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Ship Island Lake Trail

MODERATE 10 reviews
#3 of 17 trails in

Ship Island Lake Trail is a 20.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Cobalt, Idaho that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

Distance: 20.4 miles Elevation Gain: 6,348 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

bird watching

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Well known, large beautiful lake deep in the Bighorn Crags Ship Island Lake, the largest lake in the Crags area is a popular destination due in part to the great scenery on the way to and from and because of the beauty of the lake itself. Good fishing, big game and rugged mountain beauty combine to make this a photographers dream.

backpacking
3 months ago

amazing place. a bit hard to get to and its very rocky both driving there and hiking the path. ship lake was amazing. i did get in the water and these little leach things would attach to me so be cautious. hike was a bit hard with gear and all so i would say make these bare minimum 2 days. i took about 3 days. loved it.

hiking
3 months ago

Incredible trip! The views the entire hike in are unreal. There were 9 of us that went in for 4 days. All between the ages if 25-45 with decades of experience hiking. This was a very tough hike to accomplish in one day. We left the trailhead at 12:30 after leaving Boise around 6am. The last 15-20 miles of dirt road is very rough. We popped a tire on one of our vehicles so it's recommended that you have a full spare and supplies on hand. We arrived at Ship Island around 8:30pm with minimal stops. I understand that it says its 10.2 miles but we clocked it on 4 different devices. Watch, GPS, Topographical app and Garmin and we came up with 11.87 all the way up to 13.1 miles. You will notice signs along the way that say how much longer to Ship Island with a question mark..... so my guess is, people have debated for a while the true distance. Bill bird lake which is roughly 2/3 of the way in is the first real water source unless you divert a half mile off to Wilson lake to get water so pack LOTS of water! If you don't get an early start in the day, or you aren't in the best physical shape, I would recommend going to Wilson lake on day 1 before going all the way in to Ship Island. On the way out, we went to Wilson lake to make our last day a little easier. Fishing and view was incredible at Wilson lake. We didn't experience any bugs and we didn't see a soul until we were walking out. Ship Island: The best camping spots are on a trail to the right/north side of the lake. There are two great spots about a quarter and half mile around. Water front and the 2nd spot is directly across from the island which we swam out to. You can also walk out to the Island from the south side of the lake. A must see is the waterfall at the west end of Ship Island. It's about 300 yards down the rock slab. You can cross the creek and hike down to the waterfall. We went down and went in the cave under the waterfall. Make sure you hike up the ridge on the west side of the lake to get a breathtaking view of the crags. We saw lots of wild life. Wolf, deer, elk and bighorn sheep. Really amazing! Fishing was incredible at Wilson, Ship Island and Birdbill lake. I've hiked all over Idaho over the last 25 years and I would rank this in my top 3 of all time!

hiking
4 months ago

This is a wonderful trail. Well planned out with lots of beautiful scenery the whole way to Ship Island Lake. Gorgeous country and I recommend it. even worth the long drive... :-)

backpacking
Sun Jul 30 2017

It was an amazing time spending 6 days out there. Well groomed trail amazing camping spots. They hike was rough getting in a lot of hills and packing for 6 days made it difficult but well worth it

Thu May 11 2017

Amazing scenery the whole time. Fishing is decent, Not for beginners.

backpacking
Sun Aug 21 2016

Amazing hike and views. Do not pass up the opportunity to take this hike. some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the state. Great fishing in every lake we tried too.

camping
Mon Apr 18 2016

First things first. Make sure you have a spare, there is a lot of dirt road to the TH. We needed it. It is a rough go the last 10 miles or so in the car. On to the hike. Possibly the best backpacking tip yet. I did this hike with a few other guys ranging in age from upper 30s to low 50s. We took 2 days in and 2 days out, setting up a base camp at Bill bird and Gentian lakes. We had a very late start at the TH (starting sometime after midnight, due to car, and tire issues). Ship island lake was like a post card, the pictures don't do it justice. We crossed paths with one couple on their way out from the end of Ship Island, as we broke camp near the trail split to Cathedral lake. One of them looked just beat, and the other just tired. That is a long haul if you are not in shape. My group set up a base camp near Bill Bird, and Gentian. We then did day hikes out to different basins Ship Island was the favorite trip due to the view, and the fishing in Ship Island, an Airplane lake which we hit on the way back to camp. Another day we hiked over to Big Clear lake and several others in that area.Fish were caught in all lakes, using flies, spinners, spoons, or jigs. Ship Island was the best fishing, and likely held larger fish, although we did not catch much over 10-12 inches. Still alot of fun though. We chose not to hike to the end of Ship island to view the cascade into the Salmon river, but were told that it is phenomenal. Maybe next time. on the way back out we stopped near Cathedral again, and fished there. It is a bog, full of mosquitoes, and only fair fishing. We met beautiful weather for the most part, only slight sprinkles during the day on occasion. On night we did have severe winds, thunder, lightning, and decent rain fall you could hear the wind gushing down the mountain side, and then it would hit you several seconds later. Spending the first night in my hammock and tarp during a storm of such size was a little nerve wracking. My trip was late July, and we encountered a fairly large patch of snow that needed to be crossed while descending the switchbacks near Harbor and Wilson lakes, going toward Bill Bird. I would recommend this trip. Just know that you are going to be doing a lot of smaller elevation changes along the way. We also met 2 groups of forest service rangers while on the trip who were there to make sure the camp sites and trails were being maintained. They said that aluminum foil was the biggest problem typically, so please pack it out.

camping
Wed Dec 03 2014

Classic hike and lake in the Idaho Bighorn Crags. One day for the the stout. Two days for the more casual cruiser. Carry plenty of water. There is a camp host and a water pump at Crags CG. You will be ridge hopping for the first 7 miles until you get to Genitan and Bird Bill Lakes. Dead Horse pass at Fish Fish Ridge has a set of harry switchbacks. The 2nd half is easy up and mostly down hiking. Airplane lake is a large beautiful lake on the way. Ship Island Lake is a 1.5 mile tarn lake surrounded by steep crags with goat slides. Ship Island Creek literally "dumps" into the Salmon River (Impassable). Really fun 6-8' erratic cubelike boulders sitting on a large, slick, striated granite dome at the outlet. Waterfall too. Fly fishing was superb! Rainbows, Cut Throat and California Goldens! I didn't land any fish of real size, probably due to high altitude and rocky bottomed glacier lake (not to say that they aren't in there). Yet, I caught all the pan sized fish you could want. I carry a backpacker's float tube and super light fins. The fish were nearly jumping in my tube. Goldens really put up a good fight. Camping is on the right. There were boy scouts at Airplane Lake but we saw no others for two days until a group of horse packers came in. I was amazed that they actually rode their horses down the switchbacks at dead horse pass. The wife of the group had enough sense to walk hers down:). There are some short day hikes to smaller lakes. It would be easy to set up a 5 to 10 day trip to a lot of gorgeous high mountain lakes in the immediate area. On the way out we skipped over to Harbor Lake. Make sure your tires are in good shape. We popped a tire on the way out on the granite based dirt roads that go for 55 miles.

hiking
2 months ago

Sun Aug 21 2016