Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail


  • Kiosk at the Iron Creek Trailhead.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Iron Creek blur.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • The wilderness boundary is about a mile from the Iron Creek Trailhead.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Junction sign at the Alpine Way/Sawtooth Lake junction.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Iron Creek at the Alpine Way and Sawtooth Lake junction.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • The trail leaves Iron Creek and climbs onto a glacial moraine between Iron and Goat Creeks.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Views of Peak 10,084 (middle) from the unofficial trail to Goat Lake.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Hikers can scramble to a granite overlook in order to get a view of the Goat Creek Falls.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Goat Creek Lake on July 2. Thompson Peak stands in the notch center left of the photo.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Enjoying a snowfield above Goat Lake. The town of Stanley can be seen in the valley far below.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Frozen surface of Goat Lake in early July.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • Another view of a snow free Goat Lake in September.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
  • The granite wall above Goat Lake may hold some technical rock climbs.- Goat Lake via the Alpine Way Trail
Overview + Weather
Goat Falls. Stunning alpine lake. Moderate length. Glaciated canyon.
Popular route. Steep. Exposed trail to lake. Mosquitos. Trail not maintained.
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,694.00 ft (516.33 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.60 mi (12.23 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,710.00 ft (2,045.21 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description


Goat Lake is accessed from the Alpine Way Trail by hikers heading south from Iron Creek to Fishook Creek. At the first trail Junction, the Alpine Lake adventure heads to the right (north).

Goat Lake

Goat Lake is perched at the end of a 2.5-mile north-facing alpine basin tucked behind Williams and Thompson Peaks. An impressive waterfall, visible from Highway 75, cascades down the outlet creek. The north face of Merrit Peak rises 1,700 feet directly above the southwestern shore. Needless to say, it is an impressive place. 

Goat Lake is most commonly accessed from Iron Creek Trailhead. Walk the first mile to the Sawtooth Lake/Alpine Way. Turn left and cross Iron Creek on several logs that broach trees on either bank. For the next 1.8 miles the trail climbs onto, traverses, and then descends the large moraine between Iron Creek and Goat Creek. At the first switchback on the descent look for a spur (headed right) that leads to Goat Lake.

NOTE: The spur to Goat Lake is not maintained by the Forest Service and crosses steep, exposed terrain to reach the lake.

Additional Adventures

Hiking beyond Goat Lake is strictly off-trail terrain into a long, stair-stepped and glacially carved alpine basin.  The Alpine Way Trail continues south to Fishook Creek, but most do Goat Lake as an there-and-back adventure.

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 and well disguised in a cat hole that is 6 to 8 inches deep.  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.

Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring the Sawtooths - A Comprehensive Guide 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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