Hike to Alice Lake – Stanley, Idaho

I am a bit behind in my posts. It’s definitely colder now and the pictures of the warm weather back in August are making me miss summer.

There were so many hiking options in Stanley. We started off with Goat Lake, which was awesome, so could the other lakes be just as good? When researching I read that Alice Lake was THE lake to hike to in the area. The most beautiful, the most rewarding. Goat lake was pretty amazing, so if there was supposedly something better, we wanted to get to it. It is one of the most popular hikes in the area. Even with the 13 mile hike and 1,600′ in elevation gain. Locals and tourists alike love this trail and so we were a bit worried about doing this hike the day before the total eclipse. Right on the path of totality, it would be popular with overnight campers.

During our nomad get together, we met some new nomads Heather and Jim (www.teamburho.wordpress.com), that we had been in contact with for over a year, but never met. Meeting new people is always great, but you wonder, even though we have the nomad thing in common, do we have anything else? We mentioned this long and potentially strenuous hike to them and they were immediately in! It’s a way to make me almost immediately a life long friend. Hiking with friends is always the best!

The morning of we got a bit of a late start. We were exhausted from the previous day’s hike and shenanigans with the group of nomads that we were boondocking with. We were hesitant to start a hike later, but we decided to at least drive to the trail head to see how busy it was and to see Pettit Lake. The weather was going to be mild and we read there was a lot of shade. The day before they were closing roads to some of the more popular trailheads because there were too many cars from all the overnight campers. We decided that if the road was closed we would turn around. Nope, so we found a parking spot about half a mile from the trail head. Okay, so we will walk to the trailhead and check out Pettit Lake. We made it to the trailhead and decided that we should hike for a little bit and we could always turn around. Then it became we will see how fast we can go, it was only 6 miles to the lake. It was just meant to be, we couldn’t talk ourselves out of it! We were not disappointed and so happy we did it!

Hike to Alice Lake

Hike 37/52 in our Challenge!

Miles: 13 ♦ Elevation Gain: 1,600′ ♦ Trail Type: Out and Back ♦ Trail: Moderate

Alice Lake (2)

This hike starts along Pettit Lake on the Tin Cup Hiker Trailhead. It begins as a leisurely hike through the forest. It was because of this start that we thought we could do the entire hike quick enough.

Alice Lake (3)

Around 1.2 miles in you will hit a permit box at the beginning of the national wilderness area. Make sure to stop and fill out the free permit and if you are hiking as three individuals, fill out three permits. A ranger mentioned they get funding depending on how many permits are filled out.

The hike stays relatively flat after this . You will reach the hardest stream crossing a little ways after this. We all managed to stay dry, but many did not. People heading back just walked through. It was about ankle deep and a steady stream, but nothing unmanageable. The rocks were not all flat, a bit jagged and slippery!

Alice Lake (5)

When you make it across the hike continues on through the thick forest. This was such a difference to our hikes through the desert in Utah. The smell of the pines was comforting.

Alice Lake (4)

The next stream crossing is an easy one and with amazing views. It is over a thick, carved out log to make a bridge.

Alice Lake (6)

This log is wide enough to not worry about falling in and to pose for some pictures. Just to make sure I still held onto something.

Alice Lake (7)

After this the climb starts. It’s actually pretty steady and you kind of forget because the views around you are pretty amazing. Your lungs might start to complain here, but if you have hiked in the area before, your quads will be happy it isn’t too steep.

Alice (1)

This hike was enjoyable the entire time. With the climb being just a small challenge you were able to appreciate your surroundings and not always looking down. The hike was also diverse. Through the woods, up a mountain, stream crossings and slate switch backs. I couldn’t get over the views. This is what the mountains provide.

Alice (2)

There were only two sections of these rock switch backs and randomly in between another stream crossing. Another good thing about having friends with you when you hike, they can capture those moments that you can’t when you are by yourselves.

Alice (4)

Right after this beautiful greenery, another rocky switch back area.

Alice (5)

Not for long though, you can see the lush green waiting for you. It’s not a lot but a perfectly compact trail awaits you. Our worries of an over crowded trail were over. We ran into a couple groups hiking, but as you can see we had a lot of the trail to ourselves.

Alice (7)

You continue to head up, above these trees to a view of where you came from.

Alice (3)

Then a fun little bridge. At this point you are really close to the first lake.

Alice (6)

The climb is over and the trail stays flat the rest of the hike. A quick walk over a boardwalk.

Alice (8)

The longest, but easiest creek crossing.

Alice (9)

Then at 5.5 miles you reach a lake. We thought it was Alice Lake, but we were wrong. No one knew what it was called or if it even had a name. So we called it, “Not Alice Lake.” It was gorgeous though!

Alice (10)

The perfect view of Idaho’s El Capitan, the clear green and blue water and sunny sky made for a great reward, but we still had more! It was hard to leave. We almost didn’t keep going, but we had to. We had to see what Alice was like if this was this beautiful.

Head towards the small waterfall and you will find a very easy .5 along the lake. There was camping and swim holes along the way.

Alice (12)

Then Alice.

