Stanley & Sawtooth Hiking
Guides and Gear
Stanley, Idaho, is a true backcountry mecca for hikers. Set in the beautiful Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, there are hundreds of high mountain lakes linked by maintained and marked trails in all three ranges with trailheads. You can choose from multi-day trails, loops to alpine lakes, and world-renowned rock and alpine climbing. All of this is a matter of minutes from downtown Stanley, Idaho.
Contact a Hiking Guide in Stanley, Idaho
Hiring a hiking guide can take the pressure off your outing, especially since there’s only so much information you can gain by reading books, watching YouTube videos and looking up trail information on the internet.
The benefits of hiring a hiking guide include that they:
- Will plan a safe route and have knowledge of back-up routes if trails are closed
- Are versed in first-aide and backcountry safety
- Read conditions constantly to help identify storms
- Will keep you on course and can identify where you are at all times
- Entertain and inform you along the trail about everything from local ecology to history to identifying wildflowers
- Rely on experience to minimize risks such as what to do if your encounter wildlife
- Help secure any Wilderness Use Permits required
- Provide a daypack, hiking poles (if needed), sustenance, and will carry heavier items on longer backpacking trips
What to Know Before You Go Hiking in Stanley, Idaho
When is hiking season in the Sawtooths?
The ideal time to go hiking is when the weather is warmer, and trails are no longer muddy; typically June through September. However, it’s important to note the following about high mountain lake trails:
- They may not be accessible until early or mid-July due to snowpack.
- There can be dangerous river crossings in the spring with early runoff, so some lakes are easier and more attainable in late summer/early fall. For example, Alice Lake has four large dangerous stream crossings in spring, but it is much safer in the fall.
- You should always check local trail and avalanche conditions in early and late season before going out.
What are some popular non-technical guided hikes in the Stanley Area?
The Sawtooth, White Cloud and Salmon River Ranges which encircle Stanley offer hands down some of the best backpacking, hiking, and climbing anywhere in the lower 48 states. Below are a few of our most popular non-technical guided hikes:
Thompson Peak: 10,751′ and the Sawtooth’s highest point
Galena Peak: 11,153′
Kent Peak: 11,664′
What hiking trails around Stanley, Idaho lead to alpine lakes?
Read our popular blog, “Challenging but Worth It: The Top 8 Hikes In The Sawtooths That Lead To Pristine Alpine Lakes,” to discover some of our favorites.
What should I wear while hiking?
The attire you should wear while hiking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area depends on the time of year you go. No matter the season, you should always make sure you have lightweight, sturdy shoes that support and protect your feet and a layer of sunscreen!
Consider a dark-colored, tighter fitting tank top under a loose light-colored t-shirt with UPF 30+ or higher. Wearing a lightweight windbreaker can also be wise. If hiking through brush or an area with potential exposure to poison ivy, wear pants to protect your legs, if not and the temperature is warm, shorts are ideal. Wearing a wide brimmed hat can also protect your face and neck from the sun.
FALL OR SPRING HIKING
Wear a long-sleeve shirt, under a fleece jacket and windbreaker or rain jacket. Pair with nylon shorts or pants depending on the temperature.
Invest in a sweat-wicking or thermal layer that can be worn under a long-sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket, a waterproof shell, and waterproof pants. It’s best to err on the side of caution since the average overnight temperatures in Stanley reach below freezing over 270 days a year!
What should I bring while hiking on a guided hike in the Sawtooth Wilderness?
A few important basics for hiking include: a backpack, sunglasses, bug repellant, lip balm, trekking poles, lunch, snacks, and water. A hiking guide will let you know of any other necessities or help you make arrangements if you need pack stock.
Book a Guided Hiking Expedition
Whether you’re a skilled outdoor enthusiast wanting to experience a multi-day backpacking trip, or a parent looking to book a half-day trek for your family, hiring a hiking guide is the perfect solution for making sure you get the most out of your hike. We love the outdoors and sharing our knowledge with visitors to Stanley’s wilderness!
Things to do While You’re in Stanley
Consider making your hiking trip to Stanley the trip of a lifetime by adding another outdoor recreation option such as rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing, or river rafting into the Sawtooths, White Cloud, and Salmon River Range areas!
If you’re more inclined to enjoy a day of rest after your guided hike, tour our town, go shopping downtown, soak in a nearby hot spring, join in a street dance, and dine at some of our amazing restaurants! We can’t wait to meet you!
Guidebooks and Maps
One of the best trailmaps for the area is the Sawtooth/White Cloud, Idaho Trail Map and Guide by Adventure Maps, Inc which can be purchased online or locally.
Stanley Trails App
A great app for the trail network is the Stanley Trails app available in the App Store and on iTunes.