Evans Outdoor Adventures

Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness Backpack Day 2: Alpine Lake to Baron Lakes

iPhone pano shot of Main Baron Lake

Day two of our September 2018 Sawtooth Wilderness backpack (click here for day one). We rolled out of the tent at 6:30. It was still dark, but we could see faint light on the horizon. We had anticipated temperatures in the 20’s, so we were happy to see a balmy 30 degrees. We had coffee and breakfast then gathered our day hiking gear and set off for Barron Lakes. By the time we left camp, it was a beautiful morning with pure blue skies. 

beautiful morning from camp at Alpine Lake

The trail out of Alpine Lake was initially uneventful. We climbed through the forest with only occasional glimpses down to Alpine. The trail was well-graded and in excellent condition making for easy climbing with just a moderate grade. At 0.75 miles, we came to a pretty little pond (elevation 8,752’). There were some nice colors here and a couple rugged peaks for a backdrop. 

Views improved quickly and significantly past the pond. We continued our climb and soon had magnificent views to the south toward Crammer Lakes (our destination for the following day). The trail remained in very good condition with well-designed switchbacks making for a relatively easy climb.

view toward our route for the following day
climb to Baron Divide

We reached Baron Divide after hiking 1.6 miles from camp and climbing 755’ to an elevation of 9,175’. The view down onto Upper and Main Baron Lakes was jaw dropping—jagged Sawtooth peaks rose dramatically from the lakes and there were far reaching views to the north. We scrambled off trail to the right for even better views. We felt like we were on top of the world. 

view from Baron Divide
close-up of peaks above Baron Lakes
close up of peaks above Baron Lakes

It was a 650’ descent down to Upper Baron Lake. Our progress was slow, not because of trail conditions, but because I stopped every few feet for photos of the stunning surroundings. Reaching Upper Baron, I scrambled off trail and down to the water’s edge for some reflection photos while the lake was nice and calm.

We made our way along the east shore of Upper Baron, crossed the outlet and descended to the shore of Main Baron Lake at 8,421’. While Upper Baron had been very beautiful, Main Baron was one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen. The water was a beautiful blue and the peaks behind it were spectacular. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer weather day with clear skies and temperatures in the 60’s. The icing on the cake, we only saw two people during our hike.

We crossed the outlet stream and made our way around the north end of the lake where Jason caught a few trout while I kicked back on a big rock and enjoyed the views. At our turn-around point, we were just 3.5 miles from camp at Alpine making for a 7.0 mile roundtrip hike.  

Back at camp, we struck up a conversation with our neighbors who were camped just over the hill from us. Rick and Randy are long-time buddies who used to hike together in the Sierras. It had been a couple decades since they last hiked together and they were now reuniting for a Sawtooth adventure. Randy works as a natural historian at Yosemite NP while Rick is a pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship—the same organization a lifelong friend of mine works for. Rick and Randy are super nice guys and we had a great time talking about our favorite hiking areas. Like us, they planned to head to Crammer lakes the following day.

We enjoyed a quiet evening at the lake. No one else came in, so we couldn’t see anyone from our site and could only occasionally hear the faint voices of Rick and Randy. Like the previous night, temperatures dropped quickly once the sun dipped behind the jagged Sawtooth peaks above the lake.

Related Posts

Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness Backpack Day 1: Redfish Lake to Alpine Lake

Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness Backpack Day 3: Alpine Lake to Crammer Lakes

Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness Backpack Day 4: Crammer Lakes to Redfish Lake

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