Elevation: 6,992 ft
This peak is not in the book. Margo Mandella provided the initial entry for this peak. Livingston Douglas provided two new routes and photos. Updated January 2023
South Face and Northeast Ridge Routes by Margo Mandella
Peak 6992 sits 4.25 miles southeast of South Putnam Peak in the Portneuf Range within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The peak is surrounded by other unnamed peaks such as Peak 7232, Peak 6939, and Peak 7058. Of the possible combinations, Peak 6992 is most easily combined with Peak 7232 for a loop hike. Peak 6992’s low elevation makes for a good early-season training hike. The abundance of trails in the Topance Canyon area makes it popular with hikers, trail runners, bikers and hunters. USGS Bear Camp Gulch
Access the south approach for this peak by travelling to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. East of the city turn, turn left/north on north Highway 30, which heads toward Chesterfield Reservoir. Turn north on Kelly Topance Road and continue north to the intersection of Kelly Topance Road and Maggies Road. Turn left/west on Maggies Road and continue to Topance Canyon Road. Take this road past the Hornet Springs area and continue toward South Fork Topance Creek which, in 2017, was signed. We climbed this peak on May 14, the day before the gate opened, so we parked near the gate. If the road is open, continue until right before the road crosses the creek and park. A high-clearance vehicle was not necessary when we were there.
South Face, Class 2
If you start at the gate, hike along the road for a short stretch until you see a big meadow to the west. The road crosses the creek on a bridge just past this meadow. Continue toward the meadow until you see the South Topance Trail/FST-220, which parallels the south side of the creek, and follow it. You can see Peak 6992 from this location.
The trail is well used, though you may lose it briefly along wetter sections of the trail. FST-220 crosses the creek in a large meadow area where several trails intersect. After you cross the creek, head straight up the short, steep South Face of the peak. It’s a quick climb to the top. You are rewarded with nice views of the upper end of the Portneuf Range.
To descend, retrace your steps to FST-220. Or consider taking the Northeast Ridge to where it connects with the trail that goes into Dry Gulch. Then take this trail back to the Topance Canyon Road and your vehicle.
Northeast Ridge, Class 2
The peak’s Northeast Ridge is another approach from Toponce Canyon Road if you do not want to use the trail. While doable, I don’t recommend this as an approach for a couple of reasons. There’s a lot of vegetation to bushwhack in this area. We also saw bear sign on the Dry Gulch trail (see Loop Option). Generally, it’s easier to avoid a bear if you see it on a descent rather than finding it/surprising it on a bushwhack ascent.
Climb Peak 6992 and Peak 7232 by using the ascent for Peak 6992. At the summit of Peak 6992, you can see the summit of Peak 7232. Cross-country hike NNW then NE to reach the summit of Peak 7232. Either backtrack to the Dry Gulch Trail to descend or, as we did, use the Southeast Ridge descent route for Peak 7232.
North Face/Northwest Ridge and North Face Routes by Livingston Douglas
From the [signed] junction of Toponce Canyon Road/FSR-375 and FSR-208 (6,035 feet).
North Face/Northwest Ridge, Class 2
From FSR-208 between Peak 6992 and Peak 7232 to its north, leave FSR-208 at an unsigned junction at 6,500 feet. Hike southwest up an old 2-track road briefly to its end at a dispersed campsite. From the campsite, bushwhack south up through a thick mix of pine forest and underbrush to reach open, thick scrub. Bash your way right/southwest to reach the crest of the northwest ridge. Scramble southeast up the scrub-covered ridge to the summit. The ridge terrain is thick scrub lower down but becomes easy, short scrub higher up. The summit is in open terrain and has a large cairn on top. From the summit, you have a bird’s-eye view of the northeast ridge. It is a thick mess of aspens and brush and should be avoided. The bushwhack would be difficult, particularly up near the summit.
North Face, Class 2
From the summit, descend the northwest ridge (briefly) in open scrub then leave the ridge. Descend north down through thick scrub then forest to reach FSR-208 with the most direct line possible (to minimize the amount of time spent bushwhacking). The pine forest and open scrub areas in this descent are a miserable bushwhack. Ironically, the aspen forest (midway down) has less brush and blowdown and goes much better. Once on FSR-208, follow it for 2.0 miles back to the road junction and your parked vehicle.