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Alpine Creek Canyon

Sawtooth Wildernewss

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Alpine Creek Canyon

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  • Alpine Creek tumbles over boulders mid-way up the canyon.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Alpine Creek provides welcome relief along the trail.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • A hiker descends the trail down Alpine Canyon with Perfect Peak (10,269') towering behind.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Alpine Canyon Trail winding through lodgepole pines.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Rock Fringe (Epilobium angustifolium) decorates rock crevices in the alpine basins.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Lake 8522, also known as South Alpine Lake, Casper Lake, or Leah Lake, is reached by an un-official user trail.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Looking down onto the string of unnamed lakes at 9,000 feet in the southern lobe of Alpine Creek Canyon.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • High alpine snowfields.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • The upper South Alpine Lake (8,722').- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • A backpacker cools off in the upper South Alpine Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Another unnamed lake in the northern lobe of the Alpine Creek Canyon.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • A backpacker passes one of many lakes in the Alpine Canyon cirques.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Pretty flowers decorate the small alpine creeks that tumble down the basins.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Following the unmaintained trail up the northern lobe of Alpine Creek Canyon.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata).- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Hiking among slender paintbrush (Castilleja gracillima) above 9,000 feet in the north lobe of Alpine Creek Canyon.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Skirting the shores of Lake 9167, also known as North Alpine Lake.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • One of several unnamed lakes in the Alpine Creek basin.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • North Alpine Lake beneath the stunning backdrop of Perfect Peak (10,269').- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Showy daisy or fleabane (Erigeron speciosus) carpet the alpine meadows in August.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Climbing to the pass with the Flytrip Lake Basin above North Alpine Lake.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Mountain goats populate the cliffs and meadows of the Alpine Creek Cirques.- Alpine Creek Canyon
  • Snow in the pass above North Alpine Lake.- Alpine Creek Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Lake swimming. Wildflowers. Cool granite terrain.
Cons: 
Unmaintained trails. Steep terrain.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
642.00 ft (195.68 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.20 mi (5.15 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,072.00 ft (2,155.55 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The trail up Alpine Creek begins at the Alturas Lake Creek trailhead which is also the jumping off point for the Eureka Gulch and Alturas Lake Canyon adventures which continue up the canyon after the turnoff to Alpine Creek.

Alpine Creek Canyon

The trail to Alpine Creek ends after 3.2 miles at the junction of the three major branches of the canyon. Along the way it passes through some beautiful open meadows that sit beneath the 2,500-foot north wall that is studded with towers. The early-season wildflowers along the trail are certainly a highlight. The hike climbs less than 700 feet and reaches a nice picnic spot along the creek halfway out of the canyon. This makes it a great hike for kids or an early-season option when the high country is covered in snow. Alpine Creek canyon is closed to all stock use.

Off Trail Hiking

The alpine basins at the head of the drainage hold some of the most convoluted terrain in the Sawtooths. Several glacial cirques hold 10 large alpine lakes, and the maze of narrow canyons and bowls carved in the granite bedrock contain 34 additional small lakes and ponds. The terrain is steep and presents route-finding difficulties for those not well versed in reading maps. Over the years, two unofficial trails have been established to lakes in the north and middle branches of the canyon. The more heavily-forested southern branch is seldom visited. There are three significant peaks to climb in the drainage (Snowyside, Perfect, and Peak 9,963) and numerous other ridge scrambles for those who enjoy that kind of suffering.

Wilderness Regulations

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 are not allowed in the Alpine Creek Drainage
• No stock allowed in the Alpine Creek Drainage
• No equine stock at Edith Lake.  ALL stock prohibited in the Goat Creek and Alpine Creek (Alturas Lake) drainages.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(15 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(90 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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