Redfish Lake Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
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.
6.5-9.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
23.5 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.
916 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Hiking the Redfish Lake Trail makes for an unforgettable experience. Explore the memorable landscape occupied by craggy Rocky Mountain peaks, crystalline alpine lakes, lush pine forests, and beautiful meandering creeks. While this adventure is not for the faint of heart, the gorgeous scenery negates the sweat.

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Route Description for Redfish Lake Hike

The Redfish Lake Trail is a demanding and dynamic adventure in the Sawtooth National Forest that calls upon the exploration of experienced hikers and ambitious novices. This incredible day-hike progresses through breathtaking landscapes, which offer great motivation along the way. Note that there is an arduous ascent required to summit Grand Mogul’s ridgeline, so careful footing and proper footwear are required. Additionally, as the several routes in the area are shared with bikers, it is important to be mindful of passers-by. If you are seeking a more tranquil experience in an otherwise busy network of trails, mornings and evenings tend to boast more isolation.

The Redfish Lake Hike is a crowd-pleaser as it's maintained, well-signposted, and well-loved. Exhibiting the topographic diversity of the Sawtooth Mountains and the variety of flora and fauna that inhabit the area, this trek is anything but mundane. Explore lush pine woodlands occupied with elk, and mule deer, enjoy the scene of fish in the crystal-clear lake and hike amongst mountain goats up the rocky ridges of Grand Mogul. This hike's particular route is often used as a gateway into the Sawtooth Wilderness; thus, you can easily customize your adventure, transforming it into an epic backpacking expedition. If, on the other hand, you are exhausted by the thought of this trek, then we encourage you to hike up to the ridgeline of Grand Mogul, and instead of retracing your steps along the shoreline of the shimmering pool, instead, take the hiker boat shuttle service back to the trailhead!

With a charged camera and plenty of water in your backpack, your adventure along the Redfish Lake Hike departs from the Fishhook Trailhead. Setting out from here, the Fishhook Trail tracks southwestwardly, climbing into the woodlands along the meandering Fishhook Creek. Shortly after your departure, you will confront an intersection, veer left here, and you will be diverted onto the Redfish Creek-Barron Creek Trail, which intersects with Fishhook Creek via the footbridge. Steeply climbing, the path will wind up the forested ridges of the glacial lake. Enjoy the scenes of the crystalline pool below and the dramatic mountainscape through the tree breaks.

After some hiking, the route will intersect with yet another lazy-moving creek. As you wander, be sure to keep an eye out for deer and elk occupying the forest interspersed with patches of meadowlands. With the crisp mountain air filling your lungs, you will eventually encounter another junction. If time permits, take a quick detour up to the Bench Lakes, or simply continue along the same path. Beyond this point, the trail will begin to descend the forested ridges, leading you to another crossroad. Here, keep left, and you will be diverted onto the Grand Mogul Trail. This trail will steeply plunge to the southern shoreline, where you will find the boat dock and the Red Fish Inlet Campground. Take a break here, rest, and rehydrate overlooking the beautiful lake. When you are ready to begin the final push towards the peak, you will head south over Redfish Lake Creek, passing Lily Lake and a small lakeside pond. Traveling east along the shoreline of the mountain-bound lake, the path will abruptly reroute south.

From here, you will start your arduous climb up the rocky ridges of Grand Mogul. While vertiginous, most of the route is shaded with pines, providing shelter from the beating sun. Made more manageable with the help of switchbacks, you will ultimately reach your turnaround point at the subsequent trail junction atop the ridgeline. Here you will be granted impressive views of Mount Mogul and the nearby craggy crests rising above the trees. The sights of the lake from here are lacking but not entirely absent. When you are through reveling in the scenery and catching your breath, carefully retrace your footing along the route, all the way back to the trailhead—taking plenty of photos of the gorgeous alpine landscape along the way.

Trail Highlights

Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake is the largest lake in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The banana-shaped alpine lake sits at an elevation of 1,996 m between the rugged ridges of Mount Heyburn and Grand Mogul. This area has been developed by the National Forest Service—though it still maintains its rustic charm. There are numerous campsites along the shoreline, beaches and boat launches, a ferry service, and a seasonal Redfish Lake Lodge and marina. Hiking, camping, boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities are abundant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there trails around Redfish Lake?

Yes, there is an extensive network of trails in the Redfish Lake area, including the Redfish Lake Inlet Trail, Mount, the Redfish Creek-Barron Creek Trail, the Grand Mogul Trail, and much more!

Are there redfish in Redfish Lake?

Redfish Lake gets its name from the bright-colored Sockeye salmon that swim in the alpine pool.

Can you swim in Redfish Lake?

Yes, there are many idyllic beaches along the shoreline of Redfish Lake that grant easy access to the crystalline alpine pool.

Insider Hints for Redfish Lake Hike

  • Grab a free wilderness permit if you are adventuring further into the Sawtooth Mountains
  • Explore in the early mornings and the off-season for more solitude
  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles
  • Only fish if you have a valid permit and catch and release the Sockeye salmon
  • Keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats, elk, deer, and more
  • While winter exploration is possible, it presents inherent dangers, so exercise caution and come properly equipped
  • Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated!

Getting to the Redfish Lake Hike Trailhead

The Redfish Lake Hike departs from the Fishhook Trailhead off Redfish Lake Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Redfish Inlet Campground

  • When to do

    March-October

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Redfish Lake Hike Elevation Graph

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