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Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake

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  • Kiosk at the Iron Creek Trailhead.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Iron Creek blur.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Trail sign at the Alpine Way/Iron Creek junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Looking onto Redfish Lake from the Alpine Way/Grand Mogul trail up Iron Creek from the Alpine Way/Sawtooth Lake junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Iron Creek slips beneath an unnamed granite wall.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • An open meadow offers some great views just beyond the Marshall Lake/Alpine Way junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot offers an early summer highlight just beyond the Alpine Lake junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • The Alpine way trail climbs through Douglas fir beyond the junction with the Alpine Lake Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Looking back at Peak 9445 from the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Granite cliffs above the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • An unknown flower growing among granite pebbles.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Looking up the east face of Mystery Mountain from a rare opening along the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Looking back at the Alpine Lake spires from the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Nuttal's Linanthus (Linanthus nuttallii).- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Small waterfall/stream crossing along the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Granite faces on the east face of Mystery Mountain.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Looking up the northeast face of Mystery Mountain from the Alpine Way Trail.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • The north side of Mystery Mountain.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Unidentified mushroom growing on a Douglas fir tree.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • The crossing of Stanley Lake Creek can prove wet during the spring runoff.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Wilderness permit box at the Alpine Way/Stanley Lake Trail junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Trail sign at the Stanley Lake Creek/Alpine Way junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Trail sign at the Stanley Lake Creek/Alpine Way junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • The view of Point 9118 from the meadows along Stanley Lake Creek.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Trail sign at the Stanley Lake trailhead near the Stanley Lake Campground.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • McGown Peak (right) and Mystery Mountain (left) near the Stanley Lake trailhead.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Mystery Mountain and McGown Peak from the wildflower meadows about 1 mile from the trailhead.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • An new, elevated trail crosses a meadow on the new Stanley Lake Trailhead connector.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Trail sign at the Elk Mountain/Stanley Lake Trail junction.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Stanley Lake/Elk Mountain Trailhead kiosk.- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
  • Stanley Lake/Elk Mountain Trailhead- Alpine Way Trail, Iron Creek to Stanley Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Access to high peaks. Remote area. Solitude. Opens early in the season.
Cons: 
Two creek crossings can be intimidating when hiking this trail in the spring and early summer.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,525.00 ft (464.82 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
8.30 mi (13.36 km)
Trail type: 
Shuttle
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,710.00 ft (2,045.21 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

This northern portion of the Alpine Way Trail is a nice option for early-season hikers who are frozen out of the higher lake basins. As a simple thru hike, it is slightly easier to go from Iron Creek to Stanley Lake (214 feet less vertical). The route stays in the trees for most of its length but does offer several nice views along the way. The trail provides excellent access to scrambles and exploration of the McGown massif and, depending on the objective, can be hiked from either end. Creek crossings can be an issue on this hike.

There are several worthy off-trail objectives in between Iron Creek and Stanley Lake that are easily accessed from the Alpine Way trail. The southeast face of McGown Peak (Class 3) and West Ridge of Mystery Mountain (Class 2) are nice moderate routes that start from the saddle between Crooked Cr. and Stanley Lake. For those looking for a more challenging scramble, the east ridge of Mystery above Point 8482 looks like interesting Class 4-5 terrain. Photographers looking for an outstanding view onto Alpine Lake can scramble the ridge west from the Crooked Creek/Iron Creek divide until they are stopped by the craggy spires.

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.
• Campfires are NOT allowed at some lakes and in some drainages in the Sawtooths. Please review the campfire restrictions at individual trailheads.
• 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

Most of the McGown massif is underlain by crumbly Idaho Batholith granite. There are a few crags on the southeast side of Mystery Mountain that look climbable. The prominent chimney and crack on the east face of McGown Peak may offer some technical rock and mixed ice climbs. Explore at your own risk! The north couloirs on McGown Peak offer some nice spring snow/ice climbs depending on the conditions and snowpack.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

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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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