Hikes in the Great Divide Area

Aldous and Hancock Lakes
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: Merge off Interstate 15 at Dubois and proceed east on County Road A2. Travel 27 miles to a fork in the road and bear north towards Kilgore. At Kilgore, turn left at the T intersection and continue 0.3 miles to a right turn leading across Camas Meadows. From this turn, drive 4.2 miles to a road junction and keep right as the road becomes Forest Road (FR) 026. At the junction with FR 026 and FR 027, bear right on FR 027 and proceed 6 miles to the Ching Creