Place Name: Owyhee County
Place Description: State: Idaho
Elevation: 8,403 Feet
Prominence: 3,123 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,887 Feet
Lists: Great Basin Peaks List, Idaho County HP.
Owyhee Mountains High Point
From the city of Boise, the Owyhee Mountains rise up to the south and create a nice back drop. While most people that enter the Owyhees are probably going to visit Silver City, summitting Hayden Peak is also a great day of work. With a road that can be driven or walked to the summit, it’s not a difficult peak to bag and there are two more easy bonus peaks to add on!
- Good access road
- Long range views
- Two bonus peaks
- OHV traffic
- Would be hot in summer
- Comms towers on summits
When you think of Idaho, you think of deep green forests, emerald lakes and snow-capped craggy peaks. However, the southern part of Idaho lies in the Great Basin. The main range, south of Boise are the Owyhee Mountains, anchored by Hayden Peak at 8,403 feet.
Although there are no emerald lakes and it feels more like hiking in Nevada, this is a region worth exploring.
From Boise, heading south on ID-79 through the small town of Murphy will lead you to the turnoff for Silver City.
Silver City is kind of a living ghost town. It’s inhabited through the summer month and even has a couple of stores in their historic buildings. There are even a couple of beautiful creeks running through town.
To arrive at Hayden Peak, you will turn off a couple of miles before Silver City and head towards Fairview Cemetery. This turnoff is about 19 miles from Highway 79 on pavement and then hood dirt road.
The next phase of the road actually drives all the way to the summit of Hayden Peak, making the hike mostly a road walk from wherever you feel comfortable. We parked just before War Eagle Mountain and started our hike there. The road is passable to any type of 4×4 to the summit. There are a couple of rocky spots and narrow spots, however, I didn’t see anything that would prevent a stock 4×4 from summiting.
With a lower start, near Stumpy Hill on the topo map, it was about 5 miles to the summit.
On the way up, hiking the road was easiest as it passed a large plateau after War Eagle Mountain and then dipped downhill for a bit navigating around Turntable Mountain.
At the saddle with Hayden, the road steeply climbs to a switchback just below the summit.
Standing on top of Owyhee County on a peak with 3,000 feet of prominence, the views are wonderful. There is a lot of back country and one can see into 3 states at once.
There is a fenced communication rig on top of the mountain which kind of blows, however, don’t let that deter you from enjoying this peak. There are some cool cliff bands that make up the north side of the peak and add to the views.
The best part of this hike is the easy opportunity to bag two ranked bonus peaks.
Turntable Mountain is closest to Hayden and shares a saddle. Follow the ridge line right up to the summit skirting between the mahogany on the left and pine forest on the right. It’s a perfect line right to the top.
Descending takes right over the summit and reconnecting to the road, shaving a bit of distance off.
War Eagle Mountain
With a cool name like that it’s just waiting to be bagged.
There is a road right to the top and large array of communication towers and buildings. It’s still worth the extra 1/4 mile effort to tag this one.
The Final Word
What else can I say? Three peaks and an old historic mining town. Makes for a great day.
I’d you decide to drive it, another bonus peak option would be South Mountain which you can see from the summit.
The Silver City Road eventually leads into Jordan Valley, Oregon making for a bit of shortcut back to US-95.
If you are in Boise, check out the Owyhee Mountains. They are a wonderful place to explore!