Alice Lake, Sawtooth Wilderness

Distance: ~11 miles (17.7 km) round trip
Elevation: 8,596 ft (2,620 m)
Elevation gain: 1,600 ft (488 m)
Date: August 7, 2011
Alice Lake

Alice Lake is one of the largest, most spectacular, and most popular of the hundreds of lakes in the Sawtooth Wilderness in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho.  Most hikes to Alice Lake start at the Pettit Lake trailhead and can be done as a day hike or backpack.  A backpack trip loop through the Alice and Toxaway Lake valleys is perhaps the best short backpack trip hike in Idaho, and there are numerous opportunities to extend this trip throughout the Sawtooth Wilderness.

Lower Alice Lake

From the trailhead, the trail parallels Pettit Lake for one mile, and after this point it is an excellent trail with gentle elevation gain for 3/4 of the way and moderate gain for the remainder.  However, the first four stream crossings do not have bridges and can be difficult to make early in the summer when the water is high.  There is a small waterfall about halfway up the trail as well as a few cascades below Alice Lake.

El Capitan rises precipitously above the northeast end of the lake while the sheer rock wall of the Sawtooths rises above southwest end of the Lake and provides a dramatic backdrop.  Prime campsites can be difficult to find around the lake because of all the rock.

El Capitan
Pettit Lake

Sego Lilies are common in mid-late summer along the trail. 

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


  1. Roughly how deep are the four stream crossings? Are the logs or rocks to cross on? Are waterproof hiking boots good enough?

    1. I think there's generally logs or rocks to use, and yes, waterproof hiking boots should be fine.


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