Although route travels through several well visited areas, there is also opportunity to spend miles and miles in stunning solitude. Leaving Redfish, the trail is initially steep. It eases off along the ridge as it joins the Alpine Ridge Trail #528. Look behind you to see the rounder White Mountains just to the east. Leaving the ridge, the trail descends into a cooler, wetter valley. The terrain here is full of soft sand.
As you approach the Iron Creek trailhead, you’ll pass the turn-off for Goat Lake Trail. At the junction, the Alpine Way Trail coincides briefly with the Iron Creek - Sawtooth Lake Trail (#640). When the trails split, take the right fork to continue on #528. The north end of this route takes you around McGown and Mystery Peaks, the latter of which received the moniker for being tucked away in the Boulder Mtns and difficult to spot. Be on the lookout for a rounded, jutting summit while you’re making your way north on the Alpine Way Trail.
Around mile 23, trail 64 intersects with trail 614. To the right is a short, 1000 ft, out-and-back detour to the summit of Observation Peak. Observation Peak is the only mountain in the Sawtooths with a Class I trail to the top. This spur is only an extra 1.2mi each way, so while not necessary for an official finish, I highly recommend it.
Coming back down from Observation Peak, continue straight towards Sawtooth Lake. Passing the northern shore of Sawtooth Lake, the trail joins the North Fork Baron-Sawtooth Lake Trail and follows the eastern edge of the lake and the valley at the base of Mount Regan. As you continue south and re-enter the trees, the trail is less maintained. It is arguably the most isolated area in the route. Near mile 29, the trail crosses North Fork Baron Creek at a steep cascade. During high water, this crossing can be tricky. After the waterfall, thick undergrowth and blowdowns will slow your pace. Trekking poles may help to push through the foliage.
After joining with the better maintained trail 101, the trail begins to climb. Around mile 37, the trail veers away from the creek and tree coverage is lost. A series of switchbacks take you up and around a noisy and stunning waterfall. At Upper Baron Lake, you begin the grand finale of this nearly 4000 ft climb as switchbacks take you up and over the pass. Aside from a brief climb around mile 49, once you reach the top of this pass, it is all downhill to Redfish Lake.
Wild Idaho Endurance Challenge events are self/unsupported wilderness fun runs. No course markings, no aid stations, no set date or time. You can complete them by yourself at any time or with a friend or two. Routes must be completed on foot and in one push. The nice part is that there are no cutoffs, so if you find a lake where you want to take a dip or a special viewpoint that you want to sit and enjoy, there is no pressure! Please take photos and visit the Facebook or Instagram pages afterwards and share with us how it went with a short trip report! You can either self report your time on the honor system, or you can submit your Strava/Gaia/Garmin/Suunto etc track. Please visit the website for GPS/GPX tracks of your route. Finishers will have their time posted and will be given a small swag bag.
To get people out into the wonderful wilderness areas that we have here! Information isn't always readily available for these areas and maps can be scarce and not always reliable. That can intimidate some that aren't as experienced outdoors-people. The goal is to empower people to get out into these wilderness areas, to raise awareness of them, and hopefully to protect them into the future.
Local time: 4:51 AM
All profits from registration fees will be donated to wilderness conservation groups like the Idaho Trails Association and The Wilderness Society.