Sawtooth Lake Trail #195
Length: 3 miles
Recommended Season: July to September. Snow may persist well into the season.
The trail climbs steadily from the parking area through lodgepole pine forest in granite-boulder terrain. Sawtooth Lake rests in a cirque surrounded by Goat, Highboy, and Sawtooth Mountains. Even in summer, light snows often accent the crags and their slopes above the treeline. This hike is popular because of the unique species of fish that inhabit Sawtooth Lake. Golden Trout are rare and getting rarer.
From the trailhead, the hike follows Clark Creek at stream gradient for three miles. The trail crosses the creek on logs twice. The second crossing can be treacherous if the logs are wet. The hike passes through mature lodgepole pine and Englemann spruce.
The last mile before the lake turns southeast toward Goat Mountain and climbs switchbacks to the lake. Evidence of humans is fairly common. Past campers were overly ambitious about building their own fire rings, which dot the shoreline. This lake could absorb thirty campers at once, but it would diminish the wilderness experience for everyone.
The best campsites are on the peninsula to the right (south) upon arrival. The second best place to camp is just north of the inlet. Use one of the existing fire rings. The south shore of the lake is a talus slope that offers an ideal place to throw a line in. The trout are temperamental, but very catchable. Twelve-inch golden trout are common throughout the lake.