Bellas Lakes

Pioneer Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Bellas Lakes

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  • Trailhead information sign at Bellas Lakes.- Bellas Lakes
  • Within the first mile or so you will encounter aspens that turn yellow and orange in the fall.- Bellas Lakes
  • Balancing on a log across Bellas Creek.- Bellas Lakes
  • Balancing on a log across Bellas Creek.- Bellas Lakes
  • The trail passes through stretches of open terrain.- Bellas Lakes
  • False hellebore, or corn lily (Caltha leptosepala).- Bellas Lakes
  • Looking into the Bellas Lake Basin from a ridge south of the canyon. Altair Peak (11,825 feet) is on the left and Pyramid Peak (11,628 feet) is on the right.- Bellas Lakes
  • The impressive east ridge and east face of Altair Peak.- Bellas Lakes
  • Looking down Bellas Canyon to the Copper Basin and across at the Lost River Range.- Bellas Lakes
  • One of the last meadows before reaching Bellas Lakes can be full of pretty wildflowers earlier in the summer.- Bellas Lakes
  • The forest in the upper basin of the Bellas Lakes drainage has been hit hard by a pine beetle epidemic.- Bellas Lakes
  • The forest in the upper basin of the Bellas Lakes drainage has been hit hard by a pine beetle epidemic.- Bellas Lakes
  • Sunset over the lower Bellas Lake.- Bellas Lakes
  • Camp at night.- Bellas Lakes
  • The sun climbs above a thick layer of wildfire smoke that settleed overnight. The view is looking down the southeast ridge of Pyramid Peak from the summit.- Bellas Lakes
  • Smoke tinted sunrise.- Bellas Lakes
  • Smoke-filtered alpenglow on the east face of Altair Peak.- Bellas Lakes
  • Looking across granite ridgelines from the upper slopes of Pyramid Peak.- Bellas Lakes
  • A morning reflection in one of the upper Bellas Lakes.- Bellas Lakes
  • The smoke moves in, bringing detail between rideglines above Bellas Lakes.- Bellas Lakes
  • Jumping rocks in the alpine basin to the west of the lower Bellas Lake.- Bellas Lakes
  • Colorful aspens highlight the descent to the car.- Bellas Lakes
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Short hike is a good option for young kids. Beautiful granite basin. Wildflower meadows.
Cons: 
Extensive beetle infestation. Not as scenic as neighboring Broad Canyon.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,630.00 ft (496.82 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,840.00 ft (2,389.63 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Bellas Canyon Trailhead is on the Copper Basin Road 1.7 miles north of the Broad Canyon turnoff. It’s hard to compete with the neighboring Broad Canyon for scenic appeal, as Bellas Canyon is just a notch lower on the “wow” scale.  The 3-mile trail is more manageable and still offers beautiful views of the sheer east wall of Altair Peak. The Bellas Lakes hike is a great option for a shorter backpack or day hike with younger kids.

The trail follows the tumbling Bellas Creek briefly before climbing into the trees on the north side of the canyon. The first creek crossing is a good mileage reference 0.9 miles into the hike. On the south side, the trail crosses the first of three sloping meadows. The second offers views of the vertical east wall of Altair Peak and harbors a large patch of false hellebore. Continue through another half-mile of forest before opening into the third meadow beneath Point 9,986 on the canyon's south ridge.

The trail crosses the creek and climbs through several quick switchbacks before traversing back toward the top of a small waterfall. It crosses a fourth hanging meadow with great views of the granite walls that ring the head of the canyon. Beautiful mid-summer wildflowers complement the dramatic scenery. It’s a short jaunt from here to the largest Bellas Lake.

Additional Adventures

As mentioned above, the Broad Canyon Trailhead is just a short distance to the south of Bellas Canyon. It is a longer hiker, but generally a bit more scenic than Bellas Lakes. There are additional trailheads in Copper Basin, including the trail to Bear Canyon and the ATV trail to Lake Creek Lakes.

Off-Trail Hiking

From the lower Bellas Lake it is a fairly straightforward scramble to gain the ridge due south to a saddle west of Point 9,986. From here hikers can follow the southeast ridge of Altair Peak until it becomes too technical.  It is possible to find a steep descent to the Jarvis Trail in Broad Canyon and spend a day exploring Betty and Goat Lakes before climbing back up and over to Bellas Lakes.

Another popular peak climb is to scramble up the south face/southeast ridge of Pyramic Peak. This is a straightforward Class 2 to Class 3 jaunt.

Technical Climbing

The impressive granite east face of Altair Peak has the potential to yield some challenging routes. The main southeast ridge could offer an easier Class 5 route to the summit of Altair Peak. In Howell Canyon just north of Bellas there is the impressive East Face of Pyramid Peak that offers some sheer walls for exploration.

Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring Sun Valley - A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer, and Smoky Mountains by Idaho River Publications.

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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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