Hiking to Sawtooth Lake

Hiking to Sawtooth Lake

Hiking to Sawtooth Lake is a journey which reveals more of the breathtaking magnificence of the Sawtooth Wilderness with each step taken.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  10 Miles Round Trip
Trailhead(s):  Iron Creek Trailhead
Elevation Gain:  1,850’
Trail Type:  Out and Back
Dogs:  Allowed
Difficulty:  Moderately Strenuous
Permit Required?  Yes; Self Registration on Trail
Considerations:  Snow
Season:  June – September (Best)


Hiking to Sawtooth Lake is a fantastic adventure packed with as much beauty as the eye can behold.  For those seeking an exceptional hike in the Sawtooth National Recreation area, this one delivers.


For those who are interested, there is a small campground at the Iron Creek Trailhead.  It has toilets, drinking water, and nine campsites.  It is first come, first serve.  For more information on the campground click here.

Because Sawtooth Lake lies in the Sawtooth Wilderness, a (free) wilderness permit is required for this hike.  Self-registration is located at the Iron Creek Trailhead.  After filling out the paperwork, take your copy and get ready for a mind-blowingly beautiful hike.


Plan to spend the entire day hiking to Sawtooth Lake because you will stop often.  This beautiful, special area simply permeates the soul with its incredibly scenic and photogenic jagged peaks, majestic trees, gurgling creek, and insanely exquisite lakes.

Trailhead to Alpine Lake

After leaving the Iron Creek Trailhead, the rock and root strewn trail ascends gently, but steadily.  After a mile and 200 feet of elevation gain, it enters the Sawtooth Wilderness.  The grade remains similarly mild for the next mile while the picturesque forest and craggy peaks charm and delight the senses.  The next couple of miles climb more steeply via switchback, and the views just keep coming as the trail takes hikers up above Alpine Lake.

Because the trail does not pass directly along Alpine Lake, take the spur trail down to its shore.  It is about four miles in, and it is marked.  This is a do-not-miss side trip because Alpine Lake is dazzlingly pretty.  This is a picture-perfect place to stop to rest and snack beside the shimmering, clear, blue green water.  The reflection of Packrat Peak in the clear water is enchanting.  After climbing back up to the main trail, look for the rocky outcropping which opens up and affords a gorgeous top down view of Alpine Lake before heading on to Sawtooth Lake.  It’s a good one.

Alpine Lake to Sawtooth Lake

After leaving Alpine Lake, hiking to Sawtooth Lake is more strenuous because the trail climbs at a faster pace.  It is roughly a mile from Alpine Lake to Sawtooth Lake, and the elevation gain is close to 600 feet.  Steeper areas employ switchbacks, but the grade is strenuous in some spots.  Shortly before arriving at Sawtooth Lake the trail takes on more of an up and down profile and passes by a small, pretty pond.  Let the excitement build because the reward for your effort is just steps away.


With spots of snow still clinging to its granite on our early September hike, Mt Regan is a striking backdrop for Sawtooth Lake.  Views of distant granite peaks through a pass below Mt Regan at the far end of the lake add intrigue, and beckon us to keep going.  However, since this was our destination (and we had a long drive back to Sun Valley), we fought the urge to explore further.  Perching ourselves on a large chunk of rock, we ditched our packs and sat silently soaking in the lake’s deep, sapphire blue waters.  Nearer to shore the aquamarine of the shallow areas adds delightful magic to the scene, as does the varied vegetation, scattered evergreens, and jumble of rocks.

For those with energy and time for more exploring, the trail splits to follow the lake in either direction.  Continue to the left towards Mt Regan for a longer hike along the shoreline and a peek at what lies beyond the pass.  Alternatively, head to the right for a briefer hike along the lake where the prevailing winds push fallen trees to the shoreline.

When it is time to depart, take a long, last look and head back the way you came.  If you did not take time to turn around on your way up, rest assured, the scenery on the way back is just as breathtaking as it was on the way up.

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information (Click below to follow links.)

Hike to Sawtooth Lake Slideshow

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Gear We Use for Day Hiking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for day hiking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Hike to Goat Lake

Articles About Other Regional Outventures

Click below to learn about other regional outventures in this area.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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