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Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
4,600.00 ft (1,402.08 m)
9.80 mi (15.77 km)
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Boulder Lake Canyon

This steep hike into Boulder Canyon follows the creek past several picturesque gorges into the upper basin. Boulder Lake sits just below at 9,600 feet in a dramatic alpine basin ringed by sheer rock walls.

The first challenge is crossing Wildhorse Creek immediately below the trailhead. It is wide and shallow, but it may pose a problem during spring runoff. Plan on getting your feet wet!

After winding through the willows, the trail climbs through several forested switchbacks and a side-hill through open forest to a bridge over Boulder Creek. From here hikers catch glimpses of the creek as it tumbles through narrow gorges. A steep climb through several weaving switchbacks leads to a second crossing of Boulder Creek. 

The trail finally climbs into open terrain as it crests the edge of the basin and crosses a long meadow where mid-summer wildflowers decorate the valley bottom. For hikers who want to explore Boulder Lake, the trail enters the forest at the end of the meadow before the climbing steeply into the Boulder Lake Cirque. The east face of The Devils Bedstead towers over three additional lakes that can be explored via a challenging 2.5-mile off-trail loop.

The North Ridge of the Devil’s Bedstead

From the open meadows at 9,000 feet, the north ridge of the Devil’s Bedstead is accessed via an off-trail scramble to the lake at 9,860 feet and then a shorter climb to the broad saddle on the north ridge (10,550 feet).  This same saddle can also be accessed from the Kane Creek Canyon, but that entails more off-trail scrambling.

The Devils Bedstead itself is an impressive summit that offers a classic spring ski down the north face and a dramatic Class 4 to Class 5 climb up the north ridge. The north ridge climbs a steep and exposed line up decent rock to the summit. You can avoid the most difficult steep bulge (easy Class 5) by traversing into talus on the north face.

Additional Adventures

It is possible to connect Boulder Canyon with Little Kane Creek via a faint, unmaintained trail that links the two.  Additionally, Wildhorse Canyon is the jumping-off point for many impressive hikes. Start by exploring the possibilities at the Wildhorse Canyon Trail, or the Fall Creek Canyon Trail.  It is also possible to link Wildhorse Canyon with Kane Creek via the Burnt Aspen Trail.

Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring Sun Valley - A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer, and Smoky Mountains by Idaho River Publications.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Stunning views from the summit. Boulder Lake is an option for non-climbers. Alternate route avoids hard scrambling on ridge.


Committing ridgeline scrambling. Exposure. Off-trail navigation.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

7,300.00 ft (2,225.04 m)


Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Big vistas


Nearby Lodging + Camping


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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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