Picket Mountain Trail

Sawtooth Wilderness

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Picket Mountain Trail


  • A hiker's bridge over Trail Creek is crossed early in the hike.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Rugged canyon walls flank both sides of the lower South Fork of the Payette River.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Much of the South Fork of the Payette was burned in the Rabbit Creek Fire (1994), so the trail passes through large swaths of regrowth.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Trail sign at the Baron Creek junction.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Morning light creeps down the canyon wall to the South Fork of the Payette River.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • The South Fork of the Payetter River.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • An old and weather trail sign at the junction with the Picket Mountain Trail.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Another classic old and weathered trail sign.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Sunrise over the eastern Sawtooths from high up on the Pickett Mountain Trail.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • July wildflowers decorate the south facing hillsides near the saddle below Picket Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • A stunning view of the North Raker from the flanks of Picket Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Sunset illuminated the Rabbit Creek (1994) fire scars on the north flanks of Picket Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Looking across the South Fork of the Payette into the Goat and Baron Creek drainages.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Rabbit Creek Fire scars.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Green grass in July stands in stark contrast to the Rabbit Creek Fire scars.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Light and dark across a burned landscape.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Evening fades across the eastern Sawtooths with a stunning view up the South Fork of the Payette River.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Morning moonrise over the Sawtooth Mountains from Picket Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • The first light creeps into the South Fork of the Payette River from the summit of Pickett Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Sunrise on Picket Mountain above Grandjean and the South Fork of the Payette River.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Sunrise on Picket Mountain with the high peaks of the Sawtooth Range in the background.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • Sunrise on the south flanks of Picket Mountain.- Picket Mountain Trail
  • A single burned tree against a backdrop of fire scars in Arrasta Creek.- Picket Mountain Trail
Overview + Weather
Easy summit with trail access. Stunning views. Wildflowers. Can be looped with Waipiti Ridge.
Stream crossings. Steep climb. Burned area.
There are three stream crossings that can be difficult during spring runoff. Baron and Goat creeks can be challenging, and the ford across the South Fork of the Payette River will very likely limit access until mid-summer.
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,211.00 ft (978.71 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
15.00 mi (24.14 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,180.00 ft (1,578.86 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description


The trail to Pickett Mountain leaves from the South Fork of the Payette River Trail. Check out the Taylor Springs adventure for information about the first several miles of the hike.

Pickett Mountain

Picket Mountain is one of only two peaks in the Sawtooths that have a trail to the summit. The rounded summit offers outstanding views into the west side of the Sawtooths and onto the South Fork of the Payette River. As a day trip, this is a 15-mile out and back hike, but 7 of those miles are along the relatively flat trail along the South Fork of the Payette River.

The two stream crossings at Baron and Goat Creeks can be troublesome at higher water, and the ford across the South Fork of the Payette may very well limit access until mid-summer. The trail climbs through the 1999 Queasy Burn, so it can be a hot hike with little shade in the heat of the day. There are great wildflowers along the upper reaches of this hike.

Hiking distances and ascents are as follows:

• From the Grandjean Trailhead to Pickett Mountain: 7.5 miles, 3,211 feet.
• From the Waipiti Trailhead to Pickett Mountain: 10.2 miles, 4,104 feet.
• Grandjean to Pickett Mountain to Waipiti Loop: 17.7 miles, 4,606 feet.

Additional Adventures

As mentioned above, this trail can be linked into the Waipiti Ridge Trail.  There is also a junction at the divide with the Arrasta Creek that descends to the North Fork of the Boise River.

Off-Trail Hiking

Rather than retracing your steps back down the trail, adventurous hikers can traverse the high and mellow ridge between Wapiti Creek and the South Fork of the Payette. This route crosses a high burned plateau to an easy forested ridgeline that leads to Point 7,980. From here, hikers will be positioned for an awesome view looking directly up the Goat Creek drainage.  It is a steep descent down the northeast ridge (or northwest ridge to the Wapiti summer homes), but there it looks to be free of any steep cliffs or rocky sections. Hikers will have to find a reasonable spot to make a second ford of the South Fork of the Payette.

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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