Lake Creek (Copper Basin) Trail is a 11.1 mile loop trail located near Mackay, Idaho and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is best used from June until October.
This loop trail starts at an elevation of about 8000 feet at Lake Creek Campground. For the first few miles, it stays near the creek with steep ridges towering high above. The scenery is gorgeous with whitebark pine along the ridgelines and among the numerous long rock slides fanning down from the high ridges. The canyon floor and some slopes are interspersed with willow-choked meadows and forests of fir, spruce, pine, and aspen. Fishing in the creek is really good with mostly brookies in the plentiful beaver ponds.
The incline is fairly gradual for the first four miles. Not far after a large meadow (watch for moose!), the trail splits, then climbs onto a high bench below a long, circular, granite ridge that tops out above 11,000 feet. The trail forms a loop, traversing four lakes on this high bench. If you take the left fork, you will reach Round Lake first at around 9400 feet, then Long Lake, Rough Lake, and finally Big Lake at an elevation near 9700 feet before descending to the trail intersection. The trail doesn't actually go to each lake, but short spur trails leave the loop to each lake. A fifth lake, Golden Lake is about a half mile beyond Big Lake.
There are no developed campsites (except at the trailhead which has picnic tables, water, and an outhouse), but Long Lake does have a picnic table.
I hiked the whole loop last year in early June. Some sections were muddy and there were several remaining snowdrifts. The trail switchbacks on the inclines, making the climb not too strenuous. Motorbikes and side-by-sides (50-inch width max.) are allowed on the trail, and weekends in July and August see a lot of traffic.
I hiked to Long Lake via the left fork this past week and stayed a couple days. The trail is in good shape. There was four inches of snow on the upper trail but it melted before my hike out. The creeks have lots of fish, as does Long Lake. Long Lake is a trophy lake and the limit is two fish, none under 20 inches. The biggest we caught was only 16 inches, but it was a lot of fun.
Sunrises at Long Lake are breathtaking. You can't see the actual sunrise, but the lake reflects those rocky peaks with the sun just touching them, making a stunning picture.
Great trail, steep and rocky... A bit I hike a bike and still had snow in the switch backs early july