Explore the most popular lake trails in Salmon National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

7 days ago

Not a bad little hike. The trail starts off steep but eventually mellows out.

9 months ago

Surprised by our solitude--this weekend we were alone up there; but given that school just started and the distance from population centers, maybe not so surprising. Good fishing, great weather. Bear Valley Lake is scenically dramatic; Buck Lake just plain beautiful. It is a steady uphill pull the whole way, but water sources are good.

10 months ago

It was an amazing time spending 6 days out there. Well groomed trail amazing camping spots. They hike was rough getting in a lot of hills and packing for 6 days made it difficult but well worth it

Meadow Lake is lovely! Be sure to stop at the Gilmore Ghost Town on the way up. The trail to the second small lake is easy and beautiful. The second part up to the divide is steeper and rocky.

great hike straight up almost mtye whole way

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Roads to trail head are gated. No access.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Amazing scenery the whole time. Fishing is decent, Not for beginners.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Bighorn Crags are hands down the most beautiful place I've ever been. Its been 4 months since our trip and i still think about everyday.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Amazing hike and views. Do not pass up the opportunity to take this hike. some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the state. Great fishing in every lake we tried too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nice hike up to several high lakes. We were at buck lakes and bear valley and only saw some people on the hike out. Beautiful lakes and excellent fishing.

trail running
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Good semi technical trail to a few different lakes. Horses have it a little beat up and saw some dirt bike tracks. Not sure if those are allowed or not up there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hit this lake as part of a larger trip. Base camp set up at Bill Bird, then day hiked over to Big Clear and the other lakes in the vicinity. Upon the ridge looking down at Big Clear, it is easy to see how it got its name. Reminded me of LakeTahoe because of the color. Fishing was good, but not incredible although it was mid day upon our arrival. We did not see another person while there, unlike at Bill Bird.

Monday, April 18, 2016

First things first. Make sure you have a spare, there is a lot of dirt road to the TH. We needed it. It is a rough go the last 10 miles or so in the car.

On to the hike.
Possibly the best backpacking tip yet. I did this hike with a few other guys ranging in age from upper 30s to low 50s.
We took 2 days in and 2 days out, setting up a base camp at Bill bird and Gentian lakes. We had a very late start at the TH (starting sometime after midnight, due to car, and tire issues).

Ship island lake was like a post card, the pictures don't do it justice. We crossed paths with one couple on their way out from the end of Ship Island, as we broke camp near the trail split to Cathedral lake. One of them looked just beat, and the other just tired. That is a long haul if you are not in shape. My group set up a base camp near Bill Bird, and Gentian. We then did day hikes out to different basins Ship Island was the favorite trip due to the view, and the fishing in Ship Island, an Airplane lake which we hit on the way back to camp. Another day we hiked over to Big Clear lake and several others in that area.Fish were caught in all lakes, using flies, spinners, spoons, or jigs. Ship Island was the best fishing, and likely held larger fish, although we did not catch much over 10-12 inches. Still alot of fun though. We chose not to hike to the end of Ship island to view the cascade into the Salmon river, but were told that it is phenomenal. Maybe next time. on the way back out we stopped near Cathedral again, and fished there. It is a bog, full of mosquitoes, and only fair fishing.

We met beautiful weather for the most part, only slight sprinkles during the day on occasion. On night we did have severe winds, thunder, lightning, and decent rain fall you could hear the wind gushing down the mountain side, and then it would hit you several seconds later. Spending the first night in my hammock and tarp during a storm of such size was a little nerve wracking.

My trip was late July, and we encountered a fairly large patch of snow that needed to be crossed while descending the switchbacks near Harbor and Wilson lakes, going toward Bill Bird.

I would recommend this trip. Just know that you are going to be doing a lot of smaller elevation changes along the way. We also met 2 groups of forest service rangers while on the trip who were there to make sure the camp sites and trails were being maintained. They said that aluminum foil was the biggest problem typically, so please pack it out.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

This was a great trail. I was challenged as a newbie to mountain hiking. I found it very rewarding to push myself and satisfying to reach the ridge. The views from the top were truly breathtaking. Well worth the time and effort.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We camped at the campground. Get there early if you want a spot. All 18 sites were full by Friday at 4:00.

