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Trail Creek Lakes

Sun Valley

Overnight or day trip to a picturesque alpine lake, with the option to scramble to higher and more secluded lakes.

Hiking Difficult

18 km
860 m
860 m
5-6 hrs
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
2.4 km
Trail Creek Lakes Map

Trail Creek is one of the trails that begins from Grandjean in the Sawtooth Mountains. It is perhaps the most popular hike in the area, and is commonly done as a one-night backpacking trip or as a day hike. The destination is Trail Creek Lakes, a series of alpine lakes tucked beneath sheer-walled, jagged peaks.


Most hikers go only to the first lake, but there is the option to continue off-trail, on bouldery and steep terrain, to reach the higher lakes. Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit, and the first lake has enough flat areas for 3-4 groups to camp comfortably. Far more than that may show up on summer weekends, however.

Reaching the lake is a straightforward hike on a well-defined trail. It travels through a regenerating burned area for much of the distance, offering little shade. Luckily, the trail crosses a creek in several places, providing some relief in hot weather. Then there is the cold water of the lake, which is excellent for swimming and fishing.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area