Go Hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains for a Quieter Rocky Mountain Experience

Go Hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains for a Quieter Rocky Mountain Experience

The Sawtooth Mountains run through Idaho and are a destination for those who love hiking, the west, and dazzling mountain views. The area is wonderful for camping, hiking or exploring by car. You'll love these four hikes and one camping trip.

Fishhook Creek

This hike is a moderate, 5-mile, out and back ramble that takes you to a fabulous view of the Sawtooth Mountains. The trail itself is often wide, usually gentle and smooth, and doesn’t punish you with elevation gain (a total of 300 feet). To get there, you’ll need to drive to Redfish Lake, just outside the hamlet of Stanley, and park at the Redfish trailhead. You’ll hike north on Trail 186 into aspen groves over the first quarter of a mile. You’ll come to a couple of turnoffs, including one to Marshall Lake, but continue straight until you reach the meadow and view at the end of this lovely hike.

Stanley Lake Trail and Lady Face Falls

If you love a waterfall destination, do not miss this hike. The reasonable distance (5 miles) and elevation gain (250 feet) are just two reasons to choose this trail. You’ll wind your way through stunning meadows and a view of far-off McGown peak. You can stop at Stanley Lake or continue to the falls. You’ll begin at the Stanley Lake trailhead. This is one of the best hikes in the Sawtooth Mountains that combines views, water and a gentle out-and-back hike.

Titus Lake & Galena Summit

This hike takes you to a sparkling lake in 3.3 miles of open country. The best part about this destination is the fabulous aquamarine color of Titus Lake, which is perfect for a refreshing swim. 

With only 650 feet of elevation gain, this hike is more strenuous than it seems on paper. You’ll begin at Titus Lake trailhead between Stanley and Sun Valley. The trailhead begins at 8,000 feet. There is a large pull out at the north side of a sharp turn, where you’ll park then cross the road, going south. This trail winds through a forest with spectacular views and a bounty of wildflowers in midsummer.

Saddleback Lakes

If you are looking for a more strenuous trip, then Saddleback will fit the bill. Some folks like to overnight it here, since the fishing is excellent and dark skies make for a wonderful view of the milky way on clear nights. There are plenty of fish in the crystal blue water of this jewel of the Sawtooth Mountains. The total distance (out and back) is 6.8 miles.

The trailhead begins at 6,580 feet but in order to get there you’ll need to take a boat shuttle that lasts less than 10 minutes from the marina at Redfish Lake. You’ll then hike up Redfish Lake creek for about 2 miles.

About 100 feet from the brook, there are several logs for crossing the river. At Elephant’s Perch (closest to the river) you will turn from the main trail and navigation gets easier from this point. You’ll be walking at the base of huge slabs that line the west face of Elephants Perch. You’ll reach two other lakes before your destination; the trail becomes steep as it hits the lowest lake, at about 8,200 feet. Continue on until you’ve found the third, and last, lake.

Sawtooth Lake (via Iron Creek trailhead)

Located in the Sawtooth National Forest (also a great, affordable camping area), this hike offers a sample of what the Sawtooths have to offer. 

Not all hikers can handle this 5-mile out and back hike: the elevation gain is substantial at 1,700 feet. The trail takes you to the biggest alpine lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. The trail is pet friendly and there are campgrounds all along the way. You won’t need a permit. This hike is rated “moderate to strenuous” due to the elevation gain.

This is a fabulous camping spot for backpackers. You’ll wake up to a wonderful view of the Sawtooths. Be sure to pack a coffee mug to enjoy a warm brew at sunrise. This area is ideal for lounging, short hikes or swimming in the cold waters of Sawtooth Lake in midsummer.