Cannon Ball Mountain, 7197, by Mike Hays

Elevation: 7,197 ft
Prominence: 657

The south slopes of Cannon Ball Mountain. Mike Hays Photo

This peak is not in the book. Published April 2018.


Cannon Ball Mountain is located east of the main Seven Devils Mountains crest. At 7,197 feet this peak is either the largest and highest of the Seven Devils foothills or the smallest mountain of the main range.

Cannon Ball Mountain connects to the main Seven Devils divide at the south end of the Heaven’s Gate ridge by a saddle, which gives the peak a prominence of 657 feet. The summit is broad and rounded but falls off steeply in every direction, including drops of roughly 4,000-foot south into the West Fork of the Rapid River and 4,800 feet east to the main fork of the Rapid River. The Bridge Creek basin, which separates the mountain from the main Seven Devils peaks, is a 1,400- to 3,000-foot drop from the summit of Cannon Ball Mountain.

The south slopes of Cannon Ball Mountain. Mike Hays Photo

The south slopes of Cannon Ball Mountain. Mike Hays Photo


Access and Routes

Saddle Camp, Class 1

Take Highway 95 to Riggins, which is 153 miles north of Boise and 118 miles south of Lewiston, Idaho. At the southernmost end of Riggins and south of the Forest Service Riggins Office, look for a large brown recreational sign for Seven Devils and Heavens Gate. This is Forest Service Road (FSR) 517.

Turn west on FSR-517 and follow it about 9.2 miles to FSR-2109. This road is on a hairpin curve and may be gated from mid-fall to early summer. Continue on FSR-2109 for about 6.9 miles to Saddle Camp at the road’s end. Here, find a corral, some good dispersed camping spots, and possibly cows, but not much else. Between FSR-517 and Saddle Camp stay on what appears to be the main road. A couple junctions might be confusing, but if in doubt stay to the right to stay on FSR-517.

From Saddle Camp, head a short distance on a trail to the main ridgeline and hike to the summit. It is just under 1 mile to the summit with about 700 feet in elevation gain.

Windy Gap, Class 2

Another option to the summit is to continue on FSR-517 (i.e., not turning onto FSR-2109) to where the road crosses over the southeast flank of the Heavens Gate mass. This obvious aspect change is about 15 miles up from Highway 95 or about 1 mile east of the Windy Saddle Campground. Here, find plenty of parking and a spectacular view of the Tower Of Babel to the southwest. From here, descend the ridge for an 880-foot drop over 1 mile to Scott Saddle and continue on the main ridge to the summit.

Rapid River, Class 1+

A much more strenuous option is to climb Cannon Ball Mountain from Rapid River Canyon. About 4 miles south of Riggins, turn west off Highway 95 onto Rapid River Road and continue for less than 3 miles to the Rapid River Fish Hatchery and the trailhead. Hike the trail along the Rapid River for less than 1 mile to a fork. Take the right fork and hike up Thorn Gulch, then over the ridge to Blue Gulch. The trail then climbs the south ridge, which is the main east ridge of Cannon Ball Mountain. This trail rises approximately 5,000 feet over 6 miles. Parts of the trail are very faint or even missing so be prepared for some difficult hiking in some very rugged terrain.

Maps show another trail connecting from lower Shingle Creek (just north of the fish hatchery) to Scott Saddle, but no information is given here for that trail, should it even exist. [Editor’s Note: Use the link below to read John Platt’s trip report. The trails in this area are somewhat sketchy as of April 2018.]

John Platt’s GPS track for Mount Sampson and Cannon Ball Mountain.

John Platt’s GPS track for Mount Sampson and Cannon Ball Mountain.

USGS Topo: Heavens Gate

Mountain Range: Seven Devil Mountains

Longitude: -116.46879   Latitude: 45.33129

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