Backpack to Through Surprise Valley to Lake 10148

Idaho Fall Creek Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    13 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2900 Feet

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Trek through legendary Surprise Valley to a remote lake at the foot of Standhope Peak. The terrain varies from sagebrush desert to alpine meadow to craggy granite peaks.

I have a hard time getting the word "legendary" out of my mind when referencing this hike. I liked it that much.

The trailhead begins at 7200'; be prepared to drive 20 miles on a maintained gravel road to get there. The first 3 miles of this out-and-back hike are pretty flat, meandering through a sage, desert terrain. Once you arrive to the fork that splits off to Moose lake, the fun (ascent) begins.

Stay left at the fork 3 miles in, it is well marked and the sign indicates "Surprise Valley". Two miles of steep ascent to Surprise Valley will reward you with immersion in the alpine valley meadows and jagged peaks.

In the valley, you'll hike right by a stagnant lake. After this small lake, the trail fades but the destination is clear. You can see a few miles ahead exactly where Lake 10148 lies up on the ridge. Essentially take the most direct route you can, following the sparse cairns as guides. My only piece of advice would be that you stay to the left (east) side of the river for an easier traverse of the valley.

The valley ascends once more to the base of Standhope Peak and Lake 10148 (it's elevation). There aren't any fish in this lake, but you trade that for absolute solitude. You shouldn't encounter too many backpackers up at this lake since the trail fades and it is more of a difficult hike.

For detailed terrain and hike statistics, please see this Caltopo map.

Pack List

  • Tent 
  • Sleeping Bag/pad
  • High top hiking shoes
  • Layers
  • Water filtration
  • Backpacker's stove
  • Trekking poles for steep ascents/descents 
  • Book 
  • Snacks including fruit leather, clif bars, hot chocolate
  • Water
  • Bathing Suit 
  • Camera 
  • Dog (be sure to bring footies as trail is pretty rocky)
  • Hammock 
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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Started our hike at 8:15 in the morning and made it back to the car at 3:30 in the afternoon. My only piece of advice is when you pass the first stagnant lake you stay far left and find and follow the rock stacks. We stayed close to the river and walked the the swampy and uneven grass. It was great hike and very rewarded finally making it up to the lake.

about 1 month ago
about 1 month ago

Garren Moore

Programming by week, mountains by weekend.

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