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White Bird Hill Rd s(u)

US95 manages to follow along the bottom of the Salmon River Canyon for many spectacular miles. But then,  about 20 miles south of Grangeville, the canyon becomes too narrow, and the road is forced on a detour over the Clearwater mountains.

The road leaves behind the scenic river and crosses this big grassy ridge, heading as straight as possible for Grangeville. The result is White Bird Hill. There are two of them, this one and an "Old White Bird Hill" route. The latter is a much more attractiive route, especially on a bicycle.

Both of these routes encircle a historic battle field, the first first battle between the Nez Perce Indians and the US army. The name White Bird derives from and Indian name in that context.

1.(00.0m,3480ft)START-END NORTH: jct Lake Rd - US95
3.(03.4m,4130ft)Old White Bird Hill Rd joins from left
4.(04.5m,3840ft)Old white Bird Hill Rd diverts again at Poe Saddle
5.(12.5m,1650ft)START-END SOUTH: low point along Salmon River on US95


From North. (described upwards) Grangeville looks like it lies on a vast plain. But in reality it is really a high and wide valley. The resulting climb is much smaller and less attractive than the other side. There is hardly anything to it, just a straight road through the forest, a small bend in the road, and a noticeable incline.

From South. (also described upwards) The road climbs a small amount above the Salmon River and after a small descent, crosses White Bird Creek on a bridge, high enough to give a bird's view of the town White Bird. In order to get there and its small grocery store you have to detour onto Old US95.

The rest of the climb is quickly described: a single straight, uniform cut, traversing up he hillside. The views are great, the road is boring. Supermarket parking lot sized turnouts lead to small signs, containing 2 or 3 sentences with interesting facts, or simply designed to provoke interest in the area. One of these is a strategic vantage point onto the White Bird battlefield and the various positions held by Indians and soldiers.

The Old White Bird Hill road merges onto today's US95 a few hundred feet below the summit, but then leaves it again to climb to a higher point. Immediately before the summit of the new road, another large parking lot, lined with flagstones, invites to what is probably the most panoramic view along the new road. Shortly after that the road summits in the forest with a sign saying 4245ft. But according to my gps, the summit is clearly a little higher.

A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit is on page: Banner Ridge Rd s(u)

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Historical Notes:

The Highway: This road grade replaced the Old White Bird Hill Grade as recently as 1975. For more see the Old White Bird Hill s(u) page.