In just a little under 10 minutes, the shuttle boat across Redfish Lake deposits hikers at the mouth of the spectacular Redfish Creek Canyon. Trails from the boat dock lead up Redfish Canyon and along both sides of the lake. It is possible to take the shuttle to the inlet and hike back to Redfish Lodge via the Bench Lakes Trail or to spend the day exploring these trails and catch an afternoon boat back across the lake. Several shorter options, all of which are good for younger hikers, are described below.
Hiking the triangle formed by the Bench Lakes Trail and Redfish Canyon connector is a nice option with great views. Walk to the trailhead at the upper end of the Inlet Campground and start up the Redfish drainage (a short spur drops to a view of the cascading creek). Climb through two switchbacks to the junction with the Redfish/Bench connector and turn right. This section traverses across several steep gullies below Point 8,695 and offers a great perspective on the lower Redfish Canyon. The descent via the Bench Lake Trail through two sets of switchbacks is awash in yellow arrowleaf balsamroot in early summer. Several outstanding views of the Grand Mogul make for a great finish to this hike.
This popular hike starts on the Grand Mogul Trail that leaves from the southern end of the Inlet Campground. Follow it for 0.3 miles over Redfish Lake Creek toward the south end of the lake. Look for a small sign bolted to a Douglas fir that points to the “Lily Pond” and “waterfall” trail. Take a right and climb a short distance to a sculpted granite bowl filled with lily pads. The trail continues uphill to an overlook directly across from a ledge waterfall in Redfish Lake Creek. In spring and early summer the noise and spray from the falls is quite impressive.
If you continue south from the Lily Pond junction the trail hugs the rocky and forested shore of Redfish Lake. A small floating dock visible from the trail and anchored to the solid bedrock offers a great platform for swimming. Several springs cascade across the trail as it wraps around the southwest corner of the lake, and a huge boulder marks the bottom of the Grand Mogul avalanche path. The shore has the feel of a Pacific Northwest old-growth forest. At least 20 plank bridges span most of the creeks and springs that gurgle beneath the trail. The large trees provide a pleasant shaded canopy on a hot summer day. After about a mile, the trail begins climbing up the moraine and is a good turn-around point.
Hiking distances and ascents are as follows:
• The Redfish Triangle: 2.4 miles, 596 feet.
• The Lily Pond and Falls: .6 miles, 254 feet.
• South Shore of Redfish Lake: 1 mile, 100 feet.
The Redfish Lake Creek Canyon contains the highest concentration of documented climbs in the Sawtooths. Beyond the Elephants Perch and other features above Saddleback Lakes, there are many formations along both sides of the valley that offer technical challenges.
There is no published climbing guidebook to the Sawtooths. The Elephants Perch, a local climbing and outdoor shop in Ketchum, has an extensive collection of route images and climbing topos for perusal and sale. This trip report aims to help climbers find the individual features. In classic Sawtooth tradition, however, climbers are on their own when it comes time to rack up and leave the ground.
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.
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