Pioneer Cabin

Our nine day adventure to Central Idaho was coming to an end and Kim and I were up for one more day hike. Smoke from nearby fires was not inundating the valley this day and we chose a close in hike. Only about a 10 mile drive from home. We started fairly early to beat the mid 80s heat. Pioneer Cabin can be reached from a number of trails. We chose the most popular one via Corral Creek. This trip had the lowest starting elevation of any of our trips at "only" about 6950'. The cabin sits just below a saddle at 9460'.

The Pioneer Cabin was built in 1937 as a backcountry destination for skiers. It is very rustic with two small rooms. It does have one spectacular view of the Pioneer Mountains. Although this is one of the more popular trails in the Sun Valley area there were only 4 cars in the parking lot this Saturday morning. The trail begins by quickly entering forest. In fact, the first 2+ miles were all in forest. Especially nice coming down in the afternoon heat.

The grade is steady and never steep. After heading up the valley for awhile the trail begins a long series of switchbacks. Kim immediately picked up an old trail heading straight up the slope. At some point the route was much shorter and steeper. The new trail looks to be fairly old. With such a dry climate it takes a long time for nature to remove an old trail.

We were caught and passed by a women with her older children. Turns out she lived in Kirkland, WA before moving to Ketchum. Small world. We had a few days of high elevation under our belts but were still no match for the locals. We transitioned from forest to open slopes and meadows. They are mostly composed of sagebrush with some groves of trees as well. Some wildflowers were still in bloom. A father and his two young children then caught us. The eight year old had no trouble with 8000' elevation.

Higher up we caught up with them again. Fritz told us of his father, Florian Haemmerle who was an original ski guide at Sun Valley. He named a number of the Pioneer Mountains. It's fun to walk into a little of the area's history. Out in the open it was getting warm but the great views more than compensated us. We crossed a high plateau of sagebrush and I began to wonder just where the saddle was.

Finally I could see a series of switchbacks heading up to a saddle. Another group was closing in and I was still feeling pretty good so I turned on the speed for the last few hundred feet. I felt pretty good as I topped out at the wide grassy saddle. Right ahead is the core of the Pioneer Range. Cobb (11,650') is at right, then Old Hyndman (11,775'), and the top of Hyndman (12,009'). Duncan Ridge sits in front of the big peaks. What a heck of a view! Right below us sat the Pioneer Cabin.

Kim soon arrived and we dropped down to the cabin. It was very warm and we went looking for some shade. Seattlites don't adapt that quickly. Just beyond the cabin is a dense stand of tall evergreen trees. The center has been hollowed out leaving a nice big shady space. We were able to eat and cool down all at once. There were several groups when we arrived but they all soon left. This was just an early day exercise hike for them. We don't live nearby and were ready for a nice long stay on top.

We went into the cabin to find it is not all that large and covered in graffiti. Still, it looks to be structurally sound. A trail drops four miles to the valley below. We did not have that amount of time. Looking over to Duncan Ridge the slopes were covered by meadows. I could imagine spending days wandering up there. All to soon we packed up to head down. The trail is gentle so it was easy on our knees coming down. We passed a number of groups coming up in the afternoon heat. I was glad to be coming down.

By the time the heat began to get to me we were back in forest. It was much cooler and made for a very nice descent. This is a great trail to a terrific viewpoint. It makes me wish I had more time to scramble up Hyndman and Old Hyndman. Hopefully, I'll be back next year to give it a shot.

First Views
On The Ridge
Back Down The Valley
Sagebrush Meadow
Below Saddle
Looking Back
Towards Trailhead
Pioneer Mountains
Duncan Ridge
Ridge & Meadows
Inside Cabin
Cobb Peak
Pioneer Cabin
Cabin View
Blue & White Sky
More Peaks & Meadows
Old Hyndman & Cobb
Last Look From Saddle
Trail Across Sage
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008