Backpack to Trail Creek Lakes

Rate this Adventure Idaho Grandjean Trailhead

Added by Garren Moore

Enjoy a steep hike up a cascading mountain stream to a series of secluded mountain lakes.

Based in Grandjean, one of the lesser utilized access points to the Sawtooth mountains, this trailhead is one of the most accessible in the range. A short trek on a dirt road, smooth for even Prius standards, off the highway is the gateway to mountainous adventure.

The hike starts at 5200' above sea level at the Grandjean campground, where there is befittingly "backpacker parking" so you don't have to pay camping fees. The unmistakable trailhead starts at the campground itself, but don't forget to sign the (free) permit.

Over the course of 5.5 miles ascends to 8100' along Trail Creek eventually to Trail Creek Lakes. There are three or four instances where you'll have to cross the Trail Creek - a creek that can roar down the side of the mountain the right conditions. I would recommend an extra pair of socks and Chacos for the camp site as your feet are likely, but not guaranteed, to get wet. The trail is generally marked clear, but we did have an issue where the map (recently purchased in Stanley) indicated the trail to go in a different direction. Trust the trail, as it is well trodden, to take you in the right direction.

Once arriving to the first lake, you'll hear a waterfall on the far side. The best spot for making camp is on the north/northeast side of the lake.

The area along the trail experienced a fire a few years ago, so there are spotty areas where pine trees would normally flourish. However, the undergrowth has come back strong and has provided some of the best wildflowers that I've hiked through in the Sawtooths. This is a good reminder to use a fire pan, or better...don't light a campfire at all.

Pack List

  • Tent 
  • Sleeping Bag 
  • Sleeping Pad  
  • Fishing Pole 
  • Water filtration system (UV stick recommended since this water is SO GOOD) 
  • Gore-tex hiking shoes/boots 
  • Extra pair of socks/shoes for the unlucky creek crossers 
  • Trekking Poles 
  • Fleece and other layers for the chilly nights 
  • Dog (on leash July 1 - Labor Day) 
  • Bear spray 
  • Friends 
  • Wilderness permit (free)
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Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking

Skill Level:




Trail Type:



11 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2900 Feet


Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

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Added by Garren Moore

Programming by week, mountains by weekend.

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