South Mountain - 7801'
Distance: 7.4 miles (6.5 miles for South Mountain only)
Elevation gain: 2100' (1500' for South Mountain only)
Class (difficulty): 1
Time: 3.75 hours
Zach and I took advantage of nice fall weather to head out and bag South Mountain. Zach had been on South Mountain before is less than ideal weather, so he didn't mind making a 2nd trip. In an attempt to make the trip a bit more interesting for Zach, I offered a side trip to Jims Peak, which was nearby. Zach was interested either way.
I picked up Zach at 6am and we headed down to the Owyhees. Zach was sporting his Florida Gators hat... the Gators were to play in the SEC championship game later that afternoon. Using Zach's memory, some crude directions off of Mapquest, and common sense; we made our way to the approach road for South Mountain. Despite a dusting of snow and some icy sections on the road, we made it within .5 miles of the ghost town of South Mountain. We probably could have easily driven to the town, but one section seemed like it could be trouble when not frozen later in the day.
We headed up the snowbound road, which goes all the way to the summit. The day was sunny and warm, with a slight breeze. I had not felt so comfortable on a hike in a long time. We made great time and only took one short break for photos on the way up.
The top was a bit windy, but it was warm. We took in views hundreds of miles in each direction... have to love peaks with lots of prominence like South Mountain! There is a lookout on top, a few towers, and an outhouse. The views included Granite Mountain in Nevada, Steens Mountain in Oregon, and the Boise and Trinity Mountains in Idaho. After photos and just hanging out, we started to contemplate our next move. We located Jims Peak, our proposed 2nd peak of the day, and it looked a ways away and LAME. We both noticed a peak to the north that seemed to be somewhat prominent. Off we headed for Peak 7757, which would give us a bit more of a workout and also seemed to have unobstructed views of the Silver City Range.
The trip to 7757 went quickly and sure enough it had great views of the Silver City Range. The peak even had a ATV trail to within 20 or so feet of the summit. It also had a piece of rebar stuck in a rock on top serving as a summit marker of sorts.
We kept a casual pace on the way down and soon realized that we were going to make it back in time for the game. So lunch plans included stopping in Nampa at a Mexican restaraunt we used to visit often for lunch, beers, and the first half of the game. Great day, especially for December!
We followed the road from the town of South Mountain to the top of South Mountain.
Make your way to Jordan Valley, Oregon. Assumming you are coming in from the north, take a left on Yturri Blvd. as the highway abruptly turns west in the middle of the city. I used directions from Mapquest, but they sucked. You will end up driving about 18 miles from town to the turn off for the road that branches off of the main road and heads up Williams Creek drainage to the ghost town of South Mountain. In dry conditions, this could all be approached in a sedan.