Here are a few lists of the best trails to visit near Redfish Lake Lodge in June. This is only advice, so please consult a map and travel prepared. Do not underestimate the mountain environment. The backcountry can be cruel and uninviting for the unprepared, especially in the early season, when daytime temperature are warm but nighttime temperatures often dip below freezing. At the very least, always carry a map and layers for rapidly changing weather, as well as a knife, flashlight, fire source, and food/water supply for emergencies. You can find maps, snacks, and many other supplies in the Redfish Lake Lodge General Store.
TRAILS FOR WILDLIFE & VIEWS
Fishhook Creek Trail
(Easy – Redfish Lake Trailhead)
A short hike through beetle-kill burdened forest and beautiful wet, grassland that surrounds Fishhook Creek as it winds its way to stunning mountain views at wide-open Fishhook Creek Meadow, otherwise known as “The Beaver Ponds” for the set of small ponds dotted with beaver lodges which fill the area. Enjoy this easy hike for wildflowers, animal sightings, and great pictures of towering Horstmann Peak, and others.
Redfish Lake Inlet Trail
(Moderate – Redfish Inlet Trailhead)
Climb along Redfish Lake Creek as it drops past you in its own little canyon, carving a path for you between jagged Sawtooth Peaks. You’ll be up close and personal with the foot of Mount Heyburn on your right and Grand Mogul on your left, passing by several others too, as you wander further into the wilderness. Eventually, you’ll catch sight of the Idaho’s famous Elephant’s Perch, where climbers ascend over 1000 vertical feet across their choice of 30 different climbing routes (often later in the season). Watch the mountains unfold before you as you keep your eyes peeled for Mountain Goats (& Climbers) high on the rock walls above.
Bench Lakes Trail
(Moderate – Redfish Inlet or Redfish Lake Trailhead)
Enjoy amazing views from the ridges high above Redfish Lake as you climb the trail to the Bench Lakes. This set of 5 lakes (2 reached by trail) is beautifully situated at the base of Mount Heyburn and other Sawtooth peaks. The basin is an excellent spot for picture taking, providing reflective views of mountain summits across glassy, calm waters. The area is frequented by Deer, Elk, and other wildlife, so keep your camera ready.
Hell Roaring Lake Trail
(Easy + Long – Hell Roaring Lake Trailhead)
Hell Roaring Lake is a calm and magnificent example of Sawtooth Mountain scenery. The iconic Finger of Fate dominates the mountain faces above the lake, while the rush of one of the distant waterfalls which feed the lake reminds you that you’re somewhere much bigger than you realize. The trail crosses a log bridge at the mouth of the lake, which makes for excellent photos against a famous Sawtooth back drop. It’s lower elevation tends to make it more accessible earlier in the season, so be sure to check this spot out.
TRAILS FOR WATERFALLS
Goat Falls Trail
(Moderate/Strenuous – Iron Creek Trailhead)
Goat Falls is the largest waterfall in the Sawtooths and can be seen from the highway while at various points while passing through the town of Stanley. The falls, which is actually far more extensive than is visible by the single water drop, spills from Goat Lake, a rocky bowl which sits to the northwest of Williams and Thompson Peaks. Hikers can find access to the base of the falls and views of a few others via a moderate to strenuous, but beautiful, trail which hugs the mountainside. Be sure to take a map and be careful, as some parts of this well-worn trail are not officially marked and maintained.
Lady Face & Bridal Veil Falls
(Moderate – Stanley Lake Trailhead)
From Stanley Lake and its picture-perfect views of McGowan Peak, hikers can hop on the trail and gradually ascend to a set of waterfalls which is raging with snow melt in June. The first along the trail, Lady Face Falls, offers up close and personal views of churning water as it flows through the small creek canyon. Climbing the trail further provides views of the more distant and dramatic Bridal Veil Falls. Adventurous individuals can climb even closer to this waterfall, however this can often be more treacherous early in the season, so beware and always carry a map.
