Backpack - White Clouds Wilderness Loop


Backpack - White Clouds Wilderness Loop

A seven day intermediate backpack into Central Idaho, where we will see 20+ high alpine lakes, and several 11,000' peaks. Expect lots of photography, exploring, fishing, and swimming opportunities. Please note, this is a leader permission required trip.

  • Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 40.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 10,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 10,500 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2.0 mph

The trip starts at the Big Boulder Creek trailhead. About 60 miles from Stanley Idaho (google maps says 1hr 42min). From Stanley travel east towards Challis. In about 37.5 miles turn right onto E Fork Rd. Then travel about 17.7 mi and turn right onto Big Boulder Creek Rd. Exact meeting time is TBD, but expect it to be sometime in the morning. 

It is a full day drive from the Seattle area to the Stanley area. Some participants may want to carpool, and some may choose other travel arrangements. 

Please note that this is a leader permission required trip. 

The plan for this Intermediate Backpack is to visit two lake basins, camping 3 nights in/around/near each basin, probably moving our camp each day. See the caltopo map for details, The map shows alternate camp sites for some days, implying that the exact camp site will be determined when we get there. The map also shows locations where I'm hoping for great photo opportunities. When you research this area online, you will see why a lot of photographers enjoy this area. Both basins are loaded with scenery. There will also be ample time for fishing and/or swimming. 

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 0 (Aug 8th): Travel to the area and find lodging or camping for the night. Possible camp at the trailhead. The trip officially begins Aug 9th.

Day 1: Hike to  Walker Lake, elevation 9200'. Around 6 mi, and 2328' gain. If time permits, possibly day hike out to Tin Cup Lake primarily off trail.

Day 2: In the morning explore Sheep Lake, Neck Lake, and Slide Lake. Move camp to Sapphire Lake, elevation 9900'. It's only a couple of miles with about 800' gain. 

Day 3: Explore the lake basin, maybe 10 more lakes/tarns. Later in the afternoon, maybe move camp down to Island Lake, elevation 9200'.

Day 4: Hike to Frog Lake, elevation 8900'. 9 or so miles, with a 2300' drop followed by a 2000' gain. 

Day 5: Move camp up to Hummock Lake, elevation 9500' (or possibly to a ridge above Shallow Lake). Looks like this basin has about 11 lakes. It's only about 3 or so miles, with about a 1000' gain.

Day 6: In the afternoon, move camp back down Hatchet Lake. 

Day 7: Morning pictures, fishing, swimming. Eventually packing up and doing the 9 miles back to the trailhead with a 1000' gain, followed by a 3000' loss.

The trip officially ends when we reach the trailhead, however I would guess that Aug 15th becomes a travel day for some of us.

Details of the trip may change a bit, but the overall idea is to explore and enjoy two beautiful alpine lakes basins. 

When you request leader permission please 1) let me know that you enjoy trips where you spend as much time exploring and soaking up the area, as you do hiking. And 2) that you are ok with the elevation.

One last note: the leader is sometimes "off the grid" for a week at a time. Please be patient, I will get back to you in time.


White Clouds Wilderness Loop

  • Adventure Maps Sawtooth & White Cloud Mountains Trail Map

    Trails Illustrated Sawtooth National Recreation Area

    USGS Boulder Chain Lakes, ID

    USGS Washington Peak, ID

    USGS Livingston Creek, ID
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Full rain gear
  • Pack cover, or some way to guarantee your gear stays dry incase of rain 
Trip Reports