Bull Trout Point - 8876 Feet
Location: 44.3299°N, 115.2876°W
Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation gain: 2300'
Class (difficulty): 2
Time: 6.5 hours
Range: Salmon River
The start of this hike is beyond the avalanche closure gates on Idaho 21. So if you are coming in from the Boise side during a snowstorm, be advised that you could potentially be "locked out" should avalanche conditions worsen during your trip. This would force you to drive around through Sun Valley to get back to Boise.
Bull Trout Point was on my "to-do" list all winter. Everytime I planned to do it, the forecast would deteriorate or something would come up and force me to cancel. So Zach and I finally decided to just do it on a weekday due to a good weather forecast and nothing else to get in the way. Several years ago Zach and I had attempted the peak in a snowstorm, so it was a reunion of some sort.
We headed up at a leisurely pace, arriving at the trailhead around 9:30am. We weren't sure what to expect with snow conditions, because it had been fairly warm and hadn't snowed in about 5 days. The initial portion of the trip was on the flats and we found an old trail covered by 4 or 5 inches of snow. The going was fast as we headed to the base of the east ridge. The base of the ridge was thick trees with some steep sections. The snow was mid-calf deep, but certainly acceptable. We took turns breaking trail and one 300-400 foot section actually was entirely hard-packed snow and the going was superb. Between the end of that section and the summit, the snow was windblown and about 6 inches deep. As you hike along the ridge towards Bull Trout Point, the views increase as the ridge drops steeply to the north, even cliffing out in several spots.
As we hiked the ridge, the weather turned from sunny, to high clouds, to cloudy when we reached the summit. We were just glad to be on top and snapped a lot of photos before heading down.
The hike out was uneventful, but we were both tired, so it was slow going. About a 1/4 mile from the trailhead, I mentioned to Zach that a meal in Stanley would be awesome even if it required a 20 minute drive. Zach agreed and we finished off a great hike with a good meal and beer at the Mountain Village Resort.
From Boise, head northwest on Highway 21 past Lowman and Grandjean to Banner Summit. 1.25 miles past Banner Summit, there is a plowed turnout on the left hand side of the road, park here. The vicinity of the turnout is at the beginning of the Bull Trout Lake road.