Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike

Pioneer Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike

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  • Bridge over the North Fork of Hyndman Creek right next to the trailhead.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The lower portions of the Hyndman Creek Trail traverse through abundant aspen groves.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The trail is also a popular horseback riding destination.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) is one of many mid-summer wildflowers found along the trail.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Mountain bikers also enjoy the lower reaches of the Hyndman Basin Trail.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Though the good riding ends after 2.3 miles, a mountain bike is a great tool to "shorten" the access and egress to and from the high alpine basin above.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • A fall ride to enjoy the colors is also a great idea.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Stunning fall colors on the flanks of Cobb Peak at the juncion of Big Basin/Hyndman Basin. Jacqueline Peak (center, 11,027') and McIntyre Peak (left, 11,210') tower above.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The aspens fade higher up the basin, but pockets of color in the fall are a beautiful highlight to the alpine landscape.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Fall leaf detail.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Slab falls cascading from the lip of the upper alpine basin.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • After about 3 miles, the trail climbs up steep steps over 1,200 feet to access the upper glaciated basin. The trail passes by this playful slab falls that cascades over sedimentary quarzite for the final climb into the upper basin.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The steep, sandy trail climbs through a decomposing quartzite at the lip of the alpine basin.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The calm, meandering Hyndman Creek just above the falls. Hyndman Peak towers in the background.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The high peaks of the Pioneers are composed of several distinct layers of meta-sedimentary rock. Some is crumbly, while other layers of sold quartzite form imposing vertical walls.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The basin was extensively glaciated as evidenced by the broad U-shaped canyon and polished bedrock. The north face of Cobb Peak towers in the background of this image.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • A few small ponds dot the upper basin. The south ridge of Hyndman Peak dominates the skyline in this photo.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Explorers gentian (Gentiana calycosa) is one of several species of alpine wildflowers that can blanket the upper basin in August.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • It's a long and gradual climb to the top end of Hyndman Basin.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Folded rocks are evidence of the tremendous tectonic forces involved in the formation of the Pioneer Mountains.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Different layers of exposed rock include a metamorphosed gneiss.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Interesting layers of green and blue in this sample of Pioneer Mountain geology.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • More glacial polish.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The imposing west face of Old Hyndman Peak.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Detail of the Class 5 scramble that accesses the ridge from Cobb to Old Hyndman. Though the climbing is easy 5.4 to 5.5, it is still a committing free-solo scramble.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The view from the divide with Wildhorse Canyon at the top of Hyndman Basin is incredible. Arrowhead Lake can just be seen tucked into an alpine cirque in the center right of the photos.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • Looking down the long and impressive glaciated Wildhorse Canyon.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The imposing north walls dropping from Old Hyndman Peak fall more than 2,000 vertical feet to the talus in Wildhorse Canyon below.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
  • The easiest route to the summit of Hyndman Peak follows the east ridge up a jumble of loose talus along the precipitous north face.- Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Stunning alpine basin. Wildflowers. Good return options. Views from the saddle.
Cons: 
Light crowds. Long drive to trailhead. Trail faint in the upper basin.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,768.00 ft (1,148.49 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
11.20 mi (18.02 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,180.00 ft (2,188.46 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The hike up Hyndman Creek and eventually into Hyndman basin is one of the most popular on the west side of the Pioneers, and for good reason. The first section of the hike follows an old mining road through aspen groves and wildflower meadows to a major fork in the canyon at the base of the massive southwest face of Cobb Peak. It is a pleasant walk or mountain bike ride with plenty of fine views and ample summer flowers.

Hikers with the time and energy can continue upward into the spectacular glacial basin between Duncan Ridge and Cobb Peak. Sheer walls of ancient meta-sedimentary rock flank the rolling steps that lead to the saddle above Wildhorse Canyon. Mid-summer alpine wildflowers add a wash of color to the stunning alpine scenery, and the views from the divide into Wildhorse Canyon are hard to beat anywhere in Idaho.

From the trailhead, drop down to cross the North Fork of Hyndman Creek on a pretty log bridge. The trail follows an old mining road through a sloping meadow of wildflowers and scattered aspens. You will cross two small springs that can make the trail quite boggy, then you will proceed through several patches of dense pine and fir forest. After emerging into a large meadow around 7,800 feet there is an unmarked junction where the “road” turns right to climb into Big Basin (the other branch of Hyndman Creek).

From here the trail crosses a creek (this is a good place to stash your mountain bikes) and climbs up a steep, blunt ridge to a meadow at 8,200 feet. Look for some large quartzite boulders that mark a faint junction. The more pronounced trail continues across the meadow to Hyndman Creek and climbs steeply up a sage-covered face. An alternate route heads up the aspen-filled drainage to the west and offers a more gradual climb to the lake at 8,724 feet.

The Pioneer Yurt (operated in the winter by Sun Valley Trekking) is tucked into the trees just beyond the lake. The trail crosses the stream that drains the Hyndman/Duncan basin and eventually up sandy ramp above a cascading waterfall to the lip of the Hyndman Basin.

Beyond here the trail is initially faint, but hikers will be able to follow a steady tread past the small lake at 9,800 feet all the way to the divide at the head of the canyon. Be cautious around any remnant cornices on the precipitous leeward side, and enjoy the panoramic views into Wildhorse Canyon.

Mountain Biking

The initial 2.3 miles of trail make a nice, stand-alone mountain bike ride. Beyond about 8,000 feet the trail is steeper than most mortal riders will find reasonable. Using a bike is a great way to access (and quickly exit) the numerous off-trail hikes in the alpine basins above.

Off-Trail Hiking

The relatively solid nature of the underlying geology in the Pioneers creates huge potential for scrambling and peak climbing in the Pioneer Mountains. The most common prize is 12,009-foot Hyndman Peak, which is the tallest in the range. The easiest route is the Class 3 southeast ridge, but it can also be climbed via the west face/south ridge. 

Cobb Peak is a more challenging summit with a Class 4 route up the west ridge and a Class 4 to Class 5 route via the south ridge out of Big Basin. An impressive link-up of Hyndman, Old Hyndman, and Cobb covers an impressive amount of ridgeline terrain and requires excellent climbing and navigation skills.

Technical Climbing

There are five major units in the meta-sedimentary rocks that make up the Pioneer Mountains. Within the Hyndman Basin it is pretty easy to identify the cleaner, lighter quartzite that is the highest quality rock and holds the most potential for technical climbing. For climbers willing to explore, there is certainly potential in some of the more prominent quartzite walls that flank both sides of the canyon.

Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring Sun Valley - A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer, and Smoky Mountains by Idaho River Publications.

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Published in collaboration with Idaho River Publications

Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks.  Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho.  His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured.  Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure.  Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers.  Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.

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