Sawtooth Mountains, Part 2: Alice Lake Trail

Our hike to Alice Lake was incredible. Stunning. Amazing. And without exaggeration, one of the Top 5 hikes I’ve ever done. The latter realization reminds me that I should update my post of favorite hikes to include some of these new trails, but that’s for another day.

The trail to Alice Lake is actually a segment in the larger Alice-Toxaway Lakes Loop, a backpacking trail that ascends into the mountains and over some supposedly-awesome mountain passes. We only did the 6 mile section from the Tin Cup Trailhead to Alice Lake, but the 1,600 feet of elevation gain seemed quite a bit more to both of us, and the extended scrambles across the lateral moraine of the glacial valleys (done to avoid a few of the early season high water crossings) made for some slow going. We had hoped to go beyond Alice, but with the unexpected time we spent reaching the lake, we decided to turn back at that point. We WILL, however, return. The lake, ringed by snowy peaks and emerald green grass, is hands-down the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen: the water is an indescribable blue-green that will knock your socks off.

But it’s far from a destination hike: crossing the pine forest along the cascading river and ascending the rocky moraines is more than worthwhile in itself, providing some breath-taking views down the valley and up to the mountain passes above. There is also a pretty excellent waterfall. And majestic fir trees. And stunning folds and fractures in the rock pinnacles. And the pretty Pettit Lake at the trailhead. And the cerulean bonus lake that is an outflow of Alice. I honestly cannot describe how mind-blowingly beautiful this trail is but I will say that, as usual, the pictures do no justice to this amazing place.

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