7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
This hike from Redfish Lake goes to some of the most stunning high-elevation lakes in the Sawtooths.
It’s doable as a long day hike, but is perhaps best as a backpacking trip over two or three days, camping at the shore of one of the lakes.
A permit from Sawtooth National Forest is required for all overnight trips, but they are free and self-issued at the trailhead. The first lake reached is [Alpine Lake](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2096892/Sawtooth_National_Forest,_ID:_Alpine_Lake), where several good campsites are spread around the shore.
As with everywhere in the Sawtooth Wilderness, camping is informal and at-large.
Just be sure to choose a spot that has clearly been used before, and take care to make no further impacts. Beyond Alpine Lake, the trail continues uphill and into a small basin with a few tarns.
Then a final set of switchbacks leads to the pass called Baron Divide, where you’ll find the view that makes it all worth it.
Two deep-blue lakes beneath serrated spines of granite, with a horizon of endless peaks beyond.
These are the Baron Lakes, and the trail drops down the other side of the pass to reach them. First comes Upper Baron Lake, where some good campsites can be found on the north shore.
A short distance farther is Middle Baron Lake (the largest and arguably most scenic one), where campsites are more numerous but also in higher demand.
On a summer weekend, expect to camp in proximity to other groups if you want a prime lakeside view.
If you’re willing to strike out and explore side trails, however, you may find a comfortable and secluded spot all your own. A layover day at either of these lakes would not go to waste.
Swimming, fishing, and additional hikes are ways to pass the time.
Consider hiking to Baron Falls, farther down the trail along Baron Creek.
Rock climbing and scrambling are also popular at Baron Lakes, on the innumerable granite summits that surround.
However, one notable formation–Baron Creek Spire–which used to crown the tallest peak on the ridgeline, is no more.
It collapsed catastrophically in an earthquake in August 2020.
Look for the rockfall scar on the mountain. Sources: https://bearfoottheory.com/baron-lakes-idaho-backpacking-guide/ https://alanmajchrowicz.com/baron-lakes-sawtooth-mountains/