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White Clouds – Castle Peak Loop

Location White Clouds Wilderness, ID
Fourth of July Creek trailhead
Distance 24-30 miles
Total Elevation Gain 6240 ft
Topographic Map

The White Clouds is the Sawtooth’s lesser known sibling. Yet it maintains a lot of the same beauty. I suspect this loop is the most popular in the area. I covered this over Labor Day weekend 2019 and saw about thirty people.

The highlight of the route, in my opinion, is Devil’s Staircase and Quiet Lake. Both require off trail travel, but the route is pretty obvious for those comfortable with a map and compass.

The number of alpine lakes in this thirty mile loop is outstanding, averaging out to about one per mile. Castle Peak is also an awesome focal point for most of the loop. It really highlights the name “White Clouds” and makes a stark difference from anything you’ll see in the Sawtooths.


Notes

  • Devil’s Staircase is not overly challenging. The approach has a fairly obvious use trail you’ll see when exiting the Boorn Lakes area.
  • I’ve read one can go up and over to the Four Lakes Basin from Boorn Lakes to avoid the Devil’s Staircase. I have not tried.
  • Castle Lake, I’ve read, is a neat side trip. I could not find the use trail that takes you to the lake. Once I was up near the pass east of Castle Peak I could see the side trail rounding the east slopes of Castle Peak–still not totally sure how to get there.
  • Castle Peak is a non-technical summit from Castle Lake. If you end up venturing out there you should consider adding that to your trip list.

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