The trail was awesome. There was ice on the pond beneath the moraine. The flowers were beautiful and the vistas of the valley below and granite cliffs above were spectacular. Once we got to the top of the moraine the trail was marked with piles of rocks. The trail switches back and forth across the scree fields. We tried to make to the summit, but when we were about 300 feet from the top we were hit by a storm. We turned around in time, but we could've been in a lot of trouble had we not been paying attention. The storm brought sleet for over 2 hours and turned the whole mountain white. The Temps dropped to the 40's. It was crazy.

Don't let this short trail fool you. This can be a dangerous hike in the wrong weather conditions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Classic hike and lake in the Idaho Bighorn Crags. One day for the the stout. Two days for the more casual cruiser. Carry plenty of water. There is a camp host and a water pump at Crags CG. You will be ridge hopping for the first 7 miles until you get to Genitan and Bird Bill Lakes. Dead Horse pass at Fish Fish Ridge has a set of harry switchbacks. The 2nd half is easy up and mostly down hiking. Airplane lake is a large beautiful lake on the way. Ship Island Lake is a 1.5 mile tarn lake surrounded by steep crags with goat slides. Ship Island Creek literally "dumps" into the Salmon River (Impassable). Really fun 6-8' erratic cubelike boulders sitting on a large, slick, striated granite dome at the outlet. Waterfall too. Fly fishing was superb! Rainbows, Cut Throat and California Goldens! I didn't land any fish of real size, probably due to high altitude and rocky bottomed glacier lake (not to say that they aren't in there). Yet, I caught all the pan sized fish you could want. I carry a backpacker's float tube and super light fins. The fish were nearly jumping in my tube. Goldens really put up a good fight. Camping is on the right. There were boy scouts at Airplane Lake but we saw no others for two days until a group of horse packers came in. I was amazed that they actually rode their horses down the switchbacks at dead horse pass. The wife of the group had enough sense to walk hers down:). There are some short day hikes to smaller lakes. It would be easy to set up a 5 to 10 day trip to a lot of gorgeous high mountain lakes in the immediate area. On the way out we skipped over to Harbor Lake. Make sure your tires are in good shape. We popped a tire on the way out on the granite based dirt roads that go for 55 miles.

Monday, September 01, 2014

My son and I camped the first night at the trail head and than hiked 3 miles into buck lake. It was an awesome hike and we had a really good time. The first buck lake was beautiful. The reason I give this a 3 star rating is because when we got to the first lake and camp ground we encountered a boyscout troop leaving, and when we got to the actual campground they had left the place trashed and their fires were still burning. They burned trash and plastic everywhere and damaged a bunch of trees. My son and I spent all day trying to put their fires out and clean up. It sucked. When we finally started to settle down a group of people on horseback with there dogs showed up and started trashing the place all over again. It was a real bummer. I chose this location because I thought it was remote enough to avoid all of the regular trappings of close to city camping. Guess I was wrong

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I did this hike 3 days overnight late June. There are quite a few lakes up this trail but the signs telling you how far a lake is from a junction can be misleading and generally refer to how far away the next milage sign. the main bear valley lake was probably an extra 2 miles or more than indicated. there were spots to camp up at the main lake but there was so much rain and snow run off that it was flooded. I would recommend making a base camp 3 miles from the trailhead (the spot has a fire ring and the only flat tentable ground till you get to the lake.) and then explore the lakes when you have all day to see a few of them. I wouldn't say its a hard hike but to get to the lake and back in a day you would have to be in decent shape as you gain over 2000 feet over 8 miles and the terrain is fairly rocky. 5 stars for low trail usage (i didnt see anyone for the 3days i was there) and the gorgeous lake!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wednesday, June 03, 2015