This past fourth of July weekend, I literally had just the best weekend. It was all about celebrating the Fourth with hiking followed by copious amounts of food. Some amazing (and originally local, Idaho raised! minus Lizzie who was just an added bonus!) friends were in town from San Francisco so we set out on an Idaho Adventure to Silver Lake. Silver Lake is truly Idaho’s best kept secret. I couldn’t find the directions in my hiking book and it is relatively obscure on the internet, which generally means it is pretty uncharted territory. And there is good reason for that.
The “trailhead,” which doesn’t really exist, starts out at about 8,000 feet after a somewhat treacherous and long drive straight up into the Sawtooth Mountains. We had no directions and thought we were lost several times so the drive took quite a while. But after holding my phone out the window (to find some service), on top of a mountain to call my mom’s friend who had just hiked there (thank you again, Roni!), we were able to find the start of the trail. My friends, if you plan to go to Silver Lake use four wheel drive and make sure you have a friend who is used to driving up the side of mountains with no fear (thanks to a few high school canyon parties).
Between the drive and the trail that literally just runs into a rock face, Silver Lake is a tricky little lake to find. But it is worth it. Luckily, as with most mountain lakes, the lake is in a large basin so after we forged our own trail traversing around the basin we found Silver Lake located snuggly at the base of the basin.
And while the obscurity of this hike helps to keep it as one of Idaho’s best kept secret, I just had to share this hike because of how breathtakingly beautiful it is. There is literally a mountain side full of fresh blooming lupine (think wildflower heaven x Sound of Music x 1000 in amazingness factor), rock slides and scree to scurry, a few rock faces to scramble and crystal clear Silver Lake to swim in that is located at 9,700 feet just about at tree line. The hike is remote (all while being so close) and is one of those hikes that reminds you how vast and magnificent nature really can be. Plus with some fabulous and adventerous company there is oodles of fun, handstands and donkey kicks to be had!
Here is a look! We had some pre and post-hike goat snuggles of course…
Perhaps the unknown and wandering upped how amazing this hike actually was. But if you are actually itching to go to Silver Lake here are a few quick directions that would have been quite helpful: at the north end of the Baker Creek parking lot cross the bridge and follow the road for several miles. Keep right every time the road forks. You will literally drive straight up mountains. Just keep going. It will likely be okay. Finally the road will run into a grove of Aspen trees and there appears to be somewhat of a parking spot. Make sure to set your parking brake so you will have a ride home. Cross through the trees to find the trail that leads into wildflower heaven and continue on the trail. When the trail ends into a rock face, look to your left and there will be a fragment of a trail that crosses the second waterfall you will see. Scurry across the rocks, stream, boulders and up the rocks that will lead you directly to the base of the lake. If that sounds too intense, do what we did and scurry up the rock wall, then randomly wander in the basin until you find the lake. Good luck!