FATMAP difficulty grade
A surprisingly large natural lake nestled deep in Idaho––Redfish Lake fills a glacial basin beneath the impressive Sawtooth Mountains.
The presence of a lodge, campground and trailheads for the Sawtooth Wilderness make Redfish one of the most popular recreation spots in the region.
Though parking and amenities may be crowded, you can always find solitude by paddling the expanse of the lake.
Boats and paddleboards can be rented from the lodge, or you can bring your own craft as long as it’s been cleaned and dried, free of any aquatic hitchhikers.
Fishing is popular here too, as the lake is stocked with sockeye salmon.
These red-colored fish are how the lake got its name, because they once journeyed in the thousands all the way from the ocean to spawn here. The lake is accessed from its north end, where a peak called Grand Mogul dominates the view over the water.
There’s more to the skyline, however, that’s hidden by slopes bordering the crescent-shaped lake.
Only by getting on the water and turning the corner can you see the panorama of peaks deeper in the Sawtooth range.
Most visitors to Redfish Lake miss out on this view.
It’s reserved only for those who can travel a few miles by water. The route mapped here starts from the public boat ramp at the campground, but you could instead start from the marina at the lodge.
Views toward the mountains are best from the lake’s east side, but the west side provides the quicker route to the head of the lake.
There’s a small dock near the south end, as well as shore access, that serves as a trailhead for hikes into the wilderness area.
There are backcountry campsites here as well, available first-come-first-served for those who wish to make an overnight trip.