Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake

MODERATE 191 reviews
#1 of 55 trails in

Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake is a 8.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Stanley, Idaho that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,758 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

cross country skiing

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

snow

2 days ago

Awesome Great Beautiful easy to moderate. Can’t ask for a better day hike

4 days ago

This was our first hike in Idaho. While the trail can be done on a few hours, we opted to spend the entire day and took it slow. Definitely take the detour to Alpine Lake. Honestly, Sawtooth is bigger but Alpine was our solid favorite. We spent a good chunk of time here just enjoying the silence other than the sound of the water lapping the edge. We continued on up the switchbacks and hot another little lake (which we nicknamed decoy lake) and almost turned around did to a snow squall that moved in. But so glad we pushed on another few yards. Sawtooth Lake was gorgeous. We took the extra time to walk to the far side of the lake and followed the trail on through a boulder field for a spectacular view of some mountain lake in the distance. We stopped a few times for snacks, lunch, and just to experience the peace of the wilderness. We made our way back to Iron Creek trailhead for a total of 13+ miles and 8 hours exactly. As I said, it can be done in way less time, but we took deliberate time.

hiking
6 days ago

Pretty hike with good views pretty much the whole time! No bugs. Easy to get to.

hiking
22 days ago

My favorite trail I have done in Idaho. The only thing this trail is missing is a waterfall!

hiking
24 days ago

This is one of my favorite hikes. This was the third time I have done this hike and each time I love it more! The hike is almost exactly 10 miles out and back if you take the detour to visit Alpine Lake. We stopped there on the way up and then hiked around Sawtooth Lake a bit once arrived. It is a stunning beauty and well worth the miles you put in. The entirety of the trail is beautiful. The water crossing a couple miles in is low this time of year and easy to cross. No snow up at the lake either which was a first for me!

trail running
24 days ago

Awesome running trail, walked during some of the switch backs and sat in the creek on the way back! July weather was perfect for an afternoon run. Took a little less than 2 hours round trip. :)

27 days ago

Could not ask for more in a hike. Beautiful scenery, great trail with a nice mix of level terrain, switchbacks, and sites. This is a 10 mile hike, should you choose (and you should) make it all the way to Sawtooth Lake. Note that Alpine Lake is "off trail" and to get to Sawtooth, you will take the fork to the right at the "Alpine Lake" trail sign.

hiking
1 month ago

For those of you who would consider yourself a novice, like myself, after about 2.5 miles of general hicking expect about 2 miles of hiking up switchbacks to get all the way to the top (I checked it with a GPS). The trail was good with some places with higher stepping place and some loose rocks. We stopped at Alpine Lake along the way for a short break and managed to get to Sawtooth Lake in 3 hours. On the way back with just walking at a moderate pace took about 2.5 hours.

trail running
1 month ago

Today was a beautiful day for this hike/trail run. There was many great views of the jagged peaks of the sawtooth mountains. The turquoise color on the edge of both sawtooth lake and alpine lake were amazing. I didn't notice many mosquitoes and the air was clear. It took me about 1 hr 45 minutes to go up and about 1 hr 20 minutes to come down (some trail running involved). I spent about an hour at the lake. Overall this is a very scenic hike and there are still some wildflowers in bloom.

1 month ago

Great variety - lush meadows, bubbling creeks, great views all around. Lots of wild flowers!

backpacking
1 month ago

camped at Alpine lake, and day hiked up to Sawtooth lake. The beauty of this place feels like a national park. spent the afternoon at Sawtooth lake swimming (cold), and "sledding" on a snow field in our bathing suits. Most beautiful place I have ever backpacked.

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. A little of everything on the way.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike, beautiful lakes, incredible mountains. First half is super easy, all the elevation gain is done in the last two miles. My watch clocked me at 10.75 miles, we had to park a little bit down the road from the main parking lot, so a little bit of the extra mileage came from this but not a lot. I’d plan this to be more around 10 and not 8.5.

1 month ago

Loved this trail and Lake! Switchbacks made the elevation change easy. Beautiful lake, clear water.

hiking
1 month ago

Lovely day hike. It was a great way for a flat lander to acclimate before a multi day backcountry trip.

1 month ago

it is a little than moderate for small children ;)

backpacking
1 month ago

Very enjoyable hike! We backpacked to Sawtooth Lake and camped. Good amount of elevation gain and we hiked in early August and I was chilly. If you camp, be sure to pack warm clothes for sleeping!

1 month ago

Loved the trail and views at top were gorgeous.

backpacking
1 month ago

We decided late Friday night to head out for an overnight in the Sawtooths ... and selected this route. A good bit of elevation gain to make it to Sawtooth Lake is definitely worth it. There were a number of people camping, but we were still able to find a great spot. Bring bug spray, not insane but you’ll want it. Good access to water along the way. Always amazing to wake up at 9,000ft. A good number of day hikers, all good encounters up and down, including a lovely mix of languages and cultures. ♥️

backpacking
1 month ago

The trail was much better than expected. Still some snow packs at 8300’ where we camped on Sawtooth lake. Super windy and that kept the mosquitoes down for the most part. As soon as the wind died down, out they came...
Plenty of water on trail. Not a great hammock location as suitable trees weren’t abundant anywhere Sawtooth lake itself, but we made due. The trail Was 9.9 miles according to this app’s tracker. Plenty of people and dogs “off leash” but no problems.

hiking
1 month ago

I hadn’t gone hiking in a while. This hike had been on my bucket list for a while and I had the opportunity to hike it and I definitely don’t regret it.

I read reviews as I hadn’t met anybody personally who had hiked it, and they made me out to believe it was a fairly easy trail. WRONG.

It would be easy for those with stamina and whom have hiked before but I hadn’t and I’m still feeling it three days after.

The app says it’s a little over 8 miles. But from the parking lot, up and back it was exactly 10.

It was fairly trafficked. Met a few people on the trail. The views were beyond anything I expected. Highly highly recommend this trail to any avid hiker/adventure seeker. I can’t wait for the day i do this trail again!

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked July 12th. First time hiking in Idaho. We only had one day/night in Sawtooth (before moving on to Glacier) so this was the hike not to miss. It was better than any of the photos show, so expectation were exceeded. Round trip from trailhead parking lot to Sawtooth Lake was right at 10 miles. Load up on bug spray! My only regret for this hike was not getting in the lake. After getting in two glacier lakes at Glacier National, I really wish I had taken a plunge in Sawtooth as well.

backpacking
2 months ago

Hiked in on Saturday last week and stayed at the lake two nights. We though Sat would be busy but actually, we had the place mostly to ourselves!

We camped on the top of the rock hill on the east side of the lake. That is a great spot unless you like to have water close to camp.

The bugs were pretty bad I guess. I'm never one to complain about bugs but they were persistent for sure. The mosquitos were kinda nonaggressive but there was a lot of them.

This hike and lake are SO beautiful it's just fantastic no matter what.

2 months ago

Don’t miss out on doing this hike if you are in the area! Wildflowers, beautiful views of the Sawtooths, Alpine Lake and Sawtooth Lake are stunning! Challenging at times, but 100% worth it!!

2 months ago

Beautiful amazing trail

2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing hike.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

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