Elevation: 7,463 ft
Climbing and access information for this peak is on Page 353 of the book. Rick Baugher and Livingston Douglas have provided the updates found below. The book’s USGS quadrangle designation is in error. The correct USGS quad is North Heglar Canyon. Updated November 2018
2007 Update by Rick Baugher
The following trip report and photo was supplied by Rick Baugher. Cedar Creek Peak is a bushwhacker’s delight. This section of the Sawtooth National Forest is managed as a bird sanctuary and there are no maintained trails to assist in gaining this summit. From the 5,500-foot level along North Heglar Canyon Road, just before it became muddy and snowbound, I headed steeply south to gain a north ridgeline of the peak.
Soon the brush battle began, while underfoot all the flavors of icy tread turning to mud could be experienced. Fortunately, this was replaced at a higher elevation by the varied subtleties of rotting snow. Snowshoes, of course, were helpful, but no match for the frequent limestone outcrops and deadfall. By the time I clawed my way to the summit crown, Hardy’s admonition to Laurel came to mind: “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us in.”
After admiring the remains of a surveyor’s target signal, probably of 1958 origin, the admiration changed to the peak’s summit defenses. Any approach to Cedar Creek Peak requires doing battle with the spiny Cerocarpus bush. There would be no easy alternate descent route.
Driving back to I-86, it’s worth stopping in the Yale area at the historic “Parting of the ways.” This is the spot where the Oregon Trail and California Trail split at Raft River. Somehow my five hours of bushwhacking pales next to the thought of taking covered wagons across the continent.
2018 Update by Livingston Douglas
Updates/corrections to the book: There is no longer a road (or trail) going up Spring Canyon to the ridge saddle south of Cedar Creek Peak. FSR-567/Spring Canyon Road does still exist. It is at a signed junction 8.4 miles up North Heglar Canyon Road. However, it only goes for about 1/8 mile and ends. According to the most recent Sawtooth National Forest map, there is no trail or road up Spring Canyon beyond that point.
Even if you can find remnants of an old road/trail heading up to the pass at the top of Spring Canyon, you have a wicked-looking, long (1.5-mile) ridge traverse up the south ridge to the summit. The south ridge of Cedar Creek Peak looks like a rather rough undertaking when viewed from the summit. It has quite a number of ridge points and is rocky, choppy, and narrow in several sections. It will not go quickly and is probably of Class 3 difficulty at a minimum.
Cedar Creek Peak is a rocky summit located at the north end of a LONG ridge that separates North Heglar Canyon from South Heglar Canyon and extends all the way south to Sublett Reservoir. At 7,464 feet, Cedar Creek Peak is the highest point on this ridge. It has two sister summits of lower elevation: Heglar Benchmark (7,400 feet) and Sublett Benchmark (6,821 feet). Of the three summits, Cedar Creek Peak is the rockiest and most difficult summit to reach. Elbow Canyon is the shortest route to the top.
North Spur/Northeast Ridge, Class 2
From the signed junction of North Heglar Canyon Road/FSR-565 and South Heglar Canyon Road/FSR-564 just east of the townsite of Heglar, ID, reset your odometer. Go STRAIGHT onto North Heglar Canyon Road. At 6.4 miles, enter the Sawtooth National Forest and, soon after that, reach a large parking lot with a nearby bathroom facility. Park here (5,525 feet).
The first 1/3 of this route climbs the north spur, which is on private property (you will need permission) just west of the Sawtooth National Forest boundary. Once you reach the flat, open section of the northeast ridge that lies above Elbow Canyon, cross south into National Forest land. From the parking lot just inside the National Forest boundary, bushwhack west up onto the north spur of the northeast ridge. This is a steep, punishing bushwhack. Yes, there is a section of open terrain high up, but you must first get there.
The forested terrain here is a mix of pines, blowdown, and thick brush. Higher up, you’ll be faced with thick desert scrub and some of the densest aspens I’ve ever seen. When you reach the ridge crest, turn left/south and find a decent game/sheep trail on the right/west side of the ridge crest. After about 15 minutes of torture and 300 vertical feet of progress, you reach steeper, but better, terrain just south of Point 5821. It’s mostly steep pine forest here and it goes. After just over 100 vertical feet of uphill, the terrain opens up on the right/west side of the north spur. Even the pine forest on the ridge crest and to the left/east of it isn’t too bad. Your suffering is now over.
