#2 Leatherman Peak

leatherman10Leatherman Peak, at 12,228 feet above sea level is the second highest peak in Idaho and the Lost River Range. The peak is located in Salmon-Challis National Forest in Custer County. It is 4.5 mi southeast of Borah Peak, its line parent.

Elevation: 12,228′
Prominence: 1,667′
Mountain range: Lost River Range
Total round trip hike distance: 8 miles
Total elevation gain: ~4200 feet


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Getting there via West Fork Pahsimeroi River: This is the longer but, by far, the more beautiful drive between the two options. From Mackay, Idaho go North on Highway 93 about 23 miles until you reach Doublesprings Pass Road. Turn Right and head northeast. Follow Doublesprings Pass road for approximately 11 miles until you reach an intersection in the road. Turn right (East) on this road that will take you to Horseheaven Pass. Continue on this road for about 14 miles, making sure to steer right at any fork you encounter, until you reach the trailhead.

Camping: There are plenty of beautiful spots to camp at near the West Fork of the Upper Pahsimeroi River. There are several picnic tables in the area as well as a very old outhouse.

Getting there via Sawmill Gulch Road: This provides access from the west side of the range. It is a much shorter drive than via West Fork of the Pahsimeroi, but also less beautiful. From Mackay, Idaho go North on Highway 93 about for approximately 13 miles until you reach Sawmill Gulch Road (FSR 411). Turn right, heading northeast for as long as your vehicle will take you. 4×4 will get your farther. Wherever you park, continue up the 4×4 road to the trailhead.

Camping: Camp at nearby Mackay Reservoir or anywhere along Sawmill Gulch Road.

Best time to hike (Summer): Mid June through Mid-September.

Special Gear Requirements: There are no special gear requirements if you are summiting this peak during the summer climbing season.


Camping on the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi River

Camping on the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi River

On the way to Leatherman Peak trailhead.

On the way to Leatherman Peak trailhead.

Leatherman Peak Trailhead.

Leatherman Peak Trailhead.

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My Leatherman Experience (2015) – Leatherman Peak was my third 12er in the list of nine. Our journey to Leatherman Peak included Brother’s Steve and Mark, friend Mark H. and myself. We set off Friday around noon for the roughly 6 hour drive to the trailhead. Once off the main road, back country journey led us over Doublesprings Pass and Horseheaven Pass.  This peak, by far, has provided the most spectacular drive into the trailhead. Unlike most Idaho 12ers which can easily be accessed via Highway 93, Leatherman Peak trailhead is accessed via the West Fork of the Upper Pahsimeroi River. This is one of the most beautiful valleys I have driven through. Although it’s a long trek to the trailhead, it’s well worth it. For this trip, we were lucky that Idaho had been experiencing a relatively easy fire season, as we enjoyed pristine blue skies the entire trip.

We arrived at the trailhead and enjoyed a beautiful evening near the campfire and the east fork of the Pahsimeroi River. A bit of conversation quickly gave way to tired eyes and a hankering for a soft pillow and a warm blanket. We awoke early Saturday morning and began our trek toward the top. The first 2 1/2 miles provided a nice warm up as the terrain was not too steep and the trees provided shade from the sun.   An opening in the trees revealed a glimpse of what lie ahead. That’s Leatherman Peak off in the distance. As we approached the base of the mighty mountain, we soon realized what we were in for! A straight up hike from here on out.  We made our way up the steep, rocky slope and soon reached the crest of the mountain.  We were almost there.  We turned right and began the last steep climb to the summit. Finally, we made it!  The view was beautiful! After a quick rest, some sweet eats, and plenty of photos, we reversed course and headed down.   As we left the rocky tundra, we turned to take a final look back on the mountain we had just conquered. We spend another night camping, resting our weary bodies. After a great night’s sleep, we packed camp and headed back to civilization. Driving out we had excellent views of Mt. Borah and much of the Lost River Range.


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