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Haystack Mountain - Idaho 19June2020

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Haystack Mountain is one of several SOTA summits near the Magruder Corridor.  This road divides some of the most wild-country in Idaho, the Selway Bitterroot and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness areas.   A trail system FS#26, and a non-system hunter trail is near the summit however it is much shorter to just bushwhack from the road through mostly open forest.  Only a short obstacle of downed trees slows the otherwise easy hike. 

The road is a popular All Terrain Vehicle route in the summer.  Early in Spring while the road is blocked by high elevation snow in Idaho makes this a quiet time with few visitors.  The summit is open as some trees have been cut down.  There are trees available for hanging antenna wires.  These large wilderness areas are under a wildland fire use plan where lightning fires function in a natural role.  This has resulted in a landscape patterned by many different fire intensities, some originating back several decades. 

The area is frequently open for bear hunting in the spring and fall season so dress appropriately to be seen. 

Elevation gain:1700’

Off trail miles:  2.25 miles round trip

Water:  There is water in Ely Creek at the road crossing, but none above this point.       

Bear Pepper Spray:  Highly recommended in all Montana and Idaho summits. 

Maps:  US Forest Service, Bitterroot National Forest, Selway Bitterroot Wilderness

Camping:  a dispersed campground with a vault toilet is located at the Magruder Crossing. 

Directions: South of Darby, MT approximately 4 miles, leave highway #93 and travel up the West Fork Bitterroot Road for approximately 14 miles.  Turn right, west onto the Nez Perce Fork road #468.  Continue up that road for approximately 17 miles to Nez Perce Pass.  Continue over this paved pass traveling down the Deep Creek to the Selway River.  Here a quarter mile side trip up the Selway River ends at the historic Magruder Ranger Station.  Continuing downstream the road follows the narrow canyon of the Selway River to Magruder Crossing in approximately 3.5 miles.

Cross the Selway River and continue approximately 4.25 miles to Ely Creek.  There is small pullout to park here.