This interesting peak is not in the book. Erik Pohlmann provided the original description of this interesting peak and the route information found immediately below. Erik is an impressive athlete and his routes are strenuous endeavors. I have added additional, less difficult, route with a more direct approach at the bottom of the page as well as additional photos and a map.
Additional Danskin Mountains access information can be found in the book at (D)(1) at pages 154-5 and (G)(1) at page 156. Also see the following website page: Danskin Mountains OHV Trails. Updated October 2019
Long Tom Benchmark sits on the high point of an interesting and massive six mile wide shelf which slowly rises over a couple miles out of the east, and then abruptly terminates into the very rugged west facing Big Bluff.
Views from the summit are quite vast and impressive. It’s fairly centrally located, close enough to the Snake River Plain, and high enough that it provides one of the best vantage points into all of the rolling southern Danskin’s. It also lends 50+ mile views in nearly all directions, so many of the higher and more impressive snow capped mountain ranges are visible which provides a great backdrop. This massive shelf is landlocked pretty well by rugged geographical features and riddled private property. USGS Syrup Creek
Erik’s routes are as follows:
1) From the south via Syrup Creek Road or Immigrant Road. Requires navigating up and over the tall guarding west ridge, then descending down into the deep and steep Long Tom Creek canyon, and then ascending back out of the canyon and up the fun and rugged Big Bluff. Although only 6 miles round-trip, all that up and down amounts to a whopping 5k’ of elevation gain round-trip!
2) From the north via the historic Jeffrey-Goodale Cutoff Oregon Trail#143A (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodale%27s_Cutoff). Enjoy the extremely risky drive or interesting mountain bike ride for 16 miles and 3k’ gain round-trip from Danskin Lookout Road to Cottonwood Springs via Trail#143A, I’ve included the GPS tracks for this trail for clarity. I’ve observed primitive roads ascending out of Emigrant Cove that could be used, but unfortunately said beautiful cove is on private property, so once at Cottonwood Springs due north of Long Tom Benchmark, ditch the bike and hike the obvious rolling and pretty ridge to the summit. The hiking portion of this route only requires 5 miles and 1.5k’ gain round-trip. So total stats is 21 miles and 4.5k’ of gain, round-trip.
Ascending Big Bluff.
Viewed from across Long Tom Canyon.
Another view across Long Tom Canyon.
Big Bluff on the right.
Big Bluff from the west.
Eastern Approach and Northeast Ridge Route.
The eastern approach starts just east of Long Tom Reservoir. From US-20 turn onto the Pony Creek Road, FS-131 [(E)(1) page 155]. Follow this maintained gravel road north for 3.6 miles across a pass and descend into the Pony Creek drainage. There is a wide turn out at this point.
The road leading to the reservoir and toward the peak departs from this spot. The road is unquestionably a 4WD road. It immediately crosses through Pony Creek and then runs east to the north side of the reservoir. The road fords Willowdale Creek and then works it way up the eastern escarpment of Long Tom Benchmark.
The reservoir and the Willowdale Creek bottom are privately owned. There are no fences or signs so it appears that there is a public easement across the private land.
The road is difficult, narrow and has several rock steps that can eat tires. Although not shown on the Forest Service topo, the road continues all the way to the peak’s northeast ridge passing through two fences along the way. Once on the northeast ridge follow it southwest to the summit. The oneway distance from FS-131 to the summit is 5.5 miles with 1,658 feet of gain and 430 feet of loss. Of course, the farther you drive the shorter your hike.
My GPS track from FS-131 to the summit. We drove the first four miles and hiked the remainder.