Parker-Bear Gulch (#122): From either side, this is a steep (13% grade) single-track trail that climbs to the SW saddle of Johnstone Peak. It is one of the few trails open to motorized use in the Pioneer Mountains. The Parker to Bear mountain bike ride is a granny gear grind, one of the steepest and most consistent climbs in the valley. Information for the Parker Gulch trailhead is given below:
Parker Gulch: Parker Gulch was one of the epicenters of mining in the 1880s and many old roads crisscross the steep hillsides between tailings piles. Isaac Lewis, who also founded the town of Ketchum, owned the Elkhorn Mine at the mouth of Keystone Gulch. Other notable claims up Parker Gulch were the Amicus, Parker, and Montgomery Mines. The road passes through several parcels of private property so please respect the landowners. The Parker Gulch trail climbs to the SW saddle of Johnstone Peak and connects to Bear Gulch. The drainage faces west and tends to be hotter, drier, and dustier than Bear Gulch, but the Parker trailhead is closer to town and more convenient to access. About half of the trail crosses open sage and grass and the other half crosses through shady forest. It is a straight forward climb through four long switchbacks to the saddle so a detailed description is not included. Mountain bikers will find Parker to be a grueling 13% grade with a steeper crux to the saddle. The trail tends to be somewhat looser than the Bear Gulch side. From the saddle at pt. 8620 it is a straight forward off-trail scramble to the summit of Johnstone Peak (1,325 feet) with stunning panoramic views of the high peaks of the Pioneer Crest. The trail is open to motorcycle use.
Directions: Drive south on Hwy 75 from Ketchum to the Elkhorn Road stoplight (1.4 mi). Turn left and follow Elkhorn to Morningstar Road (2 mi). Turn right and follow Morningstar to Parker Gulch Road (.7 mi). Drive out Parker Gulch on dirt to the trailhead (2.2 mi).
*For more detailed descriptions, topo maps, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers of the Wood River Valley pick up a copy of Exploring Sun Valley online or find it at one of several local shops.