Waipiti Ridge Trail

Sawtooth Wilderness

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Waipiti Ridge Trail

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  • Trail at the Wapiti Creek Trailhead.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Streambank globemallow, Wild hollyhock ( Lliamna rivularis).- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • A view across the South Fork of the Payette to Mount Zumwalt from the Waipiti Ridge Trail.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • A stunning view of the remote Sawtooth peaks east of the South Fork of the Boise River from the top of the Waipiti Ridge Trail.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • The Wapiti Ridge traverses more than 3 miles of ridgeline above 8,500 feet.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • A moss covered white bark pine snag.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Looking down Wapiti Creek and toward the Goat and Baron Creek drainages.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Appreciating the view of the western Sawtooths from exposed Waipiti Ridge.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • More stunning ridgeline traversing on the Waipiti Ridge Trail.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Trail signs at the junction with the Ten Mile Ridge Trail.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • The Ten Mile Ridge Trail continues for several miles to the west along similar high elevation terrain.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • The Wapiti Trail eventually enters the wilderness as it traverses east toward Picket Mountain.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Scars from the 1994 Rabbit Creek Fire.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Burned trees and blue skies.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Though the trail fades a little once in the Sawtooth Wilderness, it crosses some stunning high alpine ridgetop meadows.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Rydbergs penstemon.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • The Southwest buttress of Grandjean Peak.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot in the early sun on Picket Mountain.- Waipiti Ridge Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views of western Sawtooths. Ridge hike. Widlflowers. Low traffic.
Cons: 
No water. Steep climb. Motorized use.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,211.00 ft (978.71 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
15.00 mi (24.14 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,400.00 ft (1,645.92 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Waipiti Ridge is located in the South Fork of the Payette River canyon. The Grandjean Trailhead is located a few miles upstream and is the jumping off point for several great hikes. The Taylor Springs adventure is a good starting point to learn more about the South Fork.

Waipiti Ridge

The Waipiti Creek Trail lies just outside the northwest corner of the Sawtooth Wilderness. The trail climbs more than 3,000 feet to reach Point 8,836, where an 180-degree panorama takes in the entire west side of the range from Mount Zumwalt to Nahneke Peak on the south end of the range. The there-and-back trip to Point 8,836 is a big day hike (8.8 miles and 3,470 feet of climbing), but it is well worth the unique perspective on the range. The wildflowers on the south slopes and along the ridge are also quite stunning. There is no water available on the hike, but snowdrifts up high can last into the middle of July.

The trail continues to a junction with Tenmile Ridge (Boise National Forest #157) and then east to Picket Mountain and down to the South Fork of the Payette River. This makes for an ambitious day loop, or a nice overnight trip with a camp on the summit of Picket Mountain. The Rabbit Creek Fire in 1994 burned over most of Picket Mountain. The trail beyond Tenmile Ridge is faint at times, but it crosses through a beautiful, open landscape of recovering forest. There are two springs in this section where hikers will hopefully be able to find water.

Hiking distances and ascents are as follows:

• From the Waipiti Trailhead to overlook at Point 8,836: 4.4 miles, 3,470 feet.
• From the Waipiti Trailhead to Pickett Mountain: 10.2 miles, 4,104 feet.
• Waipiti to Pickett to Grandjean Loop: 17.7 miles, 4,606 feet.

Additional Adventures

As mentioned above, it is possible to create a loop from Waipiti Ridge to Pickett Mountain. Check out the Pickett Mountain hike for more info about the second leg. There is also a trail that extends west along the Tenmilie Ridge and is part of the Boise National Forest (see Mountain Biking below).

Mountain Biking

Picket Mountain is open to both mountain bikes and motorcycles. As a bike ride, the climb is pretty grueling, with the bottom, middle, and top sections averaging a 15%, 18%, and 12% grade respectively. Crux sections steepen to a 23% (by comparison, the steepest climb up the Bald Mountain Ski Resort in Ketchum/Sun Valley is a steady 13%).  If you feel up to the effort however, Wapiti to Tenmile Ridge looks to be an outstanding ride that traverses nearly 11 miles of stunning mountain ridgeline before dropping to the South Fork of the Payette River. Check with the Boise National Forest for more information on the Tenmile Ridge Trail.

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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