Elevation: 8,971 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 8971 is the high point of a minor north-to-south ridge that extends from Meadow Canyon south to the head of Keg Gulch. It is actually a bump, albeit a ranked summit, on the LONG north ridge of Rust Peak (10,759 feet). It does offer superb views of the south aspects of The Incredible Hulk (10,858 feet). Peak 8971 is easily reached via old jeep roads coming up from the Rocky Canyon trailhead. The shortest route is the north ridge/northeast shoulder from the mouth of Meadow Canyon. USGS Diamond Peak
South Ridge, Class 2
Rocky Canyon Road is signed and is located on the west side of ID-28 exactly 11.1 miles north of the north entrance to the Birch Creek Campground and 2.4 miles south of Nicholia Road. Reset your odometer at the road junction with ID-28. At 2.2 miles, go right at an unsigned junction just prior to reaching an antenna installation. At 3.2 miles, go left at an unsigned junction. At 3.4 miles, go right at an unsigned junction. At 4.0 miles, park in a large pullout area on a bench (7,570 feet).
Be sure to have a USGS topo map in order to follow the various jeep roads/tracks necessary to reach the south ridge of Peak 8971. From the parking pullout, hike west for 0.1 mile to a hilltop. Follow a jeep track right/north for 50 yards to an unsigned junction. Go left/west here and descend to the Rocky Canyon trailhead. You must go through a cattle gate on the way. This gate prohibits motorized vehicles. This trailhead is located in a saddle just below the hilltop.
At the [signed] Rocky Canyon trailhead, there is a road junction. Go straight here on an old 2-track road. Do NOT follow the Rocky Canyon Trail. Follow the 2-track road west up a steep hill to reach an “T” junction with FSR-718. Make a note of this unsigned junction because the 2-track road is VERY WEAK here and is easy to miss on your return trip. Go left/southwest on FSR-718 here. The old road bends left-ish to head south and reaches a saddle at 7,770 feet (shown on the USGS topo map).
From the saddle, continue southwest on the old road as it begins to climb up the northeast face of Point 8249. Either follow the road to the top of Point 8249 as it goes west then south OR follow a decent cattle trial straight up the slope to the top of Point 8249. A herd of pronghorn antelope use a trail here and you just might see them. Once atop Point 8249, continue on the jeep road as it drops steeply southwest to a saddle.
This saddle has a couple of road junctions. Follow the jeep road that climbs the steep ridge immediately west of the saddle. This road ascends all the way up to a saddle on a prominent ridge (8,660 feet). You are now at the base of the south ridge. Leave the road here and scramble north-northwest to the summit. You will find a weak 2-track road on the south ridge. Follow it as it ascends the right/east side of the ridge crest then just dies out. Continue north-northwest on the ridge, dropping 45 feet to a minor saddle. Scramble upward from this saddle to reach the summit at the north end of this long (0.8 mile) narrow ridge. The high point is open with scattered trees nearby. It has beautiful views of Bell Mountain, Meadow Peak, the Incredible Hulk, and Rust Peak. The summit has a modest cairn.
East Face, Class 2
Same as for the south ridge
From the summit, descend east diagonally down the east face to intercept a shoulder. Follow the shoulder northeast to reach FSR-716, which crosses the shoulder at 8,140 feet. The upper terrain on the east face is easy open scrub with scattered pines. Pass through a short patch of pine forest to reach the shoulder. The shoulder is steeper and includes loose scree, but there is a game trail here to assist in the descent to the jeep road.
Follow FSR-716 southeast and cross the upper reaches of Keg Gulch. Stay on the road (ignore any cattle trails) as it climbs back to the saddle with the multiple road junctions at the base of Point 8249. Retrace your ascent route back to the Rocky Canyon trailhead and your parked vehicle 0.2 miles away.