Fishing Champion Lake
Fishing Champion Lake

Hiking, horseback riding

17 miles round trip

Moderately strenuous







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Boulder-White Clouds Council
Post Office Box 6313
Ketchum, Idaho 83340

2003 All rights reserved.

Champion Lakes


Champion LakesTrailhead elevation: 7,500 feet
High Point: 8661 feet
Elevation gain: over 1,600 feet
Access: July through October
Road: two-wheel drive, rough washboard surface
Maps: Sawtooth Forest, USGS Washington Peak, Obsidian

Features: The "long" route to Champion Lakes, Sawtooth Mountain viewpoint, beautiful fall foliage, high mountain scenery, wildlife viewing and fishing.

Primary users of this long route into the Champion Lakes country are horsemen including outfitters and hunters. It’s a long slog for hikers and most use two trails from Pole Creek which are much shorter, albeit steeper (and not suited to horses). But, those trails require a high clearance vehicle to reach the trailheads.

For hikers with a 2-wheel drive vehicle, the Champion Lakes trailhead, 4.7 miles up Fourth of July canyon is easily accessible. It’s a recently constructed facility and trail -- built to resolve public access problems across private land in the Sawtooth Valley at lower Champion Creek.

The path begins by climbing west, through woods, and within 30 minutes, breaks into open sage with views of the Sawtooth Peaks, and Pettit, Yellowbelly and Alturas Lakes. A short hike could halt here. The route then drops over 400 feet into Champion Creek canyon, and continues to the first lake at 8 miles. The upper lake is another half-mile away, with Washington Peak, 10,500 feet filling the eastern skyline. There are ample campsites, finicky fish and opportunities to see and hear wildlife (sometimes wolves).

By advance planning and an early start -- try visiting Champion Lakes by leaving a vehicle at Fourth of July Creek, and be dropped off at either the Pole Creek road Champion Lakes trailhead or in Washington Basin. This one-way, 11-mile trek is all downhill, after a steep start to Champion Lakes east ridge.

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