Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,176.00 ft (663.24 m)
Trail type
8.00 mi (12.87 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.

The Sawtooth Mountains are home to massive granite peaks, spires, rivers, lakes, and so much more. Often overshadowed by mountain ranges like the Tetons, the Sawtooth mountains provide mountain recreation opportunities of the highest quality. Whether you desire to backpack, fish, or climb, there is something for just about every adventurous explorer in the Sawtooths. 

The Saddleback lakes are a series of high alpine lakes just 4 miles from the Redfish Lake trailhead, and have amazing views of the jagged, granite ridges that give the Sawtooths their namesake. While an excellent place for an overnight backpacking trip, the Saddleback Lakes area is the epicenter of alpine climbing in Idaho, and features one of the premier backcountry big walls in the United States. The 'Elephants Perch' towers over the lakes and is truly a daunting and awe-inspiring wall. Trad climbs go up the Perch from all angles, and backcountry camping in the area is abundant. 

To get to the Saddleback Lakes, it is advised that you take advantage of the boat shuttle offered out of Redfish Lake lodge. It is available on demand, and saves you many miles of roundtrip hiking. From the trailhead at the end of the boat ride, hike the well traveled Redfish creek trail for roughly 2 miles. After 2 miles, you will see a faint trail on the hikers left side, which quickly crosses Redfish creek. The crossing is typically a makeshift bridge made out of logs, and can potentially be quite tricky if wet. 

Once you cross the creek, the trail is faint compared to the Redfish creek trail. Like most climbers trails, the trail ascends very steeply and can be a tough climb with backpacking and climbing gear. As you get higher, the Elephants Perch comes into view, and the creek spills over a granite ramp creating an incredible view. From the creek crossing to the first lake, it is roughly a 2,000 foot climb. 

If basecamping in the Saddleback Lakes area, Decker peak is a great day hike. Decker peak is the 3rd highest in the Sawtooths, and provides amazing views of Mt. Cramer, Cramer Lakes, and the iconic Castle Peak. To return to the car, simply retrace your steps. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Car fee

Open Year-round


Open from

July 01 to October 01




Beautiful Scenery. World class trad climbing. Abundant camping. Swimming.


Can be crowded at times.

Trailhead Elevation

6,593.00 ft (2,009.55 m)

Highest point

8,433.00 ft (2,570.38 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Big Game Watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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