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black Mt. Baird Out and Back

  4.5 ( 2 ) Favorite


9.2 mile 14.9 kilometer loop
62% Runnable


Ascent: 3,934' 1,199 m
Descent: -3,933' -1,199 m
High: 9,900' 3,018 m
Low: 5,967' 1,819 m


Avg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 69% (35°)


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Trail shared by Jeff Fullmer

An extremely steep, leg-burning climb up to Bonneville County's high point with amazing views.

Jeff Fullmer

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Snow will fly as early as October and will stay until late May, early June. Any trail closures or wildfire information will be posted at the trailhead.


An hour outside of Idaho Falls and just north of Palisades Reservoir are several amazing trails. This is one of them. It is not very popular as visitors opt for the far easier destination trails of the Lower & Upper Palisades Lake trails just to the northwest. This trail is difficult but worth the effort.

Need to Know

Have sturdy footwear and strong legs because this will test your limits. An iron lung or two won't hurt either.

Runner Notes

In mid to late summer, do not expect any water sources in this area. You'll not find water until well down into Waterfall Canyon. Only expect to be able to run the first mile or so. After that, it is an intense hike. Have fun burning your wheels on the way down though! Mt. Baird is covered in loose scree/rocks. A solid trail running shoe is highly recommended for traction and to take the abuse of this rugged Idaho peak.


Starting at the! Little Elk Creek Trail, follow the trail up the canyon. This is an EXTREMELY grueling climb. In the early summer, you may find a few creeks to cross. Mid to late summer, the creek beds are dried up. Plan on bringing all the water you'll need for your run with you.

The Little Elk Creek Trail is an easy trail to follow, even in the dark under a headlamp. After constant uphill for over 3 miles you approach the northern section of the canyon, the trail will fork. At this point, you have actually passed Mt. Baird to the east. One trail will turn left to the northwest and the other to the east, toward Mt. Baird. Follow the trail to the east on your right. Once you have the mountain peak in view, there will be a meadow. At this point, the trail to the ridge and to the top of Mt. Baird is sparse, and you'll need to make your own way.

Getting to the northwestern ridge is the best way possible to reach the summit. At some points, you may find yourself on all fours, like the mountain goats that are almost always trotting around on Mt. Baird above you. This mapped trail goes through some minor scramble sections. This section can be avoided by going further along the hill and climbing to the ridge after you pass the rocks, taking a more diagonal/sidehill approach instead of a straight southward climb.

Continue on the ridgeline all the way up to the top of the peak. At one point it will look impossible and you may be tempted to side hill around the south end of the approach. This route takes you to the southern ridge that connects to Elkhorn Peak. This is a beautiful climb as well but a longer one.

Be prepared for some amazing views as you top out with the Grand Tetons to the north, Palisades to the south and the Wind Rivers to the east. Congratulations, you made it to the highest point in all of Bonneville County!

Flora & Fauna

Mountain goats can be seen all over the peaks in this area. Mid to late summer there are no water sources so besides the white kings & queens of the trails, other critters will be scarce. Wildflowers cover the hillsides in early to mid summer. Pine trees dot the lower sections but the peaks and ridges are bare.

History & Background

Mt. Baird is the highest point in all of Bonneville County.

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Jul 26, 2014
Robert Conley
Great views! Hung out on the top for a while. There are fossils up there!! 10.2mi — 3h 44m

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