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.
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.
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.
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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