Redfish Lake Canyon

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Redfish Lake Canyon

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  • Redfish Lake dock.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Looking down onto Redfish Lake.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Grand Mogul ( 9,733') from the Bench Lakes Trail, a possible spur hike.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Hiking the Redfish Canyon.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Wildflowers in the few open meadows are a pleasant addition to the hike.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Crystal clear waters of Redfish Lake Creek- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Glacially sculpted granite towers line both sides of the canyon.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Granite boulder detail.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • The slab waterslide/falls at Saddleback Junction.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Water sculpted granite bedrock.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • A view of the backside of the Elephants Perch.- Redfish Lake Canyon
  • Looking down the classic U-shaped valley of Redfish Lake Creek Canyon.- Redfish Lake Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Stunning views. Glacially carved canyon. Waterfalls. Boat shuttle.
Cons: 
High traffic. Boat shuttle fee.
Region:
Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Moderate
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
Not Required
Total Distance: 
7.20 mi (11.59 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
6,580 ft (2,006 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
630 ft (192 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking, Horseback
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
Yes

Current Local Weather

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Today

Snow (1–3 in.) throughout the day.
22°F

Sat

Snow (4–7 in.) throughout the day.
20°F

Sun

Snow (2–5 in.) throughout the day.
17°F

Mon

Light snow (under 1 in.) in the morning and afternoon.
14°F
-10°

Tue

Light snow (under 1 in.) starting in the afternoon.
12°F
-20°

Wed

Partly cloudy throughout the day.
12°F
-24°

Thu

Partly cloudy starting in the evening.
19°F
-19°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

In just a little under 10 minutes, the shuttle boat across Redfish Lake deposits hikers at the mouth of the spectacular Redfish Creek Canyon. Trails from the boat dock lead up Redfish Canyon and along both sides of the lake. It is possible to take the shuttle to the inlet and hike back to Redfish Lodge (a different adventure), or to spend the day exploring the Redfish Lake Canyon and catch an afternoon boat back across the lake. Boat shuttles can be scheduled and paid for at the Redfish Boat Dock. The canyon itself is one of the most striking examples of a glacially carved U-shaped canyon in the Sawtooths!

A popular destination is the Garden of the Giants, a collection of giant boulders that have tumbled from high on the cliff walls above. The immense size of the boulders is quite impressive and it is possible to walk underneath the largest of the bunch. This area is also a popular destination for rock climbers who like to “boulder” up the face of the giant rocks.

Just 0.6 miles beyond the Garden of the Giants is the unmarked junction to Saddleback Lakes. Redfish Lake Creek pours over a glacially-polished red granite slab into a small swimming hole. This is a great destination later in summer when the water in the creek has dropped enough to fully enjoy this location. There are several good creekside camps in the area that are great options for a “first night out” trip with the kids.

The next junction further up the canyon also derives its name from smooth glacial polish in the bed of Redfish Lake Creek. There are several campsites near a natural waterslide just upstream of the junction with the Alpine Lake trail. Appropriately, it is called Flatrock Junction.

The Redfish Lake Canyon trail is a jumping off point for many other hikes including Alpine Lake, Saddleback Lake, and Cramer Lakes. It can also be the beginning of a number of multi-day backpack loops.

Most of the trail lies within the Sawtooth Wilderness. Please observe the following regulations:
• Mountain bikes are not allowed past the wilderness boundary.
• Self administered wilderness permits are required and available at the trailhead.
• Dogs must be on a leash between July 1 and Labor Day.
• Camp 100-feet from trails, lakes and streams.
• Pack out all garbage.
• Human waste should be buried in a cat hole 6-8 inches deep, buried and well disguised. Pack out all toilet paper.
• Campfires allowed ONLY in a backcountry pan or fire blanket.
• Permits required for all stock use in the wilderness. No grazing allowed in the Salmon River watershed (this includes the Alpine Lake drainage).
• No equine stock at Edith Lake. ALL stock prohibited in the Goat Creek and Alpine Creek (Alturas Lake) drainages.

Technical Climbing

The Redfish Lake Creek Canyon contains the highest concentration of documented climbs in the Sawtooths.  Beyond the Elephants Perch and other features above Saddleback Lakes, there are many formations along both sides of the valley that offer technical challenges.

There is not a published climbing guidebook to the Sawtooths. The Elephants Perch, a local climbing/outdoor shop in Ketchum, has an extensive collection of route images and climbing topos for perusal and sale. This guidebook aims to help climbers find the individual features. In classic Sawtooth tradition, however, climbers are on their own when it comes time to rack up and leave the ground.

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(72 within a 30 mile radius)

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Published in collaboration with Idaho River Publications

Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks.  Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho.  His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured.  Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure.  Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers.  Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.

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