Marshall Lake Trail
(Moderate/Strenuous – Redfish Lake Trailhead)
This hike begins by following the mellow Fishhook Creek Trail, but rapidly climbs as you follow the sign turning you right up (& down again) to Marshall Lake. The effort is rewarded atop the Marshall Ridgeline, which locals know as one of the most picturesque places in all of the Sawtooths. Follow this ridge for over a mile with Fishhook Creek below and wide-open mountain scenery ahead and behind, then weave back into the forest before descending to a small, marshy lake which feels trapped in a bubble. Enjoy early-season views of melting snow cascading down mountain walls and into the lake as many small waterfalls and listen for wildlife.
Lily Pond + Waterfall Trail
(Moderate + Short – Redfish Inlet Trailhead)
This short, but sometimes steep, trail climbs quickly to a small lake which, later in the summer, fills with lovely lilies and their pads. Mount Heyburn reflecting over the blooming water is always a beautiful scene. Continuing along the trail around the left side of the lake leads to another short climb, after which you’ll begin to hear the roar of Redfish Lake Creek falling through the canyon, of its own creation, nearby. Follow the path to great viewpoints and a rushing waterfall which plunges into the top of the canyon. Be very careful on super slick rocks and prepare to get wet. This is awesome!
TRAILS TO SNOWY BEAUTIES
The trails listed below lead to lakes or destinations which may be surrounded by a considerable amount of snow in the early summer season. Please be very careful to analyze your knowledge and experience when evaluating decisions to travel in more risky and dangerous terrain. Always hike with a friend and let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back. Prior to embarking on any of the hikes listed below in early season, groups should contact the Stanley Ranger Station or knowledgeable local resources to determine trail conditions and/or hazards.
Sawtooth Lake Trail
(Moderate – Iron Creek Trailhead)
Sawtooth Lake, with Mount Regan towering over its southern half, has been pictured on dozens of book covers and postcards because of its superb beauty. This draws hikers from across the world to this natural wonder, but you can beat the groups and find unique photos filled with rippled ice sheets and aquamarine icebergs by strategically wandering along the snowy trail. Stop by Alpine Lake for a private spot, which may be more hospitable.
Alice Lake Trail
(Moderate + Long – Petit Lake/Tin Cup Trailhead)
Alice Lake is the first (or last) stop along the famous Tin Cup Hiker’s Loop, which connects Alice and Toxaway Lakes with several others by crossing over Snowyside Pass. It is beautifully surrounded by an extraordinary set of peaks that Margaret Fuller described as a “dragon’s back.” While it may be too early to climb over the pass (without technical gear), you may still find yourself able to take in the view of El Capitan across the blue and slushy lake. There are many creek crossings, and water will be high, so wade carefully if you dare. Also keep in mind that this can be a long hike, so be careful in choosing this route in early season.
Alpine Lake Trail
(Moderate/Strenuous – Redfish Inlet Trailhead)
Following the Redfish Lake Inlet Trail to a fork called Flat Rock Junction, you’ll begin your ascent to Alpine Lake by following the sign pointing you to the right. This trail climbs rather dramatically, but does it over the course of a dizzying number of switchbacks. You’ll find yourself wishing you’d counted, but glad you didn’t, by the end. All along the trail, you’ll soak in amazing views of the surrounding territory, before climbing over the hump into the Alpine Lake basin. Early in the season, you’ll find yourself hopping over and between small drainage creeks as they find their way down from above, into the lake and its outlet. This area is a great viewing spot for unique birds and other wildlife.
Cramer Lakes Trail
(Moderate – Redfish Inlet Trailhead)
The Cramer Lakes are a set of three: Lower, Middle, and Upper. This family combines for one of the most beautiful locations in the Sawtooth Mountains. A moderate, but long hike leads up Redfish Lake Inlet Trail and across Redfish Lake Creek to begin climbing to the Cramer Lake Basin. The small, marshy Lower Lake may be overblown with flooding depending on snow pack, so areas of the trail may be submerged, snowy, or even icy. There is a phenomenal waterfall located between the Upper and Middle Lakes, which flows heavily with melting snow during this season, so have your camera prepared for the photo opportunity. You’ll hear it coming.