Elevation: 7,780 ft
This peak is not in the book.
Squirrel Mountain is located on the southeast side of the Big Hole Mountains in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The summit sits just barely off of the boundary of Teton County and Bonneville County on the Teton County side.
The summit is not particularly distinct and you could easily walk by it or convince yourself that it is a different high point several yards away. However, it is the location shown in the photo.
We climbed Peak 7834, Peak 7906, and Squirrel Mountain, in that order, as a loop from the east via Drake Creek, as shown in the GPS track below. However, the Grove Creek trail, a little further north of Drake Creek, provides more direct access to Squirrel Mountain if that is your only destination. A good trail map for this area is provided by Henderson Creek Lodge.
Squirrel Mountain From Grove Creek
From Victor, Idaho, travel west on Highway 31 to W 9000 South. Turn north on South 4500 West and continue to Grove Creek Road. Use FS-546, which will become FS-237, to begin your hike.
Ascend the trail westward until you encounter the Big Hole Crest Trail, FS-217, which runs north and south. Here, turn north and follow the trail to its intersection at a saddle with the Corral Crest Trail, FS-076/FS-240.
Here, you will see a false trail that begins an ascent to a hill on the east side of a fence. Avoid this spur and stay on FS-217, which traverses the hill and stays left of the fence. Proceed upwards until you see what appears to be the highest point (shown in the photo). The summit shown in the photo lies east of the fence. There is no cairn or register. These trails are well used and popular.
Our three-peak route, shown in the GPS track below, I don’t fully recommend, but I am providing the information, with tips, to help you plan a better version of this loop.
From Victor, Idaho, travel west on Highway 31 to W 9000 South. Turn on W 9000 South and continue westward until you can travel no farther and park. Use FS-548 and hike westward as it turns into FS-238 until you reach the Big Hole Crest Trail, FS-217. Turn north and follow the trail to the top of the next hill. Here, you will see a short trail to the west that takes you to the cairn for the summit of Peak 7834.
Get back on FS-217 and continue to the north as the trail descends to a saddle where you will reach a junction of the Big Hole Crest Trail (FS-217), which continues north to Squirrel Mountain, with Corral Crest Trail, FS-076/FS-240, which goes west toward Peak 7906.
We proceeded to Peak 7906 first and then to Squirrel Mountain, but instead, I will describe what we should have done and save you from some serious and steep bushwhacking.
Continue on the Big Hole Crest Trail, FS-217, to the summit of Squirrel Mountain, as described in the previous section. Then, drop off the west slope of Squirrel toward Peak 7906 until you reach the base of Squirrel. You should intersect a primitive pack trail (FS-240). Take this trail to the southeast until you reach an intersection, then turn southwest on FS-076/FS-240 (but remember this intersection, as you will return to it after summiting Peak 7906).
Continue southwest as you parallel the peak’s base. As you hike the trail, continue to assess the terrain and vegetation on the peak until you reach the base of a ridge that is fairly clear of vegetation and begin hiking off trail. As you gain elevation, the summit will come into view and you can use it to help you navigate around some densely vegetated and forested sections that are so prominent in these lower elevation peaks.
After summiting Peak 7906, drop back down to FS-076/FS-240 and backtrack (northeast) until you return to the intersection mentioned in the previous paragraph. Now, turn southeast and begin a steep ascent that takes you back to the intersection of the Corral Crest Trail and the Big Hole Crest Trail. Continue back on FS-217 to FS-238 and the Drake Creek trailhead. (Note: It is probably not much shorter, but the three-peak loop can be done from the Grove Creek trailhead.)
There are some good views of the Teton Mountains and the Teton Valley from all three of these peaks.
Squirrel Mountain from Pine Creek Pass (Tom Lopez)
Access this route from ID-31 at Pine Creek Pass. There is a large parking lot on the east side of the highway. A good but unsigned trail leaves the pass on the west side of the highway. This trail connects with other trails that run over to Peak 7800, Peak 7834, and further to Squirrel Mountain.
The actual summit lies just north of the trail. Leave the trail, cross a fence, and top out. The ascent over the two intervening peaks gained 1,397 feet and lost 442 feet in 3.6 miles, one-way. The trail was in good shape the entire distance (7/2017).
USGS Topo: Fourth of July Peak