Amazing Views from Blackmon Peak!

Views down Antz Basin en route to Blackmon Peak
Views down Antz Basin en route to Blackmon Peak

If you’re looking for one spectacular hike – that doesn’t go to a lake – near Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the hike to Blackmon Peak fits the bill!  It’s not an easy hike (we’re talking over 2,000ft. elevation gain here), but the views from the ridgeline and peak down on Antz Basin and the surrounding White Cloud Mountains make it a true gem.  And that’s not even mentioning the great views of the Sawtooths across the valley!

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 7.8 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Gain: 2,111ft. Pets: Yes Fees: None

Autumn color in the valley with the Sawtooth Mountains across the valley from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Idaho
Autumn color in the valley with the Sawtooth Mountains across the valley

Something I should probably admit here is that I somehow lost my GPS track from this hike.  I have no idea if I just forgot to save it (unlikely but perfectly possible) or if my GPS ate it sometime between my saving it and transferring it to my computer.  But I do have my GPS coordinate file (automatically saved by the GPS).  So the coordinates should be right even if the map (which I tried to recreate – thanks GPS Visualizer!) and GPX download are… close.

Geological folds and textures in the White Cloud Mountains as seen from Blackmon Peak in Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Geological folds and textures in the White Cloud Mountains as seen from Blackmon Peak

It was a cloudy, moody morning when I started out.  I’d spent the night at the trailhead, and it was quiet and uneventful except for something huge walking through the parking lot during the night (I’m thinking it was an elk).  (Actually, there are quite a number of campsites further down the road which are much nicer.)  The trailhead tells you to take the trail for Fourth of July Lake, Washington Lake, and Born Lakes.  Almost immediately, the path crosses Fourth of July Creek.

Fourth of July Creek near the trailhead, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Fourth of July Creek near the trailhead

The trail passes through the forest up to a turnoff for Phyllis Lake after 0.15 miles.  Cross the road here and continue toward Fourth of July Lake.  (The road goes up to a mine area – you can see the mine from the ridge and Blackmon Peak later on.)  The scenery after this continues to be mostly in the forest, though you’ll enter a burned area before reaching the turnoff for Fourth of July Lake.  Before the burned section, you’ll cross at least one marshy area – fun times! – and cross a small creek, as well.

Looking up at Blackmon Peak from the burned-out forest on the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Looking up at Blackmon Peak from the burned-out forest

After about 1.7 miles, you’ll come to a trail junction marked for Washington Lake (right) and Born Lakes (left).  If you turn right here for about a tenth of a mile, you’ll come to Fourth of July Lake.  I did that, but I’ll detail it in another post.  To reach Blackmon Peak, turn left toward Born Lakes.

The Born Lakes Trail - we were on our way down when all of these sunny photos were taken.  Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
The Born Lakes Trail – we were on our way down when all of these sunny photos were taken

While you’ve been moderately ascending for most if not all of the hike, at this point, the trail really begins to climb.  We puffed and panted our way up the next 0.7 miles to an unnamed lake, where we paused to have a snack.

The unnamed lake along the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
The unnamed lake

The trail continues steeply upward, angling up along the side of the hill.  Views begin to open up in a peek-a-boo sort of way to nearby peaks and valleys and the Sawtooth mountains across the valley.

Peek-a-boo views to the Sawtooth Mountains from the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Peek-a-boo views to the Sawtooth Mountains

Shortly before cresting the ridgeline, we saw a trail on the right leading up to a slightly higher view on the ridgeline.  Intrigued, and hopeful of views, and not realizing just how close we were to the ridgeline, we took the side trail.  The views were amazing!

Views down on Antz Basin, which had been my intended destination for the day... until...  Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Views down on Antz Basin, which had been my intended destination for the day… until…

From there, it was an easy scramble down to the wilderness boundary sign.  Here the trail for Antz Basin (and Born Lakes) turns right to descend into the basin.  But we’re mountain-top views kind of people, so instead of following the trail, we followed a well-worn social path straight along the ridgeline.

Hiking a few steps down the Antz Basin Trail for photos, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Hiking a few steps down the Antz Basin Trail for photos

The hiking is fairly easy (compared to what you’ve just come up, at least) with only minor scrambling in a few places (up to a mild Class 3 due to exposure, not difficulty).  But in general, it’s a sweet little ridgeline ramble with fantastic views down into Antz Basin (right) and across the valley (left) to the Sawtooth Mountains.

Hiking along the ridgeline toward Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Hiking along the ridgeline toward Blackmon Peak

The trail gives out after a while, but it’s not hard to figure out where to go: Stay on the ridge!

Looking back along the ridgeline en route to Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Looking back along the ridgeline

At last, about 3.8 miles from the parking area, you’ll come to the base of Blackmon Peak.  It looks very steep, long, and difficult.  In reality, it’s steep, short (about 0.1 miles), and a slightly difficult Class 2 scramble.  Before I knew it, we were at the top!

