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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.

Length 10.0 mi Elevation gain 1,873 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Snowshoeing

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Snow

Description
Waypoints (4)

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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (435)
Photos (625)
Recordings (232)
Completed (924)
Kyle Dunst
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
Hiking

Breathtaking views the entire way. It’s amazing to hike ~2000’ up and then be at “sea” level. A couple things to be aware of (but don’t let them stop you from doing this incredible hike): 1) the road from 21 to the trailhead is super sketchy. Best to have 4WD if possible. 2) parking is a disaster. Cars all over the place, I could barely get out because someone blocked me in.

Pet Fish
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

Super easy 10 mile hike and with absolutely gorgeous views. Sawtooth lake is a beauty and we went on Wednesday without many hikers. There is a smelly dead elk in the lake but there’s plenty of space to get away from it, and it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about death and what happens to a corpse after some time in a wet environment. I ate a delicious wrap nearby but it wasn’t my most well constructed. It had veggie burger, arugula, I think some chicken, goat cheese, and some hot sauce. I love the flavor of paleo wraps but they just don’t have the structure I need, especially after being in a backpack.

Amy Duhon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

We got there for 7:20 & lot was almost full. Only saw one couple on way up so maybe they were overnight campers. Trail was perfect for one not in 10 mile shape. Elevation is gradual, shade 80%. Only got to Alpine Lake & it was stunning. Was out of gas for last hard mil to Sawtooth, but scenery was phenomenal.

Rachel Heath
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 8, 2020
HikingGreat!

The dead elk definitely still stinks. FYI.

Johanna Harrison
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
Hiking

BEAutiful. Not hard at all, the incline is super mild

View Johanna's Recording
Dylan Richard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Go early.

Lexis Huiting
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 5, 2020
Backpacking

The trail from Alpine to Sawtooth was just about a mile, very rocky, but easy for experienced hikers. We camped at the very beginning of Sawtooth Lake, right at the log jam. The dead elk there no longer stinks and you can’t really see it from the trail. Sawtooth was pretty, but I think Alpine is the real attraction. Lots of people even during the week. 8/3-8/4

Richard Blunk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020
Hiking

Excellent hike with amazing views even though we did about 75% of it in rain (sprinkles to heavy). We’re flatlanders from Iowa and had no problem left at 1400 and back by 1930. It was our only chance to go and I’m really glad we did.

Erin Gatfield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020
Backpacking

(Backpacked on 7-31-20 to 8-1-20)) Of course the trail is spectacular. These are the Sawtooths! The first 2.5 miles are pretty gradual with quite a bit of of shade and many opportunities for the dog to cool off in the nearby creek. The final 2.5 miles include steeper switchbacks, but hopefully you'll be so distracted by the exposed granite teeth for which this mountain range is named to care about the physical exertion. You'll climb above emerald-toned Alpine Lake and arrive at a pond, but keep going to reach Sawtooth Lake. It's an enchanting sapphire blue under the high-noon sun. I'd love to give this hike 5 stars, but now for the bad news: 1) This trail is POPULAR and sees a lot of pressure in the summer. Be prepared for crowds. Go on a weekday if you can. 2) There were two dead elk in the lake, one at the first sight of the lake on the log jam, and another good-sized bull elk farther down the trail against the bank. They created a stench of death in the air, especially in the hot wind. 3) Our dog found three sites of human poop, each hastily covered with some sticks or with a rock. The first was right next to the trail, and the other two were right next to our clearly established tent sites. People: when you need to go poop, do so off the trail, outside of the camping areas, and bury it in the ground! Pack out toilet paper. That's just gross. 4) A guy was using a drone which added an annoying amount of noise pollution to our supposed serene experience. But we asked him if he was aware drones were illegal in the wilderness area, and he said he was unaware and promptly stopped. We didn't hear it the rest of the time we were there. 5) Only half of the dog owners we saw abided by the leash rule in effect from July 1st - Labor Day. 6) When we got back to the trailhead the next day, the parking lot was overflowing. We counted over 50 vehicles OUTSIDE of the designated trailhead parking area, all over the vegetation on the side of the road and some had run into "no camping" signs. I am so sad that the same people coming to enjoy the location are also the ones destroying it. On the plus side, the moonrise over the mountains was pink and lovely!

Kimberly Lakus
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Great hike but long! The incline is pretty mild most of the way with a few exceptions. Alpine lake was the highlight for us! However, the sun was not out once we made it to Sawtooth Lake.

View Kimberly's Recording
Laura Bero
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
HikingBugs

Beautiful trail. We went early around 6:30am, and it took us about 4.5 hours round trip. We missed the big crowds & just saw people on our way down. Amazing views & be sure to bring bug spray if you hang by the lake! I’d say it’s somewhat more moderate but gets more difficult up towards the lake. Definitely suggest going early if you want to miss the crowds & heat. If you don’t think you’re at the right lake, KEEP GOING! We were confused by the smaller lake after the alpine lake. There are 3 total lakes. The actual alpine lake, a smaller lake, THEN sawtooth lake.

