Hike Redfish Lake to Alpine Lake

Redfish Inlet Trailhead

This is the epitome of a Sawtooth hike: scenic peaks and high mountain lakes, with beautiful trail with creeks and small waterfalls, crystal clear water and FRESH mountain air. An ideal backpacking destination.

Just south of the beautiful town of Stanley, Idaho lays one of coolest lakes in the region: Redfish Lake. Redfish is a banana shaped lake that boasts some of the most epic camping spots in all of Idaho. Using this area as home base, there's countless adventures within just a few miles. One of these adventures, the hike to Alpine Lake, starts just across the lake at the Redfish Inlet trailhead.

What makes this hike unique is that it starts with a boat shuttle across the 4.5 mile lake. Unless you want to hike the extra miles around the lake (no thanks), the friendly and super knowledgable Redfish guides will shuttle you across for a small fee. The feeling of leaving a busy shoreline on boat heading towards towering mountains and certain adventure makes for an exciting moment.

Once across the lake, pass through the inlet campground and sign a free wilderness permit before beginning the trek. The first three miles of the hike takes you through dazzling meadows (watch for wildlife!) and impressive rock gardens. The trail runs parallel with Redfish Lake Creek and at times it's possible to jet down a beaten path to the water to cool off. Small, crystal clear waterfalls can be found running around large rocks at these spots. You'll notice that the creek has nearly NO rocks at the bottom in certain areas. It's an interesting sight to see water running virtually effortlessly. ADVENTURE TIP: three miles into the hike is Flat Rock. Around this area there are spots where you can slide down the creek on your butt on smooth, worn rock.

At the Flat Rock junction, keep right and start the climb up to Alpine Lake. Only two miles separate you from the lake, but there are also 22 steep switchbacks. Be sure you've got enough water to get you to the top. Once you've gained a little bit of elevation you'll be able to see Redfish Lake back towards the northeast. PRO TIP: The very BEST view of the hike comes about 3/4 of the way up the switchbacks on a rock overlooking the valley in which you just hiked. Braxon Peak and Grand Mogul tower on either side of the creek and a dense blanket of trees covers the bottom half of both mountains.

Alpine Lake rests at 8,345' and the uber clear water makes it easy to see the logs and rocks resting on the bottom. For backpackers, the trail extends the circumference of the lake and there are plenty of sickie spots to camp. As always, please pack out what you pack in and respect any forest rehabilitation efforts in the area.

Pack List

  • Comfortable hiking footwear
  • Enough water for a full day of adventure
  • Swimsuit (or not, if that's your thing)
  • Camera!
  • Your hiking P.I.C.
  • Trail snacks
  • Reserve TP (because you never can be too sure)
  • Of course bring the whole enchilada if you plan on backpacking and staying the night at this stunner.
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RT Distance 11.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1800 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

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Amazeballz

Love this whole place. We usually set up base camp at flat rock junction and day hike alpine lake. You can also go left across the creek and start the hike to saddleback lakes. Be careful of the elevation, my friends and I ran down the switchbacks on the way back and one of them started puking and the other got a nasty bloody nose. One of the best playgrounds ever and that slickrock water slide can take a day to enjoy.

A Favorite

This hike is one of my favorites in the Sawtooths. The view of the valley between Heyburn and Grand Mogul is amazing and you can often be at Alpine Lake without anyone else around!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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