Peaks of the White Cloud Mountains from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Peaks of the White Cloud Mountains

You’ve been seeing fabulous views the entire way along the ridgeline, but this was the icing on the cake.  The geological wonders in the White Cloud Mountains (including colorful hills, towering peaks, and prominent geological folds) were absolutely jaw-dropping.  And that’s not including the lovely Antz Basin, the Sawtooth Mountains across the valley, and views that range far north and west beyond the mountains.

Fourth of July Lake and views south from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Fourth of July Lake and views southeast from Blackmon Peak

The autumn colors were also nice.

Fourth of July Creek in the valley below Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Fourth of July Creek in the valley below Blackmon Peak

Retrace your steps to return to the parking area.  Blackmon Peak is not an easy hike by any means, but it is well worth the effort to see the view!

Wildflowers on Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Wildflowers on Blackmon Peak

Round Trip Trail Length: 7.8 miles out & back (8.2 miles if you tack on 4th of July Lake, too)

Elevation Gain: 2,100ft. (8,749ft. to 10,272ft.)

Facilities: Primitive restrooms at the trailhead

Fees: None

Views into Antz Basin with views toward the Born Lakes, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Views into Antz Basin with views toward the Born Lakes

Trail Notes: Born Lakes and Antz Basin are a very popular (by local standards only) backpacking destination.  Many even do a loop over to Washington Lake and back to the trailhead.  Use care as you scramble the ridgeline – there are a few small but sketchy moves.  Be wary of hunters in season as well as afternoon thundershowers in summer – this is a very exposed ridgeline!

Views east-ish back down the ridgeline from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Views east-ish back down the ridgeline from Blackmon Peak

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Geological folds and textures in the White Cloud Mountains as seen from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Geological folds and textures

GPS Coordinates for Blackmon Peak & Antz Basin

TH: 44.0466080°, -114.6576190° (44°02.79648′, -114°39.45714′ / 44°02’47.7888″, -114°39’27.4284″) (8,775ft.) (0.0)

Phyllis Lake Junction: 44.0465470°, -114.6552470° (44°02.79282′, -114°39.31482′ / 44°02’47.5692″, -114°39’18.8892″) (8,803ft.) (0.16)

Washington Lake Junction: 44.0454230°, -114.6342110° (44°02.72538′, -114°38.05266′ / 44°02’43.5228″, -114°38’03.1596″) (9,376ft.) (1.72) (1.6)

4th of July Lake: 44.0440770°, -114.6332530° (44°02.64462′, -114°37.99518′ / 44°02’38.6772″, -114°37’59.7108″) (9,371ft.) (1.84)

An autumn meadow along the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
An autumn meadow along the Born Lakes Trail

Unnamed lake: 44.0499000°, -114.6306770° (44°02.99400′, -114°37.84062′ / 44°02’59.6400″, -114°37’50.4372″) (9,708ft.) (2.58) (2.2)

Wilderness Boundary:  44.0535550°, -114.6391230° (44°03.21330′, -114°38.34738′ / 44°03’12.7980″, -114°38’20.8428″) (9,899ft.) (3.22)

Blackmon Peak: 44.0582160°, -114.6525640° (44°03.49296′, -114°39.15384′ / 44°03’29.5776″, -114°39’09.2304″) (10,291ft.) (4.15) (3.5)

Views to the northern Sawtooth Mountains from Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Views to the northern Sawtooth Mountains

The gpx file for Blackmon Peak can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.  Also note that I created this on a map, so it may not be quite as accurate as some of my other gpx downloads!

Download GPX File size: 35.4 KB Downloaded 10 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Hiking down the Born Lakes Trail after ascending Blackmon Peak, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Hiking down the Born Lakes Trail after ascending Blackmon Peak

Getting to the Blackmon Peak Trailhead

From Stanley, Idaho, drive south on ID-75S (toward Ketchum).  After 14.8 miles, turn left onto Forest Road 70209 (marked for the Fourth of July Lakes).  This is after crossing Fourth of July Creek; the road just north of Fourth of July Creek is not the right one.  Continue up the dirt road for 10 miles to the obvious trailhead at what might as well be the end of the road.

Cliffs across the valley from the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Cliffs across the valley from the Born Lakes Trail

From Ketchum, drive north on ID-75N.  After 46.1 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 70209.  This is just before crossing Fourth of July Lake; if you cross the bridge, you know you’ve gone too far.  Continue up the dirt road for 10 miles to the obvious trailhead at what might as well be the end of the road.

Sunset along Fourth of July Creek, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Sunset along Fourth of July Creek

I found the road to be slow and bumpy but quite passable.  High clearance was an asset but I recall seeing both pickups and low-clearance cars at the trailhead.  There are quite a few campsites for dispersed camping along the road.

Visual trail map and elevation profile for my route up Blackmon Peak via the Born Lakes Trail, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho
Visual trail map and elevation profile for my route up Blackmon Peak via the Born Lakes Trail

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