Climb up Mother Nature’s Stairmaster high above Sun Valley, Idaho. This arduous ascent travels straight up the southern ridge up to the peak locally known as “Big Mama”, in the Smoky Mountains. Those seeking a challenge will likely appreciate the effort the Stairmaster Hike demands.
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Route Description for Stairmaster Hike
The Stairmaster Hike is an adventure like no other in the Sawtooth National Forest. This hidden gem is a favorite amongst Idahoans, so we thought we would take this opportunity to introduce it to our favorite group of adventurers—we know you can handle it. This trek demands some preparation in anticipation of the rigors you will face. A comfy pair of footwear with good traction is absolutely necessary—in addition to a copious amount of water!
On top of the steep grade, the terrain is exposed, warranting extreme conditions, so afternoon hikes are best avoided in the summer months to not succumb to heat exhaustion. This is an ‘unofficial’ trail, so it is not marked, though the path is well-worn and easy to follow! Note the southern slope of the mountain is closed in the winter to allow for elk grazing.
Though we try our best to prepare you for what the Stairmaster Hike entails, there is only so much we can relay. So, perhaps the best way to describe this adventure is as a continuous stairmaster—maybe that’s where the name comes from…While this calf-burning ascent is tireless, it rewards its conquerors with 360-degree panoramas of Sun Valley and the Rocky Mountains. So, if you are an early riser, head out in the morning and enjoy a breathtaking sunrise from the summit.
Boasting a great opportunity to condition for your next big mountain trek, this incredible route is often abundant, with ambitious runners and hikers training and testing their limits. While this trail provides an unrivaled workout, we especially enjoy the display of wildflowers that graciously adorn the grassy mountainside. If you are an experienced hiker or climber, then we cannot recommend this journey into the mountains enough, so the next time you find yourself in sun valley, try out the Stairmaster.
With an abundance of water in tow, your journey on the Stairmaster Hike begins from the parking lot off Warm Springs Road. Setting out from here, you have a steep ascent up to the ridge. Tracking southwest, you will climb up through the grasslands up the rocky path—so mind your footing on loose scree. After the initial heart-pumping climb, you will reach the ridge. Beyond this point, you have a straight shot up to the summit.
Trekking through bunches of arrowleaf balsamroot and communities of sagebrush and bitterbrush, the leg-burning climb will begin to unfold awe-inspiring vistas. As you rehydrate and rest, take the time to admire the grandeur of the mountain above you and the majesty of Sun Valley below. Named for their propensity to wildfires, it will become evident that the surrounding lush mountains are titled the Smoky Mountains.
You will be granted spellbinding panoramas of the mountainous landscape following your laborious conquest. Notice Bald Mountain across the valley in the south, Griffin Butte in the north, the city below, and the hundreds of other impressive summits that line the horizon. Snap a few photos of the breathtaking scenery, then carefully and slowly make your way back down the mountainside.
Bald Mountain is a prominent summit in the Smoky Mountains of the Rocky Mountain Range. Standing at an elevation of 2,789 m, this impressive peak's northern face parallels what the locals dub "Big Mama Mountain." This mountain is an adventurer's paradise, offering sweeping views of the mountainous landscape and countless recreational activities. The Sun Valley Ski Resort occupies the north and eastern flanks in the winter months, with skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.
Insider Hints for Stairmaster Hike
- Pack yourself a treat to enjoy at the summit
- Head out before dawn to watch the sunrise
- Wear SPF, the path is entirely exposed
- Pack plenty of water, so much water—trust us
- The southern slope of the mountain is closed in the winter to allow for elk grazing
- Use the trail GPS if you are worried about getting off-track
Getting to the Stairmaster Hike Trailhead
The Stairmaster Hike departs from the parking lot off Warm Springs Road.
Stairmaster Hike Elevation Graph
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Stairmaster Hike Reviews
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