South Shore of Phyllis Lake
South shore Phyllis Lake

Hiking, camping, wildflower viewing

round trip








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

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Phyllis Lake


Phyllis LakeTrailhead elevation: 9,000 feet
Blackman Peak elevation: 9,200 feet
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Access: late June through October
Road: 4-wheel drive, rough rock
Maps: Sawtooth NF, USGS Washington Peak

Features: Unheralded lake with interesting rocks, easy scrambling, wildlife

Phyllis Lake does not contain fish. This fact greatly curtails visitors. It’s a humble lake best suited for hikers content to meander, to admire geology, and wonder at goat trails criss crossing high places.

You can drive to within a half-mile of Phyllis Lake in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, via a rocky mining road punched out by a bulldozer. Expect rocks, deadfall, and be self sufficient, should a tire blow, or a tree fall blocking your path. (You can also walk from Fourth of July Lake trailhead and miss the adventure driving -- this adds 3.5 miles to the overall distance and increases elevation gain by 200 feet).

Look for the rugged Phyllis Lake road just beyond the Fourth of July trailhead, The road crosses Fourth of July Creek and goes about 1.5 miles until reaching a fork - stay left and park shortly - the road becomes a trail. Follow the path a half-mile to a view of Phyllis Lake. Choices: drop off the mountainside toward the lake’s inlet and a lake path, or go left (east) to circle the lake clock wise. We prefer going east and exploring the lakeshore and scanning the bluffs for critters.

There are plentiful campsites about the lake, and in the lake basin. Exploring abounds for confident hikers: nooks and crannies to the east; dropping off the mountainside to the west to an old mining claim and cabin, and heading to Thunder and Lightning Lakes.

As Idaho backcountry roads go, Phyllis Lake is rough but not precipitous or a white-knuckle drive. It is rocky and trees do tend to fall across the route. If you meet another vehicle, you might have to back up when you’d rather not. Be prepared. Advice: take a Washington Peak USGS map to know where you are and want to go.

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