Sawtooth Lake is a 10 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Stanley, Idaho that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,873 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

Although the hike is accessible year-round, if you're visiting in winter the trail will likely be covered in snow, requiring more gear and skill.

hiking
snow
7 days ago

The first 3.5 miles of the trail are dry and easy. After the creek the trail is covered in soft, wet, slushy, and sometimes deep snow, making the trail difficult to follow. We had snow shoes, microspikes, and poles and relied on them to get up and down. Beautiful views but I’d recommend being prepared for the snow. Both lakes still covered in ice.

hiking
rocky
snow
10 days ago

Sawtooth is still covered in ice but the snow is climbable, although very wet :) we didn’t have any gear, shoes were soaked but it was all passable! Great views.

hiking
icy
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
12 days ago

5/17/20 The snow was too deep and too high on the ridge, about a mile up from the lake. Absolutely gorgeous hike, but I do think these mountains are best experienced in July or August, it’s just too hard to see all they have to offer when they’re buried in snow. Definitely a steep hike. Needed snowshoes.

hiking
off trail
snow
15 days ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike but please reconsider AllTrail's statement of "Accessible YEAR-ROUND." Performing this hike on May 22nd was one of the more dangerous things I've done next to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, mostly because it was a hot day following a few inches of fresh snowfall, making avalanche conditions moderate as the day went on. Recommend bringing snowshoes unless you are performing this hike in the peak of summer. First 2.5 miles are relaxing stroll through forest with some nice openings of views of the Sawtooths in different directions. Once you cross over the river there is a nice viewpoint to the left with a 360 degree view of the surroundings. If snow conditions are rough, this is where the hike turns from a "hike" to more of a "mountaineering/snowshoe" experience. We could not find any switchbacks going up to the ridge so we powered through the incline, which was both exhausting and exhilarating. Plenty of tree coverage at this point to kind of hold the snow and prevent any major avalanche. Once you are on top of the ridge with the option to go down to Alpine Lake or continue up along the ridge to the Saddle between Alpine and McGown peaks, the trail gets very dangerous. A slip of 10 or so feet in either direction could put you off of a cliff, giving very little time to self arrest in soft, slushy snow conditions. It is doable, but I would start as early in the morning as possible to ensure the snow is as firm as it can be and be ready for an ass kicker of a climb and make sure you feel comfortable sliding & self-arresting in the event you catch a real soft spot or misstep. Views were amazing and so worth it, but I would say that viewpoint just after Iron Creek is one of the best in the Sawtooths and the 5-6mi round trip to that point is safe and a good hike for those not looking for anything too dangerous. AllTrails, PLEASE update this hike to not be "year-round" accessibility. Would recommend May-September at the earliest, maybe June-September.

hiking
scramble
snow
20 days ago

Beautiful views but virtually impassable at the very end due to snow covering the switchbacks. Attempted on May 17, turned back just before the final ascent over the ridge to Sawtooth. Still a great day hike!

hiking
icy
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

This trail was amazing! There was a lot of snow throughout the entirety of the hike. We weren’t able to get up to Alpine or Sawtooth Lake because of hearing an avalanche, so we decided to turn back as the snow was becoming more difficult to traverse the last part of the scramble. Disappointed we weren’t able to make it, but I think we made the safer choice. Looking forward to completing it soon.

hiking
4 months ago

Very fun trail. Did it during the summertime and camped at Sawtooth lake on the far side. Difficult but manageable ascent for me, gorgeous views at the end. Really nice for a moderate overnighter. Not too many bugs.

6 months ago

did this hike for my birthday this November and it's absolutely stunning with Gorgeous views. it was pretty moderate with the nice size elevation gain, and a definite Advanced last 2 miles. the ice slowed us down a bit and we definitely did some skating on the way back down but it was worth the beauty of both Alpine and Sawtooth Lakes

6 months ago

hiked early November. beautiful, but melted snow can turn to ice, so the trip down was more channeling than expected

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail. Went in early October and there was a fair amount if snow on the trails. Was still able to get to the lakes, but make sure you bring some good shoes as the snow can get pretty thick the higher you go. There were some small scrambles off the trail, but nothing unmanageable by someone with little rock climbing experience. The colors were absolutely gorgeous (especially on the drive there along the river).

hiking
muddy
snow
7 months ago

Did this hike on Oct 12, expected snow and there was some, mainly on the mile just before Alpine Lake. Trail to Sawtooth Lake was in good shape. We had blue skies and only a little wind at the lake. The last 1.5 miles back to the trailhead had some serious mud later in the day. Long hike but really manageable climb and well maintained trail. Beautiful destination!

hiking
8 months ago

A great fall hike...windy at the lake but absolutely beautiful. We agree with other posters that it’s more moderate of a hike than difficult.

hiking
8 months ago

This is an amazing hike! The trail isn't too difficult until you get past Alpine Lake. Then it gets significantly more challenging but it's still manageable. I'm not sure if I agree with the "hard" rating though. To me it's a high-end "moderate" level hike. I've hiked trails this site rates as "moderate" that were more difficult than this. Anyways, just when you think you've had enough, Sawtooth Lake comes into view and it's absolutely stunning! If you turn left when you get to Sawtooth Lake, there is a hill right on the shore of the lake that makes for great panoramic views of the lake if you hike to the top of it. You can also keep going if you want and you'll run into two smaller lakes further down the trail. The trail is in excellent condition the entire way, but there are a couple of fallen trees you'll have to step over in the first couple miles. This hike took me 6 hours to complete. Also, this trail does not go all the way up to Alpine Peak. It would be an extremely steep and dangerous off-trail climb to Alpine Peak and I don't recommend that anyone attempt it unless they're very experienced.

hiking
8 months ago

Did this hike awhile ago, got to the lake and a storm rolled in so we left early but definitely want to go back and spend a night up there simply beautiful.

backpacking
8 months ago

amazing views! worth the journey!

backpacking
8 months ago

Great trail! Well maintained. It’s definitely a climb to get to the top but it’s mostly switch backs. As most of the others have stated it’s worth the 10 minute detour to Alpine lake if you are able. We backpacked up and stayed the night.

hiking
off trail
9 months ago

This was a great hike all around. Note that after Sawtooth lake this route is off trail and goes straight up the hill.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike, shaded most of the time. lots of other hikes with dogs. just before the lakes is a meadow with beautiful overlooks. We are not avid hikers at all but could easily do this one, we took our dog and 2.5 year old who did great we only had to put her in a carrier in the second set of switchbacks but she's great with walking for a long time. totally worth it and you can stop at the first lake if the hike is too long. The trail is well kept and clear besides the second set of switchbacks where they get a little steep with some loose rocks.

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