these local mountains are a great starting point for getting your legs and lungs in shape. As Lopez points out, these mountains melt off early and provide plenty of challenge to prepare you for tackling taller mountains in Central Idaho this summer.

Plus, it just so happens that the Idaho Hiking Club (Facebook Meetup group) is leading hikes to all four Grand Slam Peaks in the next week or so. The hikes are being led by Chad Rohr. When I spoke to Chad today, he had 12 openings for climbing Cervidae on Friday afternoon, three for the Lucky Peak hike next weekend, and five openings on the Mount Heinen hike on Sunday, May 10. Sign up via the Idaho Hiking Club web site.

Two of the four mountains in the Grand Slam -- Cervidae Peak and Shaw Mountain/Lucky Peak -- are featured in my new book, Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home. Cervidae is a steep, 2.2-mile hike one-way with 2,000 feet of vertical gain, starting from the trailhead near Spring Shores Marina next to Lucky Peak Reservoir. The hike is rated strenuous!

There are multiple ways to climb to the top of Shaw Mountain/Lucky Peak ... either from the Homestead Trail near Harris Ranch or from Highland Valley Road off of Idaho 21. It's a 13-mile loop with 3,158 feet of vertical gain, to climb to the top of Lucky Peak via Homestead Trail and Trail #8, and then descend on Trail #E and Trail #11 to end up at the Crow Inn for a beer. Lopez says he likes to mountain bike to the top so he can enjoy the fast descent. I'd recommend that too for hikers who also mountain bike.

The other two peaks involved in the Grand Slam are Kepros Peak (5,428 feet) and Mount Heinen (6,336 feet). Hiking to Kepros involves 1,700 vertical feet of gain as you walk a total of 10 miles out and back from the trailhead at the summit of Black's Creek Road (take I-84 exit and head toward Prairie). You hike up to a saddle above the road near Three Point Mountain (5,324 feet) and then do a giant ridge walk to Kepros Peak. This hike is rated strenuous because of the distance.

Mount Heinen is the tallest of the four Grand Slam peaks at elevation 6,336 feet. The trailhead is along the Middle Fork Boise River Road, which goes by Lucky Peak Reservoir and Arrowrock Dam. The trail starts up the mountain just past the Irish Creek Boat Ramp. The trail goes directly up the mountain, reaches the first ridgetop and then you do a long ridge walk to the top of Mount Heinen. The hike is 4.5 miles one-way. Lopez rates it strenuous. Allow about 7-8 hours for the hike. Carry plenty of water and food.

"My favorite is Heinen because it s straight up for the first 1.8 miles, then you discover that you're not even halfway to the peak," says Chad Rohr, who's leading a series of hikes to the Grand Slam Peaks for the Idaho Hiking Club. "If and when you make it to the top, the accomplishment is felt deeply in your body."

Lopez likes to hike the Grand Slam Peaks in this order:
1. Cervidae (usually melts out first)
2. Kepros
3. Lucky Peak
4. Mt. Heinen.

This year, snow is not a limiting factor on any of these mountains, so I'd say go for it! Many thanks to Tom Lopez for the inspiration, and to Chad Rohr of the Idaho Hiking Club for leading the hikes! But none of these routes are hard to follow in my opinion, so feel free to pick them off when you have time. Take your kids!

BTW - Two of these peaks are located in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, owned by Idaho Fish and Game, and two of them are in the Boise National Forest.
Alpenglow mountainsport is having their used boat swap on Saturday, May 2nd, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Great place to find discounted flatwater kayaks, whitewater kayaks, inflatable kayaks, whitewater rafts, paddles, life jackets, wet suits, dry suits, etc.!

Pam Conley is leading a family birding walk on Sunday, May 3rd, starting at 9 a.m. from the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center, on N. 8th Street after the road turns to dirt. Email Pam at



Unknown said...

Anybody know if it's legal/illegal to mountain bike up Cervidae using the standard well worn but unofficial trail up the SE ridge?

Steve Stuebner said...

The trail to Cervidae is too steep to climb for mtn biking ... and you'd skid all the way downhill cuz it's so steep that way, too ... not really suitable for biking, that's what I'd say.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Steve. I partially agree with you about the ascent due to ruts, but the downhill is fine. If the trail didn't contain deep ruts I think it would be doable in both directions. Video of my ride:

Unknown said...

Cervidae is now official!

Steve Stuebner said...

That's great!

Unknown said...

Set new speed record for summiting all four local "Grand Slam Peaks". Adding my own twist, I went one step further and connected them all under my own power.

Consensus is mission accomplished!
Total time: 20 hrs 13 mins (bike 13 hrs, hike 7 hrs)
First trailhead to final summit: 16 hrs 22 mins
Distance: 93 miles (bike 81 miles, hike 12 miles)
Gain: 15k' (bike 12k', hike 3.5k')

Steve Stuebner said...

Wow, that's totally impressive! Hopefully others will try this as well!

Unknown said...

Thank you Steve. As discussed in those links it should be relatively easy to beat and I too hope others will complete this. Figured you'd be interested given our previous comments above.

Unknown said...

A group of just tried and accomplished! Fun stuff.