Continue to follow a good game/sheep trail on the right/west side of the ridge crest in open scrub all the way to a flat, open ridge area at 6,560 feet. This plateau-like ridge section sits on the north side of Elbow Canyon. It has a elbow-like shape, with the west side of the ridge heading southwest and the east side of the ridge heading southeast. There are lots of sheep trails (and sheep poop) on this slanted plateau of desert scrub. Your goal now is to reach Point 7141, which is the ridge joint that merges the north ridge with the northeast ridge.
To reach Point 7141, follow a sheep trail southwest up the gentle, then steepening, ridge. Mountain mahogany creep into the picture, but the sheep trail skirts around them adroitly. The sheep trail is located just left/south of the ridge crest and is a well-beaten path. A herd of domestic sheep was up here only 1-2 days prior to my climb. Ground boulders and rock start joining the mix, but it’s not too bad. Just keep following the ridge crest southwest then west to the top of Point 7141. This point has two large ground boulders and a nearby fire pit. The terrain is open here and you get a good look at the next section of ridge to your south. You are now on the north ridge.
You cannot see the summit of Cedar Creek Peak from here since it lies farther south on a flattish section of ridge. It is hidden by a false summit. From Point 7141, follow the ridge south using a sheep trail. Drop 40 vertical feet to a minor saddle then climb southward to the base of a rocky outcrop/cliff (the false summit). Go right/west to skirt the base of the north side of this obstacle on a sheep trail. You will emerge in open terrain on a grassy hump on the right/west side of the final section of ridge.
Descend 20 vertical feet on easy, open ridge terrain as you resume your southward trajectory. What lies between you and the summit is a surprising knife-edge of ridge rock. To the left/east of this knife-edge is a sharp drop (20-30 vertical feet) into thick, impenetrable forest. Just to the right/west of this knife-edge is a sheep trail in the angled, rocky terrain. You will probably find yourself doing a mix of the knife-edge proper and the sheep trail. Do whatever suits you best.
After climbing up this narrow section of ridge, you reach the summit area. The summit of Cedar Creek Peak is a ridgeline summit—not very impressive. It had a small, torn-down cairn with small rocks so I built a nice large cairn with good-sized talus. There is some triangulation wood and wiring nearby but no USGS benchmark. The south ridge is an uninviting, choppy, undulating mess when viewed from here. I’ll pass on that potential descent route to North Heglar Canyon.
Northeast Ridge/Elbow Canyon, Class 3
Same as for the west spur/south ridge of Peak 6994
This route is part of a loop route that starts at the mouth of Elbow Canyon, climbs Peak 6994, descends to North Heglar Canyon Road, climbs the north spur/northeast ridge of Cedar Creek Peak, and descends down to the mouth of Elbow Canyon. This is, without a doubt, the shortest descent route from the summit of Cedar Creek Peak. But it does present its challenges.
From the summit, descend back to the 6,560-foot elbow-shaped junction on the flattish ridge area on the north side of Elbow Canyon. For details, please consult the north spur/northeast ridge route description. From this point, follow the ridge southeast on a sheep trail through open terrain then forest. Continue southeast, climbing 55 vertical feet up to a forested ridge hump that sits at the top of the steep ridge that descends to the mouth of Elbow Canyon. The trees here are primarily mountain mahogany.
The terrain suddenly gets very steep on all sides. Side-hilling here is not a good idea, so stay close to the ridge crest. The terrain is loose dirt/scree and the mountain mahogany is thick. Thankfully, at least when I was there, a freshly-laid sheep trail meandered its way down the ridge crest or just on its right/southwest side. There are two Class 3 cliff bands to down climb as you descend this unrelentingly steep ridge. You will be grabbing at tree branches to control your descent at times.
Lower down, you might be on all fours to descend the steep scree down to the mouth of Elbow Canyon. The final 700 vertical feet of drop on the narrow ridge is, most definitely, Class 3 stuff. It was so steep and loose that there was a dead sheep laying at the base of the ridge. It didn’t quite make it back to the road. Shepherds/ranchers were bringing their sheep down to the valley for the season. Don’t take this descent lightly. It is a serious undertaking. When you reach the canyon floor, you will be at, or close to, the mouth of, Elbow Canyon. A short stroll leads you back to your awaiting vehicle.
Mountain Range: Sublett Range
First Ascent Information:
- Other First Ascent: North Spur/Northeast Ridge
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
- Other First Ascent: Northeast Ridge/Elbow Canyon -Descent
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
Longitude: -113.05501 Latitude: 42.44729