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Sawtooth Lake (from Iron Creek Trailhead)

  4.7 ( 29 ) Favorite


9.4 mile 15.2 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,747' 533 m
Descent: -1,747' -532 m
High: 8,471' 2,582 m
Low: 6,744' 2,056 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 29% (16°)


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Trail shared by Jessie Morris


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

Jessie Morris

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


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.


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.

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.

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Sep 14, 2019
Stephen Bonner
Beautiful hike. Clear lakes in the Sawtooths, nuff said! Epic 10.5mi — 10h 00m
Aug 30, 2019
Zach Decker
Jul 30, 2019
Luna LU
11.8mi — 5h 12m
Jul 27, 2019
Matt Mitchell
Backpacked up for an overnight. Good trail & relatively easy. Lots of day hikers. 1 idiot camped on the beach & had a campfire! Made him to put it out
Jun 29, 2019
Emilie Kitt
Jun 24, 2019
Emma McVey
Sawtooth lake completely frozen over. Alpine lake is thawed. A surprisingly easy hike...
Nov 3, 2018
Eric Drake
Oct 13, 2018
Justin Colton

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 29 votes


  4.7 from 29 votes
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in Idaho


334 Views Last Month
23,507 Since May 27, 2016



Above Alpine Lake, views of the Sawtooth Mountains looking north.
May 27, 2016 near Idaho City, ID
Looking down onto Alpine Lake.
May 27, 2016 near Idaho City, ID
Sawtooth Lake.
May 27, 2016 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
View of Alpine lake on our way up to Sawtooth lake
Jul 31, 2017 near Idaho City, ID
Trail to Alpine and Sawtooth Lakes.
May 27, 2016 near Challis, ID


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