Tag Archives: Idaho hiking

May 21, 2018 Scrambling to the summit of Mount Heyburn.

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

When can you claim to know a mountain range well? Maybe it’s once you have spent enough time—certainly measured in years, and probably decades—that you have explored beyond the most accessible and popular spots to the obscure, unknown corners. Perhaps it’s when you have hiked most of its trails. Just possibly, it’s when you unfold a map and it takes several minutes to tick off for someone all the places you have visited. That’s a good start, anyway.

I’ve been exploring Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains for 20 years—backpacking and dayhiking, climbing peaks, backcountry skiing—and have fallen in love with these rugged, crenulated peaks. I think you’ll see why in this photo gallery. Continue reading →

March 11, 2018 Summit of Thompson Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

The Roof of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Hiking Thompson Peak

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By Michael Lanza

Morning fog hung like a damp, cold blanket over the Sawtooth Valley as my wife, Penny, and I started hiking in early morning from the Redfish Trailhead, minutes from the shores of Redfish Lake. Before long, we caught our first view of our destination—and it looked quite far off: the pinpoint summit of 10,751-foot Thompson Peak, the highest in Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths. From where we started our dayhike, 6.5 circuitous miles and 4,200 vertical feet separated us from that lofty piece of granite, including on- and off-trail hiking through aspens and ponderosa pine forest, up a hanging valley with a steep headwall, over talus and scree, and a bit of third-class scrambling.

But Penny had never stood atop Thompson, and we had a bluebird, late-July day. So we fully intended to get there. Continue reading →

November 7, 2017

Middle of Nowhere: Hiking Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon Trail

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By Michael Lanza

I pause on a trail 300 feet above one of the West’s wildest rivers, deep in the second-largest wilderness area in the contiguous United States. Below me, Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River bends like an elbow between steep mountainsides of ponderosa pines in a canyon nearly 4,000 feet deep. I notice people and rafts on a beach campsite—the first people I’ve seen since I started hiking from Boundary Creek seven miles upstream almost three hours ago, planning to reach Indian Creek, another 20 miles downstream, by this evening.

Suddenly, a nasal shriek startles me. I spin around to see an elk crossing the trail I’d walked minutes ago. And I think: Welcome to the Idaho wilderness. Continue reading →

October 1, 2017 Baron Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Mountain Lakes of Idaho’s Sawtooths

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I may be risking an impassioned debate here, but I think there are very few mountain ranges in America with as many drop-dead, gorgeous high mountain lakes as Idaho’s Sawtooths. In fact, the only ranges that arguably beat out the Sawtooths in that department may be the High Sierra and Wind River Range (and not coincidentally, the three share other similarities, including geology). Over nearly 20 years of wandering around Idaho’s best-known hills, I’ve seen many of those watery jewels. This gallery of photos from many of them may persuade you to agree with me. Continue reading →

August 29, 2017 Baron Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: The Best Long Backpacking Trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths

In Ask Me, Backpacking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

Hi Michael,

We are a group of eight fit and active backpackers (our mountains are the High Sierra) who are interested in heading to Idaho to check out the Sawtooths next summer. I know these are some of your favorite mountains! We’re coming from California to spend a total of 10 days (including travel and a night on front and back side in Stanley). We’d like to spend about six or so days on the trail. We’re usually happy with the eight to 11 miles per day range (depending on difficulty). Of most interest to me is the Grand Sawtooths Loop from the guidebook Backpacking Idaho, by Douglas Lorain. Have you done this particular loop and would you recommend it?

I did take a look at your blog post on the best hikes in the Sawtooths. And I did notice in your post of your Top 10 backpacking trips that there is a different hike you would recommend to someone wanting a multi-day trip in the Sawtooths, so I’m hoping for more info on that trip and if it would be superior to this loop. That one I believe you said was about 50 miles. Continue reading →

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