Nestled in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the Pinyon Peak Loop, also known as Beaver Loon Creek, is a remote and intense journey with breathtaking vistas of nearby peaks. This rugged drive is a gateway to the grandeur of the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness with alpine meadows and the imposing granite slopes of the Salmon River Mountains.
Coursing exhilarating mountain ridges, the trail offers glimpses of mountain basins far below. The pinnacle of the adventure is 9,942-foot Pinyon Peak. At the summit rests a historic fire lookout, a perfect vantage point for the endless panorama where mountains seem to fade infinitely into the distance.
Heading southward leads to the wilderness's most untamed and formidable peaks. Painted with striking red and white hues, they soar over 10,000 feet above numerous alpine lakes. In contrast, the northern landscape widens with open arms as it drops away to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Eastward, the vigilant guardians of Sheep Mountain and Greyhound Mountain watch over the Rapid River. Westward is a rare view of Idaho's wild expanse, with Loon Creek nestled along the base of Pinyon Peak.
Descending via eight sharp hairpin turns from Pinyon Peak, the terrain transforms into the embrace of Loon Creek, a significant tributary of the Middle Fork. Diamond D Ranch sits nestled beneath the jagged peaks of the upper section of trail.
Leaving behind Loon Creek, the road traces along Mayfield Creek, ascending towards the summit above Jordan Creek, where all these waters converge into the Main Salmon River. The journey culminates in a beautiful descent to Yankee Fork via Jordan Creek. Along this final stretch, traces of mining history line weave an intricate tapestry of the past.
For history enthusiasts, this expedition unfurls a rich narrative of lookouts, mining remnants, and an abundance of hiking trails that beckon the intrepid backpacker. And throughout the entire journey, the breathtaking scenery remains a constant companion.
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