Benjamin Schallop
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking

Very beautiful hike. Great views and a good uphill climb at the end.

View Benjamin's Recording
Mackenzie Sheridan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingBugs

Completed this trail the weekend of 07/17-07/19. Started at the Iron Creek trail head and it was very busy. Luckily we found a parking spot at the lot, but there were many cars parked alongside the road. Trail was trafficked, but once up at Alpine lake it wasn’t too crowded. Spent the night at Alpine Lake and the water was chilly but perfect for swimming. There were a lot of mosquitos up at Alpine, but good spray did the trick. Next morning we hiked up to Sawtooth Lake and the views were incredible. The lake was crystal blue and all of the wildflowers were in bloom. Great area to string up a hammock, set up camp or take a day hike past Sawtooth following the trail along the lake. Highly recommend this trail for hikers of all abilities. Expect busyness, some skeets up by the water, and breathtaking vistas!

Erin Carantza
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingBugs

Great hike! There’s some really pretty views. Both lakes are gorgeous. Keep hiking past the first lake about a mile to get to sawtooth- it’s worth it! We did get caught in a hail storm hiking down which was crazy! Overall- highly recommended this trail.

Maddie Killworth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

Very beautiful trail!! Bring lots of water and sunscreen!

Whitney D
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
HikingBugs

We completed this hike 7/22- by far one of my favorite hikes so far. I would consider this more moderate than hard. We started at around 7:20 and got to the top in about 2 hours. This is extremely scenic which is why I loved it so much. Every mile is something different VS most hikes that have you trek through a forest to one spot. The different lakes were gorgeous, definitely recommend if you are visiting the sawtooths

Nancy Davis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking

Awesome trail!! The grade isn’t too bad like everyone said the last mile is the hardest. I think this is due to lack of shade. The bloated dead elk is smelly right when you get to the lake.. Fellow hikers were awesome and considerate everyone was there to have a great time. Parking lot fills fast..

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Zachary Calhoun
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail. Easy in the beginning but difficult during last mile or so. Absolutely beautiful lake at the end!!

Brianna DiMilia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 24, 2020
Hiking

Absolutely beautiful and worth the hike! I’d say this trail is more moderate than it is hard.

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Hailey Whitten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 24, 2020
Hiking

Fairly busy trail. Very pretty scenery throughout the whole hike! Flat for the first part then gets a bit steeper and rockier towards the end-well worth the lake views! (Just make sure you use the bathroom at the trailhead as there’s minimal to no coverage off the trail for that business)

Sara Darrow
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 23, 2020

Spectacular views. Avoid this hike of you want solitude. Parking lot was full at 11 am. we easily encountered 100 people on the trail such that for most of the hike other people were in view or earshot. Hiked on 7/22/2020, took about 4.5 hours including time at the top. Relatively easy for experienced hikers. Dead elk at outflow of Sawtooth Lake.

Bella Hartman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 20, 2020
HikingBugsRocky

There’s a reward at the end. Most beautiful view of the lake that mirrors the mountain on the water. Its recharged and relaxed you when u see the scenery. Most recommended

Nikki Silva
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
Hiking

Incredible lake with incredible views and even on a very busy day, pretty uncrowded. Make sure you don’t stop at Alpine lake- the small lake beneath Sawtooth lake. Some folks got the lakes confused and turned around early. You’ll know you’ve hit the main Sawtooth lake... so if you find yourself underwhelmed JUST KEEP WALKING.

View Nikki's Recording
Brandon McBride
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 17, 2020
CampingGreat!Rocky
Denise Kirchhoff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 15, 2020
Hiking

Amazingly beautiful!! It's 5 miles up and 5 miles back with an elevation gain of 1873 feet. The first 4 miles weren’t too bad, but the last mile is pretty difficult, but it’s worth every step. We just took it slow. You will pass by two lakes (Alpine Lake and Little Sawtooth). Be sure to go all the way to Sawtooth Lake as it’s around the corner to the left of Little Sawtooth Lake and would be easy to miss b/c there aren’t signs. The trail at the top becomes indistinct, but as long as you're working your way around to the left side of Little Sawtooth you will be fine. Many people were confused. It would be a shame to hike that far and miss the “grand prize." I suggest starting your hike as early as possible, wear hiking boots, sunscreen, lots of water, snacks/lunch & mosquito spray. Hiking poles are also recommended. We started up the mountain at 8:30 am and it was a nice cool walk on the way up. By 3:00 on the way down, it was pretty hot. It’s one of the prettiest hikes we’ve taken. People were being very considerate of “social distancing” and pulling off the trail to let others pass safely. I highly recommend it.

greg becker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 14, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

Hike was awesome! Not very hard and spectacular views. Lower end of lake had a terrible smell. A dead elk in the water was the main culprit. Campsites all full at mid day.

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