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Scott Kranz worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.

The Sawtooth Mountain Range is known as the crown jewel of Idaho. While this wilderness offers world-class experiences for all types and levels of adventurers, from hiking and backpacking to biking, climbing, and much more, there are countless opportunities for easier, more accessible hikes for any Sawtooth first-timers. Here are just a few to get you started.

Fishhook Creek

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Total  Distance: 5 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: Approximately 300 feet

Trailhead Coordinates: 44.14735, -114.91957

Why Hike It? A gentle yet scenic hike through a beautiful valley, culminating in stunning views of many Sawtooth peaks from a peaceful meadow.

woman hiking mountain trail fishhook creek
Fishhook Creek is all about scenic views. Photo Credit: Scott Kranz.

How to get there: Drive to Redfish Lake (just minutes south of Stanley), and park in the Redfish Trailhead lot north of the lake. From the parking lot, take the trail to the north (Fishhook Creek Trail 186), which almost immediately crosses over paved Forest Road 213 and curves to the west. Hike by beautiful sagebrush and aspen groves for about a quarter-mile, where you’ll reach a trail junction, but continue straight (westward) on the main Fishhook Creek Trail. Hike another quarter mile or so, and you’ll see another trail turnoff to the right for Marshall Lake, a separate trail. Once again, continue straight on the main Fishhook Creek Trail. The trail is often wide, very gentle, and very well-maintained, without a lot of rocks. In total, one way, you’ll hike about 2.5 miles until you reach the wilderness boundary and a scenic meadow with stunning views into the Sawtooth mountains. Reap the rewards of this gentle hike by taking in the beautiful vista before returning the way you came.

Marshall Ridge

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Total Distance: Approximately 2 miles one way (to gain Marshall  Ridge)

Elevation Gain: Approximately 700 feet

Trailhead Coordinates: 44.14735, -114.91957

Why Hike It? Hike among gorgeous wildflowers and aspen groves up to a ridgeline trail offering spectacular views of the Sawtooths.

mounting hiking trail marshall ridge
Wander among the wildflowers. Photo Credit: Scott Kranz.

How to get there: To hike to Marshall Ridge, you’ll use the same trailhead and same trail as the Fishhook Creek Trail. Take the Fishhook Creek Trail (Trail 186) for about a half-mile, until you see the sign for Marshall Lake, and follow this trail to the right. The trail gradually steepens as you climb up onto the ridge, passing through gorgeous wildflower fields and aspen groves. Enjoy sweeping vistas of the valley and the Sawtooth wilderness. From the ridge, you can simply turn around and go back the way you came; or if you prefer a longer hike, you can continue on the ridgeline trail in the direction of Marshall Lake and Thompson Peak.

Stanley Lake Trail / Lady Face Falls

Trail  Type: Out-and-back

Total Distance: Approximately 5 miles  round  trip

Elevation Gain: Approximately 250 feet

Trailhead Coordinates: 44.24729, -115.06579

Why Hike It? Hike through beautiful meadows with in-your-face views of majestic McGown Peak, with an option to visit a hidden waterfall, Lady Face Falls.

alpine mountain waterfall lady face falls
Treat yourself with a hike to a hidden waterfall. Photo Credit: Scott Kranz.

How to get there: Just west of Stanley rests the ever-beautiful Stanley Lake. Drive to the Stanley Lake Trailhead (be sure to sneak a quick peek of the lake on your way), just northwest of the lake. From the trailhead, hike a few hundred feet along Forest Road 649 until you see the main Stanley Lake Creek Trail (Trail 640), on which you’ll turn left. On this trail, you’ll hike on a well-maintained trail and boardwalks, with frequent views of iconic McGown Peak. You’ll see signage along the way but continue in the direction of Trail 640 or Bridal Veil Falls (which is a waterfall option farther than Lady Face Falls). After over 2 miles of hiking from the trailhead (one way), the trail will steepen slightly, and you’ll gain a few hundred feet of elevation. Once the trail flattens out again, you’ll see a small sign for Lady Face Falls at about 2.5 miles, where you’ll turn left and walk on a narrower boot trail for a few minutes until reaching a granite-walled gorge area. Partial views of the waterfall can be enjoyed safely from above. Take care on the sloping granite — be responsible, and be safe! Once you’re done enjoying the waterfall area, turn around and return the way you came.

Saddleback Lakes

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Total Distance: Approximately 7 miles round trip  (including a river crossing)

Elevation Gain: Approximately 2,000 feet

Trailhead Coordinates: 44.10007, -114.95286 (reached via boat shuttle across Redfish Lake)

Why Hike It? Enjoy a pristine alpine lake with stunning views of the iconic Elephant’s Perch.

alpine mountain lake saddleback lakes
Elephant’s Perch is the perfect spot for an alpine soak. Photo Credit: Scott Kranz.

How to get there: Start your adventure at Redfish Lake Marina, where you’ll pay for a boat shuttle across the length of Redfish Lake (saving several miles of hiking each way). The boat shuttle will drop you off at Redfish Inlet Trailhead, where you’ll continue on foot. Hike the Redfish Lake Creek Trail to the southwest for about 2 miles, where you’ll see a side trail to your left leading only about 100 feet to the main creek and a primitive log crossing. After safely assessing the conditions, carefully use the logs to cross the creek and join the trail on the other side. Hike this trail for more than a mile until you reach the first of three Saddleback Lakes. Continue on to the main (middle) lake, and enjoy stunning views of iconic Elephant’s Perch. Return the way you came.

Titus Lake (Galena Summit)

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Total Distance: Approximately 3.3 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: Approximately 650 feet

Trailhead Coordinates: 43.86720, -114.71261

Why Hike It? A  beautiful alpine lake with distinctly colored water. Easily accessible near Galena Summit.

alpine mountain lake titus lake
The Titus Lake hike offers stunning views on the way this alpine lake. Photo Credit: Scott Kranz.

How to get there: If you’re driving between the Sun Valley and Stanley areas on Highway 75, you can easily reach the Titus Lake Trailhead (8,000 feet elevation) south of Galena Summit. Park at the large pullout along the north side of the hairpin turn, and carefully cross the road (to the south) to the Titus Lake Trail. The trail meanders through open forest, with frequent ups and downs, providing a good workout despite the short distance of the hike. Enjoy landscape vistas to the east and south along the way, as well as beautiful wildflowers (during the mid-summer bloom). Once you arrive at the lake, take a dip in the unique bluish-green waters and soak up the views before returning the way you came.

Scott Kranz (@scott_kranz) is a full-time photographer based in Seattle, Washington, specializing in outdoor sports, lifestyle, landscapes, and travel photography and storytelling. Partnering with the world’s leading outdoor brands and destinations, Scott’s professional work includes hiking and alpine climbing in the Cascade, Sierra, Sawtooth, and Rocky mountain ranges; trekking in both the European and New Zealand Alps; canyoneering and mountain bike expeditions in the Southwest desert; and backcountry skiing among the active volcanoes of Japan.


Published on August 13, 2019