Elk Mountain Loop

Sawtooth Mountains

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Elk Mountain Loop


  • The Elk Mountain Bike Ride starts up an old mining/forest road that can be decorated with south facing spring flowers in June.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Bikers who want to add a little more vertical to the climb can continue past the main Elk Mountain singletrack turn off and continue climbing to the end of the Sawtooth Overlook at the end of hte road.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata).- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Large Douglas fir trees populate the rounded summit of Elk Mountain.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Glimpses of the expansive Elk Meadows can be seen from portions of the Elk Mountain Road.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Once on the singletrack, riders are treated to a rocky and technical descent down to Elk Meadows.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • A rider tackles one of the bumpier sections of trail on the Elk Mountain Loop.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Elk Meadow blooms with Mountain Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) in late June.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • The riding smooths out considerably below Elk Meadows, so bikers can open up the throttle.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Enjoying the smooth singletrack below Elk Meadows.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • About halfway through the ride the trail passes an oxbow meander of Elk Creek.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • Dense trees along the northern section of the ride.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • The sections between meadows offer fun, smooth riding.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • The third large meadow supports a bloom of white mule's ears (Wyethia helianthoides) in late June.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • White mule's ears (Wyethia helianthoides).- Elk Mountain Loop
  • The trail is well signed at all junctions.- Elk Mountain Loop
  • The last few miles join another Forest Service road through a pleasant forest with this scenic view to greet riders at the final turn.- Elk Mountain Loop
Overview + Weather
Smooth flowy singletrack. Wildflower meadow. Moderate length. Loop
Includes dirt roads. Rocky section at the start. Can be muddy. Motorized use.
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
746.00 ft (227.38 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Trail difficulty: 
Total Distance: 
11.20 mi (18.02 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,537.00 ft (1,992.48 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description


The Stanley Lake Trailhead is the jumping-off point for this great mountain bike ride that circumnavigates Elk Mountain.  Lady Face Falls is the first of several hikes up the Stanley Lake Canyon (which is also open to mountain bikes and can be combined with this adventure). The Elk Mountain Ride also uses portions of the Elk Meadow Trail out Elk Creek, the next major drainage to the north.

Elk Mountain Loop

A moderate but non-technical dirt road climb that accesses several miles of flowing singletrack and outstanding wildflower meadows make this one of the best mountain bike rides in the Sawtooths. Bikers looking for an extra workout can easily add an additional 500 feet of climbing up the old mining roads to the Sawtooth Overlook for a great view across Stanley Lake into the north couloirs of McGown Peak. In June the yellow blooms of arrowleaf balsamroot often decorate the south slopes of the initial climb. The loop is best ridden counter-clockwise. Note that portions of the trail along Elk Meadow can be very wet through June, so please avoid the trail in late spring and early summer.

Hiking distances and ascents are as follows:

• Elk Mountain Loop: 11.2 miles, 746 feet.
• Elk Mountain mining road extension adds: 2.8 miles, 500 feet.

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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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