Alice (11)

Alice Lake was a lot bigger than Not Alice Lake, but the same beautiful water and view of El Capitan. The perfect destination for hikers with dogs. Especially if they like to swim and/or play fetch. There were a lot of campers set up for the eclipse. The cliffs made for the perfect secluded camping spots right along the lake and there were plenty of these spots. I would have loved to see this lake first thing in the morning when it’s calm. The reflection must be out of this world.

We found a little section to sit and have a snack while the boys decided to take a dip. It was cold, but refreshing after the hike.

Alice (13)

We spent about an hour hanging out, swimming and chatting. It was a magical place and I could see why everyone raved about it. It lived up to the hype and was one of our favorite lakes. The mileage might deter some people, but take it slow, it’s not that strenuous and so worth it.

Haven’t Had Enough Hiking or Doing Multiple Days

We originally thought that we would do the entire popular Alice Toxaway Lakes Loop. An 18 mile loop that takes you past multiple lakes, but with the late start, we opted to keep it for next time. More popular with a multi day hike, it can definitely be done in a day.

Let me know if you have done the entire loop! I would love to hear about it.

Getting to Trail Head to Hike to Alice Lake

If you don’t get a parking spot right next to the trail head, you will walk by Pettit Lake. Even if you get a spot at the trail head, take a second to check out the lake, it’s beautiful! There is a campground right next to the lake if you wanted more time.

Pettit Lake

After turning off of Hwy. 75 onto Forest Road 208, it’s an easy drive down a well maintained gravel road. The parking lot at the trail head is a decent size, it’s past the campground in the back. If you have to park elsewhere, make sure that you do not just park on the brush. Fires have started that way and in the summer, it can be disastrous.

From Stanley, it’s about a 30 minute drive. From Ketchum (Sun Valley), it’s just over an hour.

Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.984345, -114.871882

Grab A Bite

Hungry after that hike? Check out Papa Brunees for some good pizza and a pint!

Address: 37 Ace of Diamonds St, Stanley, ID 83278

If you drive back to Ketchum Sawtooth Brewery won’t disappoint!

Address: 631 Warm Springs Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340
Love to PIN, use this one!

Hiking in Idaho. A beautiful lake hike in Stanley, Idaho. Read about this amazing hike.


16 thoughts on “Hike to Alice Lake – Stanley, Idaho

  1. My goodness Kim, you all are still hiking? It must be close to two years now.  How much longer will you be on the road?  Love the pictures.    Janis Nelson, Chairwoman & CEOThe Disciples’ Theatre Ministry LLCEvangelist MissionaryThe Church of God in Christ, Inc.Office:  (310) 922-9347 Email:  msjanisnelson@att.net

    CONFIDENTIALITY:  Thise-mail and any attachments are confidential and also may be privileged.  If you are not the named recipient, or have otherwisereceived this communication in error, please delete it from your inbox, notifythe sender immediately, and do not disclose its contents to any other person,use them for any purpose, or store or copy them in any medium. Thank you for your cooperation.


  2. I always look forward to your new posts … they are very well written and the photos are fantastic. On a side note, I’m the blogger with the “hounds”. Long story but deleted my blog a month or so ago, then got the itch to blog again so started it back up a few days ago. I know you were following my WordPress blog before so I thought I’d let you know where I am now at. Of course you know to click my name for the new URL. When do you head south for the warmer temps? Or, you might blog a few weeks after you leave that spot, don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering where my fix of blood hound pictures and stories went. It won’t let me get anywhere when I click on you. Thank you for the kind words! We are in OR for the winter! Catching up on posts and slowing down a bit.


      1. Where you clicking my blog site that you have listed below? That is the blog I deleted never to return. If you click my name it should work.


  3. We are going to visit Idaho this summer and we will be there in mid August. We are so excited! We will be stationed in Sun Valley but plan to hike to Alice Lake. We live in Virginia and have done lots of hiking in our State and have hiked a good portion of the Appalachian Trail. should we take lots of water or is there a chance to get water if we filter it along the way. The longest day trip I have ever done is 12 miles. Is there a lot of humidity this time of year and can you tell us what the temperatures may be in Mid August? We have been to Idaho in Sept. and the days were warm and the nights were cool. We may decide to backpack and sleep at the lake. Would there be a good place to set up a tent for one night?

    Your pictures are beautiful!


    1. When we were there in August, as you can tell from the pictures there was plenty of water. I would still bring water as water is never guaranteed. It was pretty warm for us, but not uncomfortable. I would check weather.com or weather.gov for better weather averages and humidity, but PNW is not known for humidity. There is definitely a lot of great places near the lake for camping! You will have beautiful views. The water was pretty cold when we were there but good for a quick dip! I hope you enjoy this hike as much as we did. Thank you!


    1. They are difficult in their own ways, but I would say Alice is more difficult due to the slightly longer length. At the end of Goat there is a rock scramble and with Alice there are more stream/river crossings and a decent climb. If you were going to choose one for hiking, I would do Alice. If you want to camp and be more secluded Goat. Of course with Alice, you can make it quite longer. Hope that helps!


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