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Mt. Borah

Very Difficult
 5.0 (4)

Run and climb to Idaho's high point on this brutally majestic trail.

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12,489' 3,807 m


7,412' 2,259 m


5,087' 1,551 m


17' 5 m



Avg Grade (14°)


Max Grade (38°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Views

If you are doing this at any time except late summer, you'll need appropriate climbing gear (ropes, ice axe, crampons).

Need to Know

There are a few fee campsites and a lot of parking at the trail. 2 vaulted toilets.

Warnings: Depending on the snow levels, it is recommended to do this run in late summer. Thin leather gloves are recommended for the scrambling on Chicken-Out Ridge. The rocks are sharp, but beware some hand/footholds are slick.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BYPASS Chicken-Out Ridge by taking the now way-too-established trail that drops on the west side below. Some years, the snow/ice never leaves and makes for a dangerous crossing followed by a steep climb up loose debris.

At 11,500 feet, people don't always make the best decisions on COR. It is recommended that you go with someone experienced. Plan on 7-12 hours roundtrip. Around 7 if you run when you can, closer to 10-12 hours if you hike it in only moderate shape.

This can be a BUSY run with choke points. Avoid going on August Saturdays if you don't like crowds. Absolutely no water anywhere. Most likely snow, though not on the trail in late summe

Runner Notes

You might be able to run some of the first mile but mile 1-2 is going to be hiking. Mile 2 to 3 is runnable mostly and a few sections after COR are runnable until about mile 3.5.

Mile 3.5 - 4 can be dangerous, as rocks can be dislodged. Stay on trail; most loose rocks are gone now. You can run most of this on the downhill, depending on your skill level and how shredded you want your quads to be.


The grand pinnacle in the Lost River Range and Idaho as a whole is Mount Borah, also referred to as Borah Peak. During the 4 miles up this monolith, you'll almost gain a full mile in elevation (5,200 feet). The first mile is about 1,000 feet of elevation gain and a good warm-up for what lays ahead.

Mile 2 is more than double the elevation, at over 2,000 feet of climbing. At about mile 2.2, you are out of the treeline and exposed the rest of the way. Mile 3 starts out fairly flat with a mild incline and then you hit the infamous Chicken-Out Ridge (COR). COR is not to be taken lightly. If people "chicken out," it is usually right at the start or at the end of this 0.25-mile section of scrambling.

If you are afraid of heights, do not attempt COR. Do not attempt to bypass COR by dropping down below it. Custer County Sheriffs department and many trail guides warn that the lower west section is where people get hurt and a few decades ago even died. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, stay on the ridge/spine.

At the end of COR is a Class 4 scramble.There will sometimes be a climbing rope there, but it is still doable without a rope. You drop down onto a knife ridge that in early summer will be covered in snow. This can be very dangerous. There is a flat-ish section after COR, and then the final 0.5 miles is straight up to the summit. Stay on the defined trail.

After COR, you do not spend very much time on the ridge. The summit is amazing and well worth the price of entry. Record your name in the logbook, snag a picture with the summit flag in the white tube, and prepare to thrash your quads as you blaze back to the trailhead.

NOTE: The GPX track I recorded is very accurate, with any variations cleaned up. This is the traditional route. The official Forest Service trail ends at the start of COR, so after that it's the "wild west."

Flora & Fauna

Not much. Rocks are king in the central Idaho Lost River Range. Pine trees and some cover during the first 2 miles.


Shared By:

Jeff Fullmer

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  5.0 from 4 votes


  5.0 from 4 votes
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41 Views Last Month
1,629 Since Sep 3, 2019
Very Difficult



Looking to the east, and the others peaks along the Lost River Range, on the knife ridge after coming down Chicken-Out Ridge
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID
Looking to the SE at the summit. Congrats, you made it!
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID
Looking to the southeast off of the summit.
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID
Around the first mile mark, when the real hiking begins! Did someone way "switchbacks?"
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID
The final stretch, straight up with loose debris. Hope you brought a windbreaker! Plan to grind it out, with tired legs and thin air.
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID
Chicken-Out Ridge and below it is the west section that people try to bypass COR on. Notice the snow/ice and loose debris. Stay on the ridge!
Sep 3, 2019 near Challis, ID



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