Forum Index > Trip Reports > Pittsburg Saddle Peaks North (Hells Canyon Recreation Area) 4/20/2020
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RichP
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RichP
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here and there
PostSat May 16, 2020 7:47 am 
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Pittsburg Saddle is where the road from White Bird, Idaho crosses a ridge to drop deep down to Pittsburg Landing at the bottom of Hells Canyon. This is a favored area of rafters to put in and hikers to walk upstream along a trail in early season before heat, poison ivy and rattlesnakes make it less than pleasant.

Pouring over maps, I could see a nice line of connecting peaks on the north and south sides of the saddle. The highest to the north is Camp Howard Ridge at just over 6000.' I love walking canyon rims so off I went.

Parking at Pittsburg Saddle. I saw some bear hunters out on the ridge.
Parking at Pittsburg Saddle. I saw some bear hunters out on the ridge.

Pittsburg Saddle is at 4300' so I though such a high start would make for a nice and easy ridge walk. Wrong! There are many ups and downs and the 5 mile walk out to Camp Howard Ridge has several dives to saddles that drop more than 500' before rising up again.

The first summit is an unnamed 4820' point less than a mile from the saddle. From here I could spy the next summit, Wild Horse Butte.

Headed up to 4820 a few minutes from the Saddle.
Headed up to 4820 a few minutes from the Saddle.
Wild Horse Butte, 5458.'
Wild Horse Butte, 5458.'

I started to find some old traces of trail and it saved me some unnecessary climbing.

Camp Howard Ridge, 6058.' Many ups and downs until I get there.
Camp Howard Ridge, 6058.' Many ups and downs until I get there.
Grave Point Lookout south of Pittsburg Saddle. A road winds around the back side but was still snowbound.
Grave Point Lookout south of Pittsburg Saddle. A road winds around the back side but was still snowbound.
Walking out to Wild Horse Butte.
Walking out to Wild Horse Butte.
Across The Snake.
Across The Snake.
White Bird below.
White Bird below.
The ridge narrows in places but the hiking is easy.
The ridge narrows in places but the hiking is easy.
Big Canyon Saddle. An ATV road comes up here.
Big Canyon Saddle. An ATV road comes up here.
Wild Horse Butte.
Wild Horse Butte.
Looking south.
Looking south.
The narrow ridge walk to Wild Horse Butte.
The narrow ridge walk to Wild Horse Butte.
Old trail on the ridge.
Old trail on the ridge.

The walk out to Wild Horse Butte is a narrow and sometimes scrambly ascent. The views of Hells Canyon are noteworthy as it juts out westwardly from the main ridge.

Camp Howard Ridge summit ahead.
Camp Howard Ridge summit ahead.
I packed out some beer cans left on top. An ATV road comes up from the other side.
I packed out some beer cans left on top. An ATV road comes up from the other side.
Looking back to my ridge walk of 5 miles.
Looking back to my ridge walk of 5 miles.
Ladybug fest.
Ladybug fest.
Wild Horse Butte summit and Seven Devils.
Wild Horse Butte summit and Seven Devils.

After a snack and rounding up some beer cans I retraced my steps back to the car. This time I stayed on the trail which made the walking much easier.

Headed back down.
Headed back down.
Back to 4820 for a second ascent of the day.
Back to 4820 for a second ascent of the day.

I ran into a bear hunter who was out for a few days and we chatted a while before I climbed back over 4820 and down to my car.

10 miles and 4350 of gain.'
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Abert
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PostSat May 16, 2020 9:41 am 
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Good idea!  I've walked the west rim of Hells Canyon from a bit south of Freezeout Saddle to Somers Point.  That almost exactly corresponds to Seven Devils to Pittsburg Saddle on the east side.  I've only been through Pittsburg Saddle and a little north of Heavens Gate (to Bald Mountain), but the rest of those Idaho ridges look more rewarding than the Oregon side, even with the extra up and down.

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neek
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PostSat May 16, 2020 10:55 am 
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Years ago I would have thought that looked boring but now it's the sort of rambling I'd love to be doing.  Very cool.
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cascadetraverser
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PostSun May 17, 2020 8:05 am 
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I remember fondly hiking the Snake River Canyon some years ago and looped high up from there (but not to the top of the endless layers) and ogled the other side (wondering what’s it would be like to hike and then head down).  This really gives me a sense of what that would be like.  So grand and open. Thanks for posting!
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timberghost
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PostTue May 19, 2020 5:33 am 
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Pittsburg Saddle Peaks North (Hells Canyon Recreation Area) 4/20/2020
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