Elevation: 7,540 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2023
Peak 7540 is located at the head of Blue Creek on the southwest side of the extensive Morgan Creek drainage in the Eastern Salmon River Mountains. It sits on a ridgeline on the east side of Darling Creek and has no short, easy approach. USGS Blowfly Creek
Same as for Peak 7580. This is the second leg of a 2-peak adventure that includes Peak 7580 and Peak 7540. It covers 9.5 miles with 2,900 feet of elevation gain round trip and begins at the Morgan Creek Recreation Site.
Neither the USGS topo map nor the Salmon National Forest map show many of the drivable roads in the Peak 7580/Peak 7540 area. BLM has opened up a lot of old roads here and they are useful to hikers.
Southeast Ridge, Class 2
From the 7,055-foot connecting saddle with Peak 7580 (which has an unsigned road junction), continue northwest along the 2-track ridge road to reach a second saddle (and another unsigned road junction) at 7,220 feet. From this saddle, leave the road and bushwhack west up through a thick forest of mountain mahogany to reach the semi-open ridge crest. Head right/north and stay below the mahogany-studded ridge crest to reach the easier, more-open high point of Peak 7540. The summit has a decent cairn.
East Face/Northeast Shoulder, Class 2
From the summit, descend east-northeast through an easy pine forest to reach the ridge road. From here, you have two options. Either follow the ridge road left/north to find a junction with another 2-track road (not shown on maps) that heads east then over to Point 7053 (as I later discovered) or bushwhack northeast through open, but somewhat-thick, sagebrush to reach a saddle just west of Point 7053 as I did. Once at the saddle, follow a 2-track road up over Point 7053. It descends north down the ridge until it just ends at the start of a forest of mountain mahogany on the ridge.
Skirt to the right/east of the thick forest and descend a steep-ishshoulder northeast to a dry drainage. This side drainage heads north to the Blue Creek drainage. Pick up a good horse trail on the left/west side of the narrow side drainage and follow it down to Blue Creek. Stay on this decent, but narrow, trail as it follows the right/south side of the very thick Blue Creek drainage. The creek bends left-ish/northeast and the horse trail continues for quite a ways. The trail eventually moves to the left/northwest side of the creek in a marshy area and becomes hard to follow.
The sagebrush on the left side of Blue Creek isn’t too bad even if you temporarily lose the narrow trail, as I did on a few occasions. Stay on the left/northwest side of the creek and pick up a decent horse trail lower down. Blue Creek has much more flow now. As you approach the final ridge hump on the north ridge of Peak 7580 (to the right of the creek drainage), cross to the right/southeast side of Blue Creek and follow a good cattle/horse trail that heads up the dry gully just south of that ridge hump. The trail reaches the crest of the north ridge about 110 feet above Blue Creek. This side diversion avoids the very thick bushes/trees at the mouth of Blue Creek and the potential difficulty of skirting the south side of Morgan Creek to return to the recreation site.
Once across the north ridge, head east down an easy scrub shoulder. Cross a minor gully and contour onto a final scrub shoulder to drop to the 2-track road at the cattle guard crossing just southwest of the bridge crossing of Morgan Creek. Hike northeast along the road to return to the Morgan Creek Recreation Site and your parked vehicle.