Hell Roaring Lake

Location: Sawtooth Wilderness
Distance: ~2 miles (from 4 wheel drive high clearance trailhead), 6 mi (horse & other vehicle trailhead) one way
Elevation gain: 100 ft, 600 ft
Dates: June 19 and July 31, 2008

Hell Roaring Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Sawtooth Wilderness in Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho. There are two trailheads depending on what type of vehicle you have. The first trailhead is just west of Idaho state highway 75 in Sawtooth Valley. This trailhead can be accessed by any vehicle, and the hike to the lake from here is about six miles one way. I have never hiked to the lake from this trailhead.

Hell Roaring Lake with the Finger of Fate at center on July 31, 2008

The second trailhead is only two miles and 100 feet of elevation gain from the lake, but it is a very rough, steep, and poorly maintained road only accessible by high clearance and probably four wheel drive vehicles. portions of this road simply look like boulder fields. I have hiked to the lake from this trailhead twice.

The hike to the lake from the second trailhead is overall quite easy. There is only about 100 feet of overall elevation gain over the two mile hike. But the most difficult part of the hike (aside from the drive up the road) is crossing Hell Roaring Creek. You have to cross the creek at the trailhead, and there are no bridges (as of my 2008 visit) to use to cross because the road ends at the border of Sawtooth Wilderness. But thanks to the pine beetles, there are plenty of dead trees to use to cross the creek, and you can do so without getting wet.

Hell Roaring Lake in the evening of June 19, 2008

Once across the creek you hike through forest until you reach the lake. At the very downstream end of the lake you have to cross the stream again to continue on the trail, but here the crossing is much less difficult because of the logjams that occur at the end of lakes. The trail continues on the southern side of the lake until continuing on to Imogene Lake and other destinations. The Sawtooth Mountains rise above the western end of Hell Roaring Lake, with the most prominent feature being the Finger of Fate.

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