Sawtooth – Alpine Creek Loop

Location Sawtooth National Forest, ID
Alpine Creek trailhead near Alturas Lake
Distance 15-22 miles
Total Elevation Gain 4700-9100 ft
Topographic Map

This is super neat, half off trail loop (or figure eight) from one of the less popular Sawtooth trailheads. In fact, I never shared a campsite over labor day weekend! This loop offers quite a few peak bags and, I’ve heard, great fly fishing.

While there are no official trails beyond the 3 mile out-and-back, the trails up to the two Alpine Creek lake basins are well worn. I found the off-trail sections of the loop pretty straight forward as well.

If you do no other peaks in the area, definitely grab Snowyside! It is currently my favorite peak view in the Sawtooths. The scramble up from the NE lake basin is a hard class 2 with not that much elevation gain.

  • Regarding clockwise vs counter-clockwise: it doesn’t make much of a difference. I’d lean toward a slight preference of clockwise as that makes the navigation off Rockslide Peak slightly easier.
  • You could shortcut the Glens Peak option by just navigating up the SE ridge. There are some pretty big boulders to navigate, but the scramble would not be difficult.
  • Here is the approximate route up Snowyside. Red is the route I took, purple is the route that I think would probably have been easier (coming off the SW pass).
  • If you’re heading up Snowyside and you think “Mary, you bitch, you said this was class 2”, look to your right.

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