Climb Mount Borah
Idaho › Borah Peak Trailhead
Added by Chris Bruin
Take in spectacular mountain vistas atop the tallest peak in Idaho. This is a very strenuous trail with 30-40% grade for most of the way. Class 3-4 scramble also required at Chicken Out Ridge. There is a campground is at base of mountain, no camping along the trail. Take plenty of water and food as there is no water available and the closest town is over 30 miles away.
Rising high above the sage brush covered landscape, Mount Borah is the tallest mountain in Idaho and is referred to as the "roof of Idaho." This behemoth is part of the Lost River Range in the central part of the state. The strongest earthquake in Idaho occurred along the fault line in 1983 and rose the peak of Mt. Borah by over a foot and a half.
Access to the Mount Borah trailhead (from Boise or Idaho Falls) is along US Highway 93 North thru Arco and Mackay. After passing the Mackay Reservoir continue for another 15 miles to Birch Springs Road. Turn right onto this maintained dirt road, as there will also be a sign to the Mt. Borah Trailhead. Follow dirt road another 3 miles to the Borah Campground where there is ample parking and campsites for those wanting to get a really early start.
From the parking lot the trail heads uphill instantly into the woods. After about 1.5 miles you'll clear the treeline and the trail continues it's long and extremely steep uphill journey to the summit. Once you make it up to the ridge line, the trails lessens its grade a bit until becoming almost vertical at Chicken Out Ridge.
Chicken Out Ridge is when your hike becomes more of a class 3-4 scramble. Due to its shear cliffs and high exposure many people decide to turn around, hence the name. But overall careful footing and a little patience will get you through the ridge just fine and back onto a trail that heads up, up and up to the summit.
From here it is about a half mile up to the summit with a bunch of rocks to trek through. Push through, because your views are out of this world on a clear day. The landscape is truly a spectacle with the scenery resembling something on the moon or another planet. There is flag and a bunch of other cool nick-nacs at the top. Great place to rest and eat lunch before heading back down to the parking lot.
Best time to attempt the summit is late summer when the mountain is pretty much snow free. Be sure to get an early start as afternoon thunderstorms are a possibility and most of this hike is above the treeline.
- Hiking Boots
- Ice Axe (depending on conditions)
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Hardest Climb Ever
This is by far the steepest climb I've ever done. I feel like I was in pretty good shape but towards the top it was rough. The altitude factor is a real thing. I had run a half marathon 2 weeks before and this still was tough. It was winter when I hiked. I had about a 40lb pack because of crampons and ice axes. This added to the difficulty. However this was the most rewarding experience as well. Don't know if I'll do it again but definitely glad I did it.
Seriously Leg Day
The review is pretty accurate. The grade is definitely steep the whole time with the only let up being when you cross the saddle after chicken out ridge. Additionally, you have to pretty much climb a rock face to even get to chicken out ridge (maybe that's included as part of it). Watch out for those stacked meditation rocks that sometimes mark trails since they actually don't in some cases on this hike. I got duped by one and ended up doing a whole lot of extra climbing. I recommend trekking poles big time. Stash them in your pack to cross the ridge, but you'll definitely need them for that last half mile with all the loose rock to the summit. The hike took me 9 hours. I anticipated the downhill taking half as long as the up, but that was not the case. It's way too steep and doesn't allow for any running like I prefer. I fell twice just walking (with trekking poles) since the dirt and rock were so loose) and almost fell another 5 times. I do a lot of mountain hiking and this one turned my legs to jello at the end.
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