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Sawtooth – Trail Creek Lakes & Observation Peak

Location Sawtooth National Forest, ID
Grandjean trailhead
Distance 13.5 miles (round trip)
Total Elevation Gain 4650 ft
Topographic Map

A straightforward and fun overnight with spectacular views. The trail goes through a recent (2006) burn area, but the trail itself has been mostly cleared of downed logs.

Out of Grandjean, make a left past the bridge and through the burn area. From there, you have no options–follow the trail uphill, crossing the creek several times. Eventually you’ll come to an intersection. Right takes you to Trail Creek Lakes. Left heads to Observation Peak (and eventually over to Sawtooth Lake).

If visiting or camping at Trail Creek Lakes, head left. If camping, I recommend striking out to Observation Peak the next day. The trail up to the peak is on the left and signed. It ought to be easy to find.

Overall, a great trail with beautiful alpine lakes and an awesome view of the Sawtooths. It is especially a fun one for early summer.


  • A map and compass or GPS is good for this route, especially in the snow. The side trails are sometimes not obvious. However, I found it simple enough to scramble in the right direction.
  • The start of the trail up to Observation has been washed out (but the sign is there!). Just aim for climbing uphill until you see your destination.
  • I recommend camping at the upper Trail Creek Lakes. Especially 8245!
  • There are multiple river crossings on the main trail. I went early summer (last week of June) on a low snow year and found them easily passable, but way early season or heavy snow loads is going to change the difficulty of this route.
  • Go in the snow and you’ll get some fun glissades off Observation Peak! I took spikes when I went, which were handy but not necessary.

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