Alpine Lake Idaho

Ideal for both a day trip or an overnight stay, the journey to Alpine Lake Idaho spans 5.9 miles one way and stands out as a premier hiking destination. To avoid the crowds and secure a campsite during the busy summer weekends, it’s wise to start early.

The adventure kicks off with a boat ride across Redfish Lake, heading to the Inlet Campground. Upon disembarking, hikers should locate the trail on the northwest edge of the campground and begin their trek through dense forests of conifer.

The path ascends alongside Redfish Lake Creek, weaving through fields of boulders and edging past sheer granite cliffs. A rigorous series of switchbacks leads to Alpine Lake Idaho’s eastern shore, marking the culmination of the hike.

The Journey to Alpine Lake

The trek to Alpine Lake is as rewarding as it is challenging. Hikers must navigate a moderately difficult trail that winds through dense forests and steep terrain, offering breathtaking views along the way. Preparation is key; adequate water, nourishing snacks, and appropriate gear are essential for a safe and enjoyable journey.

The effort is rewarded with the serene beauty and peaceful atmosphere of Alpine Lake, a reward few other destinations can match.

How to Get to Alpine Lake Idaho?

To reach Alpine Lake in Idaho, adventurers typically start their journey from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, renowned for its stunning landscapes and wilderness trails. The most common access point is via the Iron Creek Trailhead, located near Stanley, Idaho. From there, hikers embark on a challenging but rewarding trek, covering approximately 7 miles round trip with an elevation gain that tests the endurance of even seasoned hikers. 

The trail meanders through dense forests, open meadows, and rugged terrain, offering breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Proper preparation is crucial; ensuring you have adequate water, food, and gear is essential for a safe and enjoyable hike. Despite the challenging journey, the serene beauty of Alpine Lake, with its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings, makes the effort truly worthwhile.

Geographical Wonders of Alpine Lake Idaho

Alpine Lake is a showcase of nature’s artistry, with its crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding peaks. The area is a biodiversity hotspot, home to an array of flora and fauna adapted to life at high elevations. The lake itself, fed by snowmelt and natural springs, is a vibrant ecosystem supporting a variety of fish species, making it a favorite among anglers.

Activities at Alpine Lake Idaho

The area around Alpine Lake is a playground for adventure seekers. Hiking trails offer endless exploration opportunities, while the lake’s calm waters are perfect for kayaking and canoeing.

Anglers will find themselves in paradise, with the lake’s clean waters teeming with fish. Photographers, too, will be captivated by the scenic vistas, capturing the essence of Alpine Lake’s untouched beauty.

Alpine Lake Fishing

Idaho boasts more than 3,700 alpine lakes, varying from tiny ephemeral ponds to expansive lakes stretching more than a mile in length. While not every lake is home to fish, the Idaho Fish and Game Department annually stocks many of these lakes with hundreds of trout.

Most of these lakes are situated in secluded, mountainous backcountry regions, frequently within designated wilderness areas, making them accessible predominantly by hiking or horseback riding. Nonetheless, there are a few high-altitude lakes that can be reached by motorized means, such as motorcycles, ATVs, or even cars in certain instances.

Alpine Lake Idaho Hike

The hike to Alpine Lake in Idaho is a breathtaking journey through the heart of the Sawtooth Wilderness. Spanning approximately 5.9 miles one-way from the Iron Creek Trailhead, this moderately challenging trek offers hikers stunning vistas of rugged mountain landscapes and lush forests. The path, marked by steep switchbacks and scenic creek crossings, leads adventurers through fields of wildflowers and past towering granite cliffs. 

Upon reaching the pristine shores of Alpine Lake, hikers are rewarded with the serene beauty of crystal-clear waters set against a backdrop of dramatic peaks. This hike is a must-do for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in Idaho’s natural splendor.

Alpine Lake Idaho Camping

Camping at Alpine Lake in Idaho offers an unforgettable wilderness experience, immersing visitors in the serene beauty of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Nestled amidst towering mountains and dense forests, the area around Alpine Lake provides primitive campsites, ideal for those seeking to connect with nature. Accessible via a rewarding hike that presents breathtaking views and diverse wildlife, the lake’s vicinity is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Whether you’re pitching a tent by the water’s edge or stargazing into the clear night sky, camping at Alpine Lake is a perfect way to disconnect from the hustle of daily life and bask in the tranquility of Idaho’s rugged landscape.

