Hike to Johnstone Pass

Idaho Johnstone Pass Trailhead

Added by Sara Sheehy

A rarely visited, wildflower filled glacial cirque less than an hour from Ketchum, Idaho. Take in the views with an easy hike, or burn your legs and lungs to the top of 10,000 foot Johnstone Pass with 360 degree views of the Pioneer Mountains.

Johnstone Pass is a diamond in a valley flush with hidden gems.

Turn east onto East Fork Big Wood River Road from Highway 75. Continue through the defunct mining town of Triumph where the road turns to dirt and becomes Forest Service Road 118. At the fork stay right. Pass the Sawmill and Federal Gulch Forest Service campgrounds. Drive to the end of the road, approximately 17 miles from Highway 75. A high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle is a must.

The Johnstone Pass trail begins at the north end of the small parking area. The trail is well cut, though not marked. The beginning elevation is 8,000 feet.

The first mile of the Johnstone Pass trail is largely flat as it meanders through a wide meadow surrounded by 11,000 foot peaks. Wildflowers are prolific from July to early August.

For those seeking a bigger challenge, the trail breaks into steep switchbacks ascending to Johnstone Pass at 10,000 feet. The last quarter mile cuts across a loose scree field which is not for the faint of heart, though passable. From the top of Johnstone Pass the view extends into Box Canyon (a trail drops down to the Box Lakes) and back into the East Fork of the Big Wood River drainage.

Note: the road to Johnstone Pass is often closed from early fall to early summer due to snow.

Pack List

For All Adventurers:
  • High clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Route instructions and/or topo map (no signage for parking or hike)
  • Camera
For Adventurers Hiking up Johnstone Pass:
  • Trekking poles
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Extra water
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

5.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2200 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Awesome!!

Pretty easy hike for the first 2.0 miles gets pretty steep as you work your way to the end at the top of the mountain. I recommend gloves!!! Extremely beautiful & worth the rocky drive.

4 months ago

Added by Sara Sheehy

Adventuress | Photographer | Writer

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