Hike to Goat Lake, Idaho

Iron Creek Trailhead

Distance

6.8 Miles

Activities

Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Fitness

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

This hike is off the beaten path and leads to the largest waterfall in the Sawtooth Mountains and a beautiful alpine lake.

This moderate hike begins at Iron Creek Trailhead in the Sawtooth Mountains. Follow the trail through the forest and alongside Iron Creek. At 1.1 miles you will officially enter the Sawtooth Wilderness and soon after come to a marked junction. Turn left to follow Alpine Way Trail across Iron Creek. At 1.5 miles cross a bridge and then begin a steep 600-foot ascent. Although somewhat taxing, the widespread vistas and wildflowers will keep you captivated. The trail levels off at an elevation of 7,600 feet. Continue on through the forest to another junction at 2.9 miles. Take the right path and walk along a hillside until the path nearly disappears north of Goat Falls (3.3 miles). Be sure to take a short detour down a 100-foot path to get the best view of the spectacular falls. 

To continue on to Goat Lake, look south for an angled, scree-covered granite slab. Scramble up the slab to an unmaintained path leading to the lake, directly west of the falls. It is about 600 feet elevation gain to Goat Lake, but the view is definitely worth it! A hidden gem of the Sawtooths.

Community Photos

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Gotta backpack it and spend the night...

We read a lot of reviews and guides for this hike before leaving because everything was so conflicting. (IT IS DEFINITELY MORE THAN 6.8 MILES!! Probably more around 8-10 round trip) The last mile of the hike is definitely the most difficult part. There's a good section of steep gravel leading up to the first waterfall overlook. When you get to the rock wall on your right if you continue walking the base of the wall you will find the more staircase type section that is easier to go up, and that will be the start of the steepest part of the hike. Once you get to the waterfall overlook it is easy to miss the easier trail leading through the woods, so on the way up we went through the rock field. You can definitely avoid this by trying to stay as far to the left following up the waterfall and then you will find a beaver dam to cross above the falls. In that section there are a few times that it will look like the trail has ended but it hasn't, just keep pushing along and there are multiple different ways through the trees. Once you get to the falls you are pretty close so if you've made it that far, keep pushing on because it's definitely worth making that last little climb. We went on a weekend and backpacked in, there were definitely a good amount of people camping up there so it was a bit "crowded" but mainly because there are only about 5-7 different spots along the lake to set up camp. We tried following the path along the lake to get our own private area but encountered others along the way that said they didn't see anywhere to set up down on the SE corner of the lake. By that time our packs were heavy so we headed back to the main area and grabbed a spot on higher ground which was still really great. A few people were fishing and we saw some small trout in the lake. We got in for a swim and some guys were jumping off one of the higher rock areas but the water was quite cold as to be expected. Great get away, my little corgi like dog made the hike and loved it, but he is like a little mountain goat. There were a couple areas on the trail up at the top, following the lake where we had to pass him because his short little legs couldn't make the jump, but the rest of the way up he made it up on his own. I was a little wary of bringing him because of some things that I read, but he is spry and good at climbing so he did well. Bigger dogs that love hiking should do just fine, and little dogs that love hiking might need a hand here and there but can make it as long as they are tough.

Strenuous but worth it

When you turn left just after entering Sawtooth Wilderness, you'll head the direction that says to go to Marshall Lake. It doesn't say Alpine Way, so we were a bit confused at first. The scramble up to the lake is tough; I would say that part alone took us 45 minutes to an hour. We visited in June and only encountered three other groups of people! Overall I recommend the hike but I would have mentally prepared myself better had I known how difficult the last part would be.

Great fishing

The fish up here are always hungry so you can catch them virtually every cast. Me and some buddies caught about one fish every minute. Also awesome view and I'm pretty sure there is a shorter way up to goat lake than listed.

Distance

6.8 Miles

Activities

Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Fitness

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike to Sawtooth Lake

Adventure

Backpack to Sawtooth Lake

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Photograph the Sawtooth Mountains

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Photograph McGowan Peak & Stanley Lake at Sunrise

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