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Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes

Sawtooth Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes

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  • Stanley Lake Creek and McGown Peak are adjacent to and visible from the trail (Inlet Campground Trailhead) for the first half mile of the hike.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Beautiful flower meadows early in the hike.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • The trail is open to mountain bikes, which makes the relatively flat approach go much quicker.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Stop for a quick view at Lady Face Falls. This is the gorge just upstream of the falls.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Lady Face Falls. Actually getting this view takes some dicey scrambling down granite slabs covered in granitic sand. Be careful near the edge!- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • A view of Stanley Lake Creek shortly after the first crossing.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • The off-trail route up to Hansen Lakes climbs to the right of Bridal Veil Falls.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Looking down into the Stanley Lake Creek Valley and the west face of McGown Peak.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • The lower Hansen Lake is tucked beneath Point 9,085.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • The beautiful blue water of upper Hansen Lake.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Looking down onto the shoreline of upper Hansen Lake.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
  • Hansen Lakes with the burned headwaters of Stanley Lake Creek in the background.- Stanley Lake Creek to Hansen Lakes
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Remote off-trail experience. Beautiful blue water. Bridal Veil Falls.
Cons: 
Requires off-trail hiking. Bridgeless creek crossing. Steep climb. Mosquitos.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,837.00 ft (559.92 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
9.60 mi (15.45 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,520.00 ft (1,987.30 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The route to Hansen Lakes begins several miles up the Stanley Lake Creek Canyon. As you head up the canyon, take in views of McGown Peak from the expansive wildflower meadows early in the hike. It is also recommended to make a quick side trip to Lady Face Falls on your way further out the canyon.

Hansen Lakes

Hansen Lakes are a pair of alpine lakes perched 1,500 feet above Stanley Lake Creek. Mountainous glaciers once filled the canyon to the elevation of the lakes. When the thick rivers of grinding ice finally receded, they left a small shelf, or hanging valley, perched high above the canyon floor. The outlet pours down the steep wall below the lakes to form an impressive cascade known as Bridal Veil Falls.

There is no official Forest Service trail to Hansen Lakes. Over time, however, users have created a faint route that climbs the steep face guarding the hanging valley. While the route is fairly straightforward, it does require off-trail navigation.

After hiking 3.7 miles up Stanley Lake Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls will come into view. At this point, a faint trail branches off and heads toward Stanley Lake Creek. Find the best crossing of the creek and head to the small drainage immediately down canyon of the falls. A faint trail climbs up a subtle ridge on the hiker's left of this drainage. After about 400 feet of steep scrambling the slope will ease a bit. A diagonal, tree covered ramp leads southwest for another 600 feet to the lower lake. It is not advised to approach Bridal Veil Falls. The surrounding slopes are very steep and unexpectedly loose.

Though it is a steep hump to carry provisions for an overnight backpack trip to the lakes, the setting is beautiful enough to enjoy for a day or two. Please practice Leave No Trace backcountry practices. It is also a manageable length for a long day-hike.

Additional Adventures

The Stanley Lake Creek Trail continues up the canyon beyond Bridal Veil Falls to the Observation Divide before dropping down Trail Creek toward Grandjean (see Taylor Springs adventure). McGowan Lakes and Observation Peak are two spur trails that lead to other adventures within the Stanley Lake Creek drainage.

Mountain Biking

Mountain bikes are allowed on the Stanley Lake Trial to the wilderness boundary. Riding the 3.7 miles to Bridal Veil Falls makes for quick access to these alpine gems.

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 6-8 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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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

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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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