Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
3,909.00 ft (1,191.46 m)
Trail type
25.00 mi (40.23 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Iron Creek - Stanley Lake Loop is a 23-mile loop located in the Sawtooth Mountains west of Stanley, Idaho. Starting from the Iron Creek Trailhead, the route combines the Iron Creek-Stanley Lake Trail #640 with the Alpine Way Trail to create a scenic loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness. The route follows singletrack trails and features stunning vistas, picturesque valleys, granite peaks, and sparkling alpine lakes. This route is suitable for running, hiking, or backpacking and can be completed in a day or as part of a longer backpacking trip. 


The route begins at The Iron Creek Trailhead, 5.5 miles west of Stanley, Idaho via Forest Road #619. Parking is plentiful, but does fill up on the weekends. 

The trail begins in a forested area and follows Iron Creek for about a mile before starting a climb up several switchbacks towards Alpine Lake. Here the trail becomes rocky and exposed, but filled with rewarding scenery and views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

After 4 miles, you will reach a junction on the left that leads to Alpine Lake. To remain on the Iron Creek - Stanley Lake Trail, stay straight. About ½ mile later you will reach Sawtooth Lake, one of the largest and most spectacular in the region! The lake offers plenty of camping space, but it is popular and tends to fill up on weekends. 

At the next junction, turn right to stay on the Iron Creek - Stanley Lake Trail #640 and follow it all the way to Stanley Lake. You can swim at Stanley Lake, have a picnic, use the restrooms, or reserve a campsite at Stanley Lake Campground. 

To finish the loop, retrace your steps along Stanley Lake Trail until you reach a junction with Alpine Way Trail. Follow the Alpine Way Trail back to Iron Creek and the trailhead. 


Wilderness permits are required and can be obtained for free at the trailhead. 


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round





Alpine lakes. Singletrack trails. Mountain Views.


Crowds at the lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

6,739.00 ft (2,054.05 m)

Highest point

8,755.00 ft (2,668.52 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site




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