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Washington Lake

White Cloud Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Washington Lake

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  • The Whitecloud Mountains appear in the distance as you approach the trailhead from Fourth of July Creek Road.- Washington Lake
  • Helpful signage at the Fourth of July Creek Trailhead.- Washington Lake
  • Visible remnants of the 2005 Valley Road Fire.- Washington Lake
  • Small creeks on the trail are crossed using logs or stepping stones.- Washington Lake
  • Lush green forest clearings provide excellent habitat for wildlife in the area.- Washington Lake
  • Fourth of July Lake with a spectaular Whitecloud Ridge backdrop.- Washington Lake
  • Marshlands around the lake are habitat for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the insects upon which they feed.- Washington Lake
  • A collection of downed tree trunks at the south end of the lake.- Washington Lake
  • An overturned tree reveals a large boulder it has grasped in its roots.- Washington Lake
  • A backcountry campsite at the south end of the lake.- Washington Lake
  • The eastern shore of the lake is composed of boulders and scree from the ridge above.- Washington Lake
  • The nearby mountains and ridges provide options for day hikes from the lakeside camp.- Washington Lake
  • Ripples and reflections in the still waters of Washington Lake.- Washington Lake
  • A visitor stops to reflect in the views of the lake.- Washington Lake
  • The clear blue water of Washington Lake.- Washington Lake
  • Cloud formations are clearly reflected in the still water on a clear day.- Washington Lake
  • Clear blue waters reflect nearby land features.- Washington Lake
  • A visitor braves the lake's cold water for a morning swim.- Washington Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Variable destinations. Abundant wildlife. Secluded. Easy high-mountain access.
Cons: 
Rough access road.
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Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
762.00 ft (232.26 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
5.60 mi (9.01 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
8,833.00 ft (2,692.30 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The hike to Washington Lake provides an opportunity to experience some spectacular scenery in Idaho's Whitecloud Mountains. Located between Stanley and Sun Valley, ID, the Whiteclouds are a popular spot for hikers, backcountry campers, hunters, and game watchers. The sheer rocky peaks rival those of the nearby Sawtooth Mountain Range, and they are often offer easier access. 

The hike starts at the Fourth of July Creek Trailhead and winds through an old burnout from the 2005 Valley Road Fire. The area is restoring itself nicely, and the valley is full of small brush, wildflowers, and an abundance of deer, elk and bear. The hike meanders almost 2 miles through the edge of the burn before opening upon a tremendous view of Fourth of July Lake framed by scenic Whitecloud Ridge in the background. 

The trail winds southeast from Fourth of July Lake and an additional mile over a short pass. Washington Lake becomes visible from the top of the pass, and the hike is easy down the well-maintained path to the edge of the water. There are several small backcountry sites available to campers. The lake is protected and calm, and brave visitors might enjoy a swim in the cold, high-mountain water. There are various trails that spin off from this location, including popular access to the nearby Chamberlain Lakes. 

The trail reaches approximately 9,500 feet, which makes it a great opportunity to access high elevation scenery without straining your calves. However, you may need to wait until mid-summer for the snow to melt before you can get on the trail. 

Note: This area is particularly dry in summer and fall, and the use of fires is very limited in the area. Please check with the local Forest Service Ranger Station by calling 208-726-7672 or online to see if fires are allowed.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(19 within a 30 mile radius)

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(92 within a 30 mile radius)

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