Bear Creek Lake Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
3-4.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
8.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
553 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Get lost in the Lost River Mountain Range and discover an idyllic lake hidden in the wilderness on the Bear Creek Lake Hike. This excellent adventure exhibits the topographic range, in addition to the variety of flora and fauna that occupy the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

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Route Description for Bear Creek Lake Hike

Hiking the Bear Creek Lake Trail is an immersive experience. This exciting expedition travels deep into Idaho’s backcountry, boasting a variety of scenery and the opportunity to reconnect with nature. As this trail explores the preserved wilderness, there are stream crossings, blowdown, overgrowth, and rockfalls obstructing the unmarked footpath. In this area, cell coverage is sparse, so we encourage trekkers to download the trail GPS before departure for easy navigation. Due to the ruggedness of the terrain, it is wise to wear a sturdy pair of footwear to mitigate the chances of a rolled ankle. Note that the road to the trailhead is rough, so vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended to bear the route.

Although the Bear Creek Lake Trail is primitive, the rustic charm and unspoiled environment protect the cornucopia of wildlife and vegetation that inhabit the area. Hike amongst grazing cattle in the initial stage of your hike, then explore the woodlands occupied by deer before opening to the glacial basin busy with yelling pikas. Those seeking a secluded and scenic day-hike near MacKay, Idaho, will surely appreciate this route through the wilderness. While the trek into the basin is lovely, the alpine lake and bounding bluffs are the piece de resistance—boasting a truly breathtaking scene. This amazing adventure is ranked second on our list of favorite hikes in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, and it will likely be found on the top of your list too. Don’t forget your camera; the scenery is quite photogenic!

Embark on your excursion into the Lost River Mountains from the Bear Creek Trailhead off the National Forest Development Road 430. Using the trail GPS, you will be guided westward through a tree-lined meadow often populated with cows. As you wander through the exposed terrain, you will be granted views of craggy ridges rising above the treeline. After some hiking, the path will escape beneath the tree canopy of towering alpine firs. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Bear Creek, and carefully maneuver the crossings as necessary. As you explore the woodlands, keep an eye out for wildlife camouflaging in the forest.

Eventually, the creek will curve, directing you northwardly through Methodist Gulch. Beyond this point, the terrain will become increasingly rocky and turbulent as you meander through the steep-walled canyon. As you climb through the ravine, it is important to be mindful of rockfalls that sometimes slide down the cliff sides. Enjoy the shade of the tree canopy, and soon the route will open, unfolding mesmerizing vistas of the towering ridges of the Lost River Mountains. Admire the turquoise-hued waters of the glacial pool and revel in the grandeur of the bluffs. Take the time to explore the shoreline of alpine water and the impressive basin. When you are through relishing in this hidden oasis, head back along the path the way you came, back to the trailhead.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Bear Creek Lake Hike?

The Bear Creek Lake Hike is a 8.7 km out-and-back trail in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Where is the trailhead for the Bear Creek Lake Hike?

The Trailhead for the Bear Creek Lake Hike is found off the National Forest Development Road 430 near the Bear Creek Campground.

Insider Hints for Bear Creek Lake Hike

  • When exploring in the spring and autumn it is wise to bring a pair of microspikes as the terrain will likely be snow-cloaked and icy
  • Bring your camera, the scenes are quite photogenic
  • Wear a sturdy pair of footwear to avoid a rolled ankle on the uneven and rocky terrain
  • Download the trail GPS prior to exploring
  • Vehicles with high ground clearance are suggested to navigate the rugged road to the trailhead
  • Come prepared to intersect with the gurgling creek

Getting to the Bear Creek Lake Hike Trailhead

The Bear Creek Lake Trailhead is found off National Forest Development Road 430.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Camping

  • When to do

    May-September

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Bear Creek Lake Hike Elevation Graph

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Bear Creek Lake Hike Reviews

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