Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

South Fork Salmon River Trail to Pilot Peak Lookout

easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(5)
Payette National Forest

South Fork Salmon River Trail to Pilot Peak Lookout is a 65.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Warren, Idaho that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 65.5 miles Elevation Gain: 12,326 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

nature trips

scenic driving

bird watching

ohv / off road driving


wild flowers


ATV ride from Warren, Idaho to the Pilot Peak Lookout. Much of the ride is along the scenic South Fork of the Salmon River. This ATV/OHV/High Clearance Vehicle trip starts in Warren, Idaho. Warren is 52 miles from McCall, Idaho and the last 16 miles are on a crowned dirt road. There are no fuel, water, or food services available on this trip. Bring everything you need with you. There is also no cell phone service. The round trip from Warren is about 65 miles. At Warren Summit you will travel downhill to the South Fork of the Salmon River and then parallel the South Fork for about 6 miles. Leaving the South Fork, you will follow Elk Creek east for about 11 miles to the Pilot Peak Lookout Road. At the South Fork the elevation will be about 3000 feet and over 8000 feet at Pilot Peak. This whole area is very scenic back country. The Pilot Peak Road borders the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness and there are pull outs along the road for viewing and photographs. There are several primitive tent camping spots along both the Elk Creek and Pilot Peak roads. Be sure to check on fire and road info before heading out!

horseback riding
Wed Oct 05 2016

Dad took me and the other kids here in the early 90's. I don't think we started at Warren, though... We took a boat down the river and a raft for part. Then we rode up on horseback. I remember shooting his .44 magnum when we got to the lookout. I also recall fishing (quite successfully!) at a decent sized lake somewhere out here. I was too young to be able to tell you where, though! I'd love to retrace these steps someday! I think anyone would have considered my dad a real mountain man out here at some point (he was a hunting guide around 1970).

ohv/off road driving
Wed Sep 07 2016

This trail is not accessible anytime until July at the earliest due to annual snowfall and snowpack.

Tue Dec 31 2013

Stumbled across your Warren write up. Wow! I see your other guides, some places of which I've been too, and others I intend too. Great posts. In regards to one of the hunters you ran into, several years ago my father-in-law traveled on the trail from the Hettinger Ranch into the Frank. He almost lost a mule when the pack hit the side and pushed the mule over...almost. Luckily, the mule saved itself. Father-in-law took a different way out and will never ride that trail again. Thanks for your detail and efforts here and your other guides! Great Stuff.

Sun Oct 07 2012

wizonkiz, As you know, I am a fair weather rider. Maybe we will have decent weather for next year. It would really be nice to have a smoke free ride. Most of the photos and videos in the guide are hazy due to the forest fires smoke. Thanks for the kind words.

Sat Oct 06 2012

Ed, great review, too bad I didn't see it before we made the trip a couple years ago, we missed so much stuff we didn't know about until seeing this, maybe next year!!! Sorry we missed seeing you this fall, we were a few days late I quess...Wiz