The trail into Camp Lake is accessed from the Middle Fork of the Boise River Trail 8 miles up the canyon from Mattingly Junction. Check out that adventure for an overview of the M.F. Boise canyon or the Atlanta overview for more general info about the greater region.
The middle canyon between Mattingly Creek and Rock Creek traverses through sparse forest on a series of connected alluvial fans that have accumulated on the valley floor beneath Peak 9,266. Depending on how far you have traveled, hiking this section can feel a bit like riding a slow-moving conveyor belt through the somewhat monotonous canyon landscape.
The upper Middle Fork to the Camp Lake junction, however, is a spectacular canyon. There is a lot of variety as the trail skips back and forth between the sunny and shady side of the drainage. There are also some great views into the north side of Mattingly Peak.
Camp Lake and Heart Lake are the lowest of more than 14 small and medium-sized lakes that dot the Flytrip Basin. The cirque is oriented northeast, which aligns with the general trend of jointing in the underlying Idaho Batholith granite. Over time, erosion along the individual joint lines carved out the numerous lakes that occupy micro-drainages within the larger Flytrip Basin. At the downstream edge of the cirque, there are as many as eight separate creeks that eventually feed into Flytrip Creek. This landscape of joints and ridges is blanked with a thick cover of timber. Hikers exploring both on and off-trail in the region will find Flytrip to contain a beautiful yet convoluted and confusing landscape.
Note that snow can cover sections of Sawtooth trails and high mountain passes until early July in a big snow year.
The trail fades into a meadow just upstream from Camp Lake. Beyond that, hikers must depend on their own map, compass, and GPS skills to explore further. It is a long hike from Atlanta into the Flytrip Basin, but there are other routes into the region from both the South Fork of the Payette and Salmon River drainages. None of these are easy, and all involve crossing long talus and scree slopes to get into the basin.
It is possible to summit at least three of the four major peaks ringing the lakes. In order of least to most difficult, they are: the Class 2 east ridge of Glens Peak, Class 3 west ridge of Peak 9,963, the Class 3 to 4 southwest ridge of Snowyside Peak, and the Class 4 to 5 west ridge of Peak 10,205.
One of the more promising features for new technical climbing routes in the Sawtooths is Peak 10,340 on the ridge northwest of Snowyside. Dave Williams guided Robert and Miriam Underhill up Snowyside in 1934, and the three traversed off the north ridge and over this peak. They climbed the prominent tower on the north ridge of Point 10,340 and named it Crystal Peak. The sheer west face of this feature towers above upper Flytrip Basin. Two vertical buttresses, each approximately 500 feet tall, are split by cracks, slanting corners, chimneys and roofs. The rock is part of the Sawtooth Batholith and looks similar to the granite found on the Elephants Perch.
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 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.
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