Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Sawtooth 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.

lovely hike through forests and fields of wildflowers. would rate it only moderately difficult, if that.

park early - we arrived at 10am on a tuesday and snaffled the last spot. no need to pay for parking but you should fill out the hiker registration forms as you begin. didn’t see much wildlife on the trail but the lakes were lovely. lots of people to tip your hat to on the way up and down.

backpacking
1 day ago

Amazing hike! The boulder chain lakes are amazing and well worth the trip. Devils staircase is a little treacherous and I wouldn’t recommend it to people new to backpacking. Bring your camera and be prepared to take lots of photos.

Hiked this morning, July 15, moderate difficulty. Good shade throughout. May want to wear a pair of light pants and a good portion of the trail has thistle growing at the edge of a narrow path: I had shorts on and was poked a bit but not horribly. Few spots on the end where the steep decent along with fine gravel makes things a bit greasy. Good overall experience

Amazing hike.

Beautiful hike! Far from “lightly trafficked” though - got an early start and only saw folks that had backpacked up at the lake. Passed dozens and dozens of folks headed up on our way back down. Don’t forget dog leashes if you have them - leash laws enforced July 1-Labor Day Weekend. A bear crossed our path on the way up but it was more afraid of us and just took off.

Beautiful lake with blue and almost turquoise waters. Snowcapped mountains behind. Wildflowers in bloom. Couple snowy areas to cross, but they are easily passable and crampons were not needed. Perfect weather. Sunny with a light breeze. My GPS watch clocked at just under 10 miles from parking lot to sitting area at Sawtooth Lake & back. Took us 4.5 hours + 1 hour at the lake. Would definitely recommend!

Dispersed campsites on road up to trailhead (get there early - fill up quickly) & pay campground at the trailhead with trash dumpster & potable water.

Beautiful trail. The wildflower garden in the meadow as you cross Iron Creek before climbing up to Alpine Lake was the most beautiful and extensive that I have seen anywhere! Sawtooth Lake and Goat Lakes are the most scenic of the Sawtooth area. We backpacked on to Observation Peak (trail to the top) for fantastic panoramic Sawtooth views and photos.

backpacking
8 days ago

I did a modified version of this loop. Beware that the trail from Patterson Peak to Quiet Lake doesn’t exist - or at least I couldn’t find it. I went from quiet lake over the ridge to four lakes basin. Once again a very steep descent with no clear trail. Mosquitoes at all lakes are very intense and even with bug spray can get very tiresome. I would rate this trail as difficult (at least the first half).

Did this yesterday! Beautiful hike, has everything; creeks, waterfalls, meadows, forest and lakes of course. Pretty easy going until you pass the creeks, keep an eye out for the little trails between the switchbacks if you feel up to it, definitely speeds things up! Still pretty muddy and snowy at the top, made the going a little tough at times. Thankfully the way down is much faster and easier! Got some crazy blisters so dont forget bandaid's, bugspray and sunscreen (got pretty burnt too.)

Went two days ago. Best all-around hike ever. So great. So beautiful.

JULY 6, 2018: got a late start that morning for the hike, it was already starting to get very warm out. the hike was ok, VERY CONFUSING at times (there are a lot of random paths). if you stay on track then you will be fine. i only went up to the first lake (Alpine Lake), which was beautiful! some of my friends continued to Sawtooth Lake, but got lost and said it was a struggle the rest of the way. they said the lake was amazing though.
definitely some uphill switchbacks for a ways, but decent.
BRING BUG SPRAY— THE MOSQUITOS ARE VICIOUS!

backpacking
11 days ago

Stellar views, and not too crowded, even over the 4th. The pass is still snow packed and there’s a narrow cornice to squeeze through, but there are footprints to follow over the snow packed areas where the trail disappears. Be warned, the mosquitoes are appalling, and are biting through bug repellant. They were so bad I turned my 2 nighter into an overnight and knocked out the remainder of the loop in a day.

