Short, but relatively steep climb to two beautiful alpine lakes below towering Steven’s Peak along the Idaho-Montana border.

Distance: 5.55 miles round trip to upper lake

Type: out and back

Difficulty: moderately difficult due to elevation gain of 1,780′ (most of that over the first 1.75 miles)

Best season: July – August

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July 7, 2012 we set out for northern Idaho to hike Stevens Lakes with Jason’s brother Chris, nephew Max, and coworker Kamyab.   The weather forecast was for 100+ degrees in our home towns, so we were hoping to beat the heat at higher elevations.

We made the three hour drive to the trailhead (elevation 3,960’) just outside of Mullan, Idaho near the Montana border.  There were quite a few cars here, but we were able to squeeze both of our vehicles in.

Departing from the trailhead, we took trail #165 to the left (trail #138 to the right climbs to Lone Lake).  The lower stretches of the trail climbed through thick forest and across a couple talus slopes.  Views opened up some as we gained elevation and we had a major stream crossing of Willow Creek at about 1.5 miles in.

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Lower Stevens Lake had incredible views of snow covered peaks behind it.  We took a short break there and then hiked south along the right hand side of the lake where we climbed a small saddle to Upper Stevens.  We hit quite a bit of snow along that saddle, but it was easy following previous hikers tracks.

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Upper Stevens (elevation 5,740′) was even more beautiful with towering snow covered cliff walls rising on three sides.  Jason decided to beat the heat by wading into the lake—a refreshing experience given the icebergs that were still floating at the far end.

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Directions to  trailhead:  Head east on I-90 from Wallace, Idaho and take exit 69 East Mullan.  Turn left at the stop sign.  Drive north over the freeway and take a right onto highway 10.  Travel approximately 1 mile, past the Lucky Friday Mine, to Shoshone Park junction.  Turn right at the junction and cross over the freeway.  Follow Willow Creek Road approximately 1 mile to the trailhead.  

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2 Replies to “Northern Idaho’s Stevens Lakes, July 2012”

  1. Hi Jason & Lusha,
    My name is Chic Burge.
    I am also the Historian for the Spokane Mountaineers, Inc.
    As I was searching the interwebs, I came across your great website.
    You have created a very nice website that shows a lot of detail and great images.
    Altho I haven’t traveled as extensively as you two, I have recreated all over the northwest.
    I was especially interested in your N. Idaho and the regions write ups, since that is the area our website covers.
    You should be very proud of the quality, and extended coverage of your website.
    Having sold cameras for 50+ years, I am always curious what others are using.
    Could you let me know what all camera gear you two use, including phones, etc.

    Because of your thorough coverage of the western U.S., I’d like to propose that we link our websites.
    By doing this your readers as well as ours, can get a bigger picture of the many incredible places to hike, paddle, scramble, and enjoy in the West.

    Thank You first for your wonderful website, and secondly, for considering linking websites.

    Chic Burge. David Crafton. Co-Authors

    1. Hello Chic,

      Thank you for your kind compliments! It means a lot coming from someone with your background. I took some time to look at your website and I love what you and David are doing there. We would be honored to link websites. We have had other requests to link in the past, but I never felt the websites were a good match to ours. Let me poke around in WordPress and see how best to link you in (I’m open to suggestions if you have any!). I’ll probably try to do something similar to your site with your “Links to Friends” tab. By the way, Hiking From Here (linked on your site) is maintained by a college professor of mine from many years ago! We’re doing good if you put us on par with her 🙂

      Concerning camera gear, almost all photos in posts prior to 2019 were shot with a Canon Rebel T2i. Since 2019, I’ve increasingly transitioned away from the Canon and now shoot almost exclusively with an iPhone. The photo quality isn’t quite as good, but they’ve come a long way with the phones and I confess I like not lugging around all the heavy camera gear!

      I’ll work on that link. And again, thank you for the compliments. As you know, it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain these blogs and words like yours go a long way.
      Feel free to email at
      Happy trails,

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