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.
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.
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