Best Times to Visit Alpine Lake Idaho

Best Times to Visit Alpine Lake Idaho

While Alpine Lake’s allure is year-round, the optimal time to visit is during the summer months when the trails are most accessible and the weather is conducive to outdoor activities. However, those seeking solitude may find the quiet beauty of the shoulder seasons—spring and fall—more to their liking. Winter visits offer a stark, serene landscape, though access can be challenging.

Accommodations and Amenities

For those wishing to extend their stay near Alpine Lake, options range from rustic campgrounds to cozy lodges, allowing for a range of experiences close to nature. While the area maintains a focus on simplicity and immersion in the natural environment, these accommodations ensure comfort and convenience, enhancing the overall experience.

How to Hike the Alpine Lake Trail in Idaho?

Your journey to Alpine Lake in Idaho kicks off with a ride on the Redfish Boat Shuttle across Redfish Lake, dropping you at the Redfish Inlet Trailhead. From here, embark on an 11-mile out-and-back trail adventure. The path, lined with the sounds of Redfish Lake Creek and views of Grand Mogul and Elephant’s Perch, offers stunning scenery worth capturing. Be prepared to navigate small creeks from snowmelt early in the season. 

At Flat Rock Junction, veer right to tackle the more challenging portion leading to Alpine Lake, marked by a series of switchbacks. Upon leveling out, you’ll be greeted by the breathtaking sight of a pristine mountain lake at the foot of Packrat Peak. After enjoying the view and a snack, it’s time to head back.

How Many Alpine Lakes Are in Idaho?

Idaho is home to more than 3,700 alpine lakes, which vary from tiny ephemeral ponds to vast bodies of water stretching over a mile. Although not every lake contains fish, the Idaho Fish and Game Department annually introduces hundreds of trout into many of these alpine lakes.

What to Know Before You Go to Alpine Lake Idaho?

  1. Trail Difficulty: Be aware that the hike to Alpine Lake can be challenging, with steep sections and switchbacks.
  2. Elevation: Prepare for high altitude and its possible effects.
  3. Weather Conditions: Check the weather forecast, as conditions can change rapidly in mountainous areas.
  4. Permits: Investigate if any permits are required for hiking or camping.
  5. Leave No Trace: Familiarize yourself with and adhere to Leave No Trace principles to minimize your environmental impact.
  6. Wildlife: Be informed about the local wildlife and how to safely coexist during your visit.
  7. Water Sources: Plan for water needs, including locations of natural water sources and treatment methods.
  8. Packing Essentials: Pack appropriately for both the hike and potential overnight stays, including food, water, shelter, and emergency supplies.
  9. Navigation: Have a reliable map and compass or GPS, as trails may not always be well-marked.
  10. Camping Spots: Know that camping spots might be limited and can fill up quickly during peak seasons.
  11. Boat Shuttle: If taking the Redfish Lake boat shuttle, check the schedule and fees in advance.


Alpine Lake, Idaho, stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of the American wilderness. Its remote location, stunning scenery, and diverse range of activities make it a must-visit destination for those seeking to connect with nature. By embracing conservation efforts and respecting the natural environment, visitors can ensure that Alpine Lake remains a cherished destination for generations to come. Whether seeking adventure, tranquility, or a deep connection with the natural world, Alpine Lake offers an unparalleled experience in the heart of Idaho’s wilderness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What is the best time of year to visit Alpine Lake Idaho?

The optimal time to visit is during the summer months, from late June to early September when the weather is most favorable for hiking and camping.

Do I need a permit to hike or camp at Alpine Lake?

While day hiking generally does not require a permit, certain areas may require permits for overnight camping. It’s best to check with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area for the latest requirements.

How difficult is the hike to Alpine Lake?

The hike to Alpine Lake is considered moderate to difficult due to elevation gains, switchbacks, and potentially challenging trail conditions. It’s suitable for hikers with some experience.

Can I fish in Alpine Lake?

Yes, fishing is allowed in Alpine Lake. The lake is stocked with trout by the Idaho Fish and Game Department. Remember to check for any specific fishing regulations or license requirements.

Are there designated campsites at Alpine Lake, or is backcountry camping allowed?

The area around Alpine Lake offers primitive backcountry camping spots. No designated campsites exist, so campers should follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact.

Is the trail to Alpine Lake dog-friendly?

Dogs are typically allowed on trails in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, but they must be kept on a leash. Always check current regulations before your trip.

How do I get to the trailhead for Alpine Lake?

The most common access point is the Redfish Lake area, where hikers can take the Redfish Lake boat shuttle to the Redfish Inlet Trailhead to start their hike. Alternatively, you can hike from the trailhead located near the Redfish Lake Lodge, adding distance to the trip.