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Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls

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  • The inlet beach at Stanley Lake is a great place to start or finish your hike up the Stanley Lake Creek Canyon.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Stanley Lake Creek and Elk Mountain Trailhead.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Stanley Lake Creek and Elk Mountain Trailhead.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • New singletrack connector trail from the Elk Mountain and Stanley Lake Creek Trailhead. This was built to divert traffic around riparian areas along the old trail that followed the creek. Both the new and old trail are wheelchiar accessible.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Junction and trail sign in a  box at the junction with the new Elk Mountain and Stanley Lake Creek Trailhead connector.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Beautiful meadow views up Stanley Lake Creek Canyon. McGown peak is on the left.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Looking back into the Stanley Lake "inlet" campground where the alternate trailhead is located.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Wildflower kiosk at the alternate Stanley Lake Trailhead located in the "inlet" campground.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The trail leaving "inlet" campground follows Stanley Lake Creek and offers some stunning views.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The sandy bottom of Stanley Lake Creek is a fun place to explore, though the water is quite chilly.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Some of the meanders along Stanley Lake Creek can accomodate backpackers looking for an easy, short overnight option for kids. All campfires need to be contained in firepans or fire blankets.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • McGown Peak and Stanley Lake Creek.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The wheelchair-accessible trail is also great for young kids on bikes.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • An August view of Mystery Mountain (left) and McGown Peak (right) along the Stanley Lake Creek Trail.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Stunning wildflowers bloom in the Stanley Lake Creek meadows in June and July.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • Trail sign at the Stanley Lake Creek and Alpine Way junction.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The trail up Stanley Lake Creek follows an old mining road to the Greenback Mine. It has been converted to a singletrack trail, but remnants of the old road bed are obvious at times.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The Stanley Lake Creek Trail is wide and easy hiking. It is a great option for kids, bikes, and those looking for a gentle day hike. It is even possible to pull a double chariot-type child stroller behind your mountain bike.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • The gorge downstream from Lady Face Falls on Stanley Lake Creek.- Stanley Lake Creek + Lady Face Falls
  • 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 + Lady Face Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Stunning wildflowers. Waterfall. Wheelchair accessible. Moutain bike accessible.
Cons: 
Mosquitos. Water in trailhead. Dangerous terrain around the falls. Motorized use.
Alerts: 
Use caution when viewing Lady Face Falls because granite slabs covered in loose dirt and gravel can lead to a potentially fatal slip. Children must be attended.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
273.00 ft (83.21 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,537.00 ft (1,992.48 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Stanley Lake Creek Canyon - Overview

There are two trailheads that access the Stanley Lake Creek canyon trail system. The Stanley Lake/Elk Mountain Trailhead is on the north side of the road to Stanley Lake and has ample parking (this is also the start of the Elk Mountain Loop bike ride).  A new spur trail connecting this parking lot to the main trail was completed in 2013 and 2014. 

The second (and original) trailhead is accessed from the “inlet” campground loop. Part of this road is often flooded, and the whole campground layout is scheduled for a major overhaul sometime in the future. The trail leaving this older trailhead has the advantage of following the beautiful meanders of Stanley Lake Creek for the first half mile.

The first mile of the Stanley Lake Creek Trail (from both trailheads) is ADA-accessible, and the path is also wide enough to accommodate a bike trailer so that families can stroll or tow their kids nearly 2 miles from Stanley Lake.

Lady Face Falls

From the “inlet” trailhead (0.2 miles from the parking lot), the ADA-accessible trail follows a fence along Stanley Lake Creek before weaving through dense willows for 0.5 miles. It emerges into a field of stunning wildflowers set against a backdrop of snow-filled couloirs (this is where the spur from the new trailhead come in) for most of the next half mile to the junction with the Alpine Way Trail. 

Continue through open forest to the north wall of the canyon where the trail begins a contouring climb up a subtle ridge.  Look for a cairn and small sign where the main trail levels off, marking a spur that leads to Lady Face Falls. If you reach Stanley Lake Creek (another 0.3 miles further down the trail), you have gone too far.

Additional Adventures

The Stanley Lake Creek Canyon extends south for 7 miles to the Observation Divide. The trail follows an old mining road to the long defunct Greenback Mine. Claims on the property date back to 1903, but the majority of mining occurred in the 1950s.   

The Alpine Way Trail leaves the Stanley Lake Trail a mile up the canyon. Destinations beyond Lady Face Falls include a walk to view Bridal Veil Falls, an exploration of Hansen Lakes (off-trail) and the McGown Lakes trail that connects over a divide to the Sawtooth LakeObservation Peak offers outstanding views of the range to the south and is reached by a spur trail from the divide.

Mountain Biking

When the Sawtooth Wilderness was established in 1972, the boundary was drawn to exclude the road to the Greenback Mine.  This means that mountain bikes and motorcycles can be ridden to the Wilderness boundary 5.7 miles out the canyon. All of the longer trips up the canyon can be “shortened” into reasonable day-hiking length by using a mountain bike. Other than a few sandy washouts beneath McGown Peak, the trail is rideable and quite enjoyable as an activity in its own right.

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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