Elevation: 7,930 ft
Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 86. Updated September 2018
Rhodes Peak is not only one of the nicest peaks in the northern Bitterroot but also a 2,000 foot prominence peak and the high point of Clearwater County. As a result, it sees more ascents than many of its neighboring peaks as county high pointers and prominence baggers seek it out. Access and hiking distances make this a tough ascent. As a bonus you can also bag Blacklead Peak, Williams Peak and Peak 7699 along the way.
Access by Ken Jones
On US Highway 12 in Idaho, find Forest Road (FR) 569 on the north side. This point is roughly 10-15 miles west of Lolo Pass and the Montana border, or roughly 70 miles east of Lowell, ID. It is just east of the turnoff to Powell CG and guard station. Set your odometer (0.0). Follow FR 569, ignoring spurs on both sides, to Papoose Saddle (7.0 miles). Continue straight ahead at the 4-way intersection, onto FR 500 westbound. In approximately 12 miles, at Cayuse Junction, turn right onto FR 581. In just over a mile (21.2 mile point) at a switchback in the valley bottom, you will find a parking area and the start of trail 35. This looks like a good possible route on the map, but we were unable to find its upper end the way we went, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, continue on FR 581 for another 6 1/4 miles to the saddle at 6,715 feet. The road has been suitable for passenger sedans to this point. Turn right and follow the steeper (high-clearance recommended) road up over Blacklead Mountain and down to the saddle on its north ridge (my topo doesn’t show the extension of the road from the summit to the saddle, but it’s there on the ground), about another 1.5 miles. Park here.
Hike and South Ridge, Class 2 by Ken Jones
There are several trails leaving from the parking area. Take the one heading east, which drops into a basin. In about 3/4 mile, there is a junction – keep left, on the trail that generally contours between 6,400 and 6,600 feet for another 1 3/4 miles to Goat Lake. The mapped junction of trail 248 was not found, though we looked. The trail splits at Goat Lake, but the branches come together again soon. At the switchback on the west side of Williams Peak, the trail joins an old mining road. It peters out a bit where it crosses the south ridge of Williams Peak, but occasional cairns will get you to obvious trail where it drops off the ridge to the northeast. At about 5 miles from the parking area, you’ll reach an unmapped trail junction in the saddle just east of point 7038 feet. Bear left and follow the now steeper trail as it climbs to the saddle just south of Rhodes Peak. Easy cross-country travel, some on a use trail, will bring you to the summit and its register. Round-trip statistics: about 12 miles, 3200 feet of gain.
A few photos by Terri Rowe from her September 2018 ascent of Rhodes and Williams.