Long Tom Benchmark by Erik Pohlmann

Elevation: 5,678 ft
Prominence: 858

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The summit viewed from the northeast ridge.

This 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 an 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 [(D)(1) on Pages 154-155 and (G)(1) on 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 6-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 vast and impressive.  It’s fairly centrally-located, close enough to the Snake River Plain and high enough to provide one of the best vantage points into all of the rolling southern Danskins.  It also offers 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 is riddled with private property. USGS Syrup Creek

Erik’s Routes

1) From the south via Syrup Creek Road or Immigrant Road.  Requires navigating up and over the tall guarding West Ridge, descending down into the deep and steep Long Tom Creek Canyon, and ascending back out of the canyon and up the fun and rugged Big Bluff.  Although only 6 miles round-trip, all of those ups and downs add up to a whopping 5,000 feet 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 3,000 feet of elevation 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 that beautiful cove is on private property. 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 1,500 feet of elevation gain round-trip.  Total trip stats: 21 miles and 4,500 feet of elevation gain round-trip.
Ascending Big Bluff.

Ascending Big Bluff.

Viewed from across Long Tom Canyon.

Long Tom Benchmark as viewed from across Long Tom Canyon.

Another view across Long Tom Canyon.

Another view of Long Tom Benchmark from across Long Tom Canyon.

Big Bluff on the right.

Big Bluff is on the right.

Big Bluff from the west.

Big Bluff as viewed from the west.

East Approach and Northeast Ridge Route

The east approach starts just east of Long Tom Reservoir. From US-20, turn onto Pony Creek Road/Prairie Road/FS-131 [(E)(1) on 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 turnout at this point.

The road leading to the reservoir and toward the peak departs from this spot. The road is undeniably a 4WD road. It immediately fords Pony Creek and then runs west to the north side of the reservoir. The road fords Willowdale Creek and then works it way up the east 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 one-way distance from FS-131 to the summit is 5.5 miles with 1,658 feet of elevation gain and 430 feet of elevation 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.

My GPS track from FS-131 to the summit. We drove the first 4 miles and hiked the remainder.

The summit viewed from the east.

The summit as viewed from the east.

The summit viewed from the northeast ridge.

The summit as viewed from the Northeast Ridge.

Additional Resources

Mountain Range: Boise Mountains

Year Climbed: 2019

Longitude: -115.63729   Latitude: 43.31269

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