Alice lake is one of my favorite lakes in the Sawtooths

This trail blew me away. Prepare to get your feet wet doing a half dozen or so stream crossings and significant hiking over snowpack. Doable in one day if you start very early and travel light. Plentiful sources of water along the way.

backpacking
12 days ago

Beautiful hike! We camped at Alpine Lake instead of Sawtooth Lake, and we’re glad we did. It was a pretty easy hike (great for trying to get used to the elevation). The lake was stunning and the sky was the bluest we’ve seen. The stars were unparalleled. We did see a deer, but no other wildlife. There was a little snow between Alpine Lake and Sawtooth Lake (6/2-6/4), but it was very easy to traverse. The bugs were what you should be expecting from an alpine lake - definitely bring bug spray. Highly recommend!

hiking
12 days ago

Possibly my favorite hike I’ve ever done. Saw plenty of birds, deer and quarrels on the hike up. The view from the lake is well worth the 8 mile round trip hike! At no point would I consider this a difficult hike, moderate at best.

Nice hike with great views. Alpine lake and sawtooth lake were outstanding. It took us 2hrs up and 2hrs down. We didn’t stop for very long though because the mosquitoes were terrible.

Beautiful trail. We got up to snowy, slushy Sawtooth Lake June 14th.

Gorgeous hike along the creek. The mountains and peaks in the valley are awesome. And just when you question if there really is a cabin at the end of the trail there it is. Loved the art left behind by previous hikers.

Really the best. Just epic views on the top half. Lake is gorgeous. Totally inspiring. Bottom third a little boring but goes fast. Fair amount of snow on trail on July 1 but not a problem.

Great time to do before it gets crowded! We came out yesterday. Spent two nights and was surprised how good of a push the hiking was each day so don’t let the lack of major elevation fool you. We also clocked closer to 22 miles. Clockwise was the way to go with Alice first. Bit of snow coming over the summit totally passable but looked miserable for those coming up via Toxaway. Weather was amazing! Not too cold. Go soon before it gets busy!!

hiking
20 days ago

We hiked to top Bench Lake 2 days ago. We were greeted with the top lake still partially frozen. The views down to Redfish lake were stunning as was Mt Henley. We camped in the cirque withy no other hikers.
The trail after Third lake was easy to lose but well with the effort for these two Aussies who are in their 60’s

backpacking
20 days ago

6/27/18 There are only a few small patches of well packed snow to cross. Enjoy.

Very nice loop. We went by way of Alice Lake around to Toxaway. Lots of good scenery and alpine views. Still a good bit of snow going over the pass. We had to make our way without a trail for a good bit but found our way through. There was a cornice at the top of the pass so had to do some light scrambling over a rocky area to get past it. Think the milage is closer to 20 miles. Water is plentiful. Great trip.

Great hike with amazing views. We took our time and plenty of photos which averaged us out around 46 minutes/mile. (2 short days and 2 full days)

We enjoyed the trip best coming in from Pettit Lake to Toxaway first, going over the pass, then down by Alice Lake back to Pettit. Last year we started the other directions and we just preferred the other way personally.

Views are amazing. The pass was a challenge and a little sketchy if you aren’t used to snow/heights, but that was a first for me and it was accomplished, so doable. (June 22nd, 2018)

Amazing climb. The hike to the first lake was easy. The last climb to it is real steep. The climb to the upper lake is nice. The climb from the lake to Hyndman and Old Hyndman saddle is steep and rocky. Mid June and the snow fields were soggy and knee deep. The climb to the peak from the saddle took 1hour 45 minutes. The view is worth the work! The hike down you will remind you of the steepness.

Beautiful gradual climb. Intensity grows towards the end of the trail. Great sunrise hike

did the full loop june 15th and 16th.amazing scenery! very alpine lots of snow over the pass hard to find trail but doable for 3 miles between twin lakes and toxaway...worth it! creeks running high overall adventure and plenty of views and water.....Bring fishing pole!

love this trail didn't make the full loop because I didn't know when it ended. Has alot of shaded areas, listened to river just beautiful

The trail was beautiful. The views awe inspiring.
Only drawback is the downed trees over the trail. You had to walk around or over them.

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