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Sawtooth Lake (from Iron Creek Trailhead)

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.7 (43) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A beautiful, remote landscape with dramatic views of the Sawtooth Mountains and stunning lake vistas


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Map Key

9.4

Miles

15.2

KM

Out and Back

8,471' 2,582 m

High

6,744' 2,056 m

Low

1,747' 533 m

Up

1,747' 532 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

29%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

The Sawtooth Mountains are best known for their dramatic skyline visible from nearby Stanley, ID. This hike will bring you up close and personal with some of the most dramatic peaks. With a quick side-trip to Alpine Lake and a small pond just before the main attraction (Sawtooth Lake), this route packs an extra punch in the lake department as well (with even more in the surrounding area). Sawtooth Lake is relatively large as alpine lakes tend to run. You'll find it nestled in a bare, rocky bowl at the base of Mt Regan. From the lake, the trail splits off in three different directions. Best to backpack in to soak up all it has to offer, but possible in a long day hike.

Description

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Stanley, head 2 miles west on ID 21 to turnoff for Iron Creek trailhead (FR 619) on the left. Drive 3 mi. to trailhead parking lot.

TRAIL:
Head southwest from the trailhead into the forest. You'll pass a sign indicating the boundary of the Sawtooth Wilderness. Shortly after take a right at the fork in the trail which will lead into a lovely, tree-lined meadow. Circling left around a peak to your right, you'll take a left at the next fork in the trail, bearing south. From here, you'll hike with an up close view along the south side of the dramatic cliffs of Sawtooth Mountain range.

You'll then cross Iron Creek and quickly climb nearly 500 feet in elevation. Stay right at the fork in the trail where a side trail drops to the shores of Alpine Lake. (Or if you have time, take the decline down to the lake where there are a couple camp sites spread around the lake.) From along the upper trail, you'll have great views to the left of Alpine Lake with a mountain peak backdrop. As you climb, you'll have views back to the right of the jagged Sawtooths.

Once you near the top, you'll pass a pond to your right. Keep straight and you'll run into Sawtooth Lake. You can get a glimpse of the lake upon the approach, or continue on to the left to get a broader view of the entire lake. If you have some time at Sawtooth Lake, scramble up to the top of the rock formation on the northeast corner for sweeping views. You'll find camping spots scattered around this upper plateau.

The trail continues on to other destinations; however, this route turns around at this point and heads back the way you came to the trailhead.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jessie Eby with improvements by Zane Groven

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 43 votes

#161

Overall
  4.7 from 43 votes
5 Star
74%
4 Star
21%
3 Star
5%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Idaho

#161

Overall
222 Views Last Month
34,518 Since May 27, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
47%
18%
34%
0%

Photos

Above Alpine Lake, views of the Sawtooth Mountains looking north.
May 27, 2016 near Idaho City, ID
Sawtooth Lake.
May 27, 2016 near Idaho City, ID
Looking down onto Alpine Lake.
May 27, 2016 near Idaho City, ID
View of Alpine lake on our way up to Sawtooth lake
Jul 31, 2017 near Idaho City, ID
Alpine Lake
Nov 28, 2020 near Idaho City, ID
Resting area about halfway to Alpine Lake overlooking part of the canyon and valley. Shortly after this point it becomes rocky and rigid with more difficulty and incline.
Jul 31, 2017 near Challis, ID

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Check-Ins

Oct 2, 2021
Phoebe Kinzelman
9.4mi — 4h 40m
Jun 3, 2021
Tom O
Only made it to Alpine lake trail. Snow on switchbacks
May 28, 2021
Mike Stevenson
Aug 22, 2020
Marc Corona
Jul 15, 2020
Sandy Oaks
Views at the end were awesome. Very crowded and popular, was funny to see people treating it like a massively hard hike.
Jul 15, 2020
Erin Schiano
Jun 21, 2020
Chaney Swiney
Jun 19, 2020
Thomas Spannuth