Johnstone Creek Hike

Pioneer Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

Start Exploring
Johnstone Creek Hike


  • Johnstone Creek Trailhead sign.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • The lower portion of Johnstone Creek climbs through a narrow volcanic canyon in a dense Douglas fir forest.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • After 3 miles the trail finally reaches some open ridges, and the views of the greater Pioneer Peaks begin to come into view.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • As the trail wraps around open ridges an incredible panoramic view of the Pioneers unfolds.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • From left to right: Duncan Ridge, Hyndman Peak, Old Hyndman, and Cobb Peak.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • Eventually the trail traverses into the Corral Creek drainage and passes by the north face of Johnstone Peak where it connects to the Pioneer Cabin Trail.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • The broad open saddle at the end of the Pioneer Cabin Trail.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • The Pioneer Cabin and outstanding views await hikers who go all the way to the cabin.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • The windows may be dirty, but the views unbeatable.- Johnstone Creek Hike
  • A mellow ridgeline extends in both directions from the Pioneer Cabin for hikers who want to look for an alternate view.- Johnstone Creek Hike
Overview + Weather
Shaded canyon. Low crowds. Stunning high peaks. Loop options.
Can feel confined. Loose traversing in places.
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,317.00 ft (706.22 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
10.20 mi (16.42 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,750.00 ft (2,057.40 m)
Current Local Weather:
Published in collaboration with
Hike Description

Hike Description


The narrow canyon of Johnstone Creek is a pleasant hike through shaded forest and colorful, volcanic terrain. The creek crossings host a variety of wildflowers late in the season. The meadows above 8,400 feet support a healthy population of penstemon and lupine in mid-summer. The stunning views of the Pioneers as you round Point 8,600 are a worthy destination. 

From the trailhead, follow a side-hill trail above a beaver pond before dropping into the valley bottom. Pass through a nice aspen grove and climb several steep switchbacks to a rising traverse up the left side of the canyon. The underlying volcanic rock forms steep and narrow terrain that can feel a bit confined as you climb higher.

Eventually hikers pass an old cabin foundation in the trees before emerging into open meadows above 8,200 feet. The trail contours east to Point 8,600 where hikers are greeted with expansive views of the Pioneer Mountains. The final mile of the Johnstone Trail crosses several steep gullies of loose volcanic rock before joining the Pioneer Cabin Trail.

Additional Adventures

The Johnstone Creek Trail connects into the Pioneer Cabin Trail and is an alternate way to access this popular destination.  Another options is to shuttle a car to the North Fork of Hyndman Trailhead for a great 10.4-mile loop to Pioneer Cabin and down the North Fork Trail to your waiting car.

Mountain Biking

It is possible to mountain bike up Johnstone Creek, but expect lots of steep and technical riding along with several hike-a-bike sections along the way. Most people will descend Johnstone Creek after riding their bikes up the Pioneer Cabin Trail.

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

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Published in collaboration with
Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(33 within a 30 mile radius)

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
5 Members
Who's Done It
2 Members
Submission by
103 Adventures Explored
103 Adventures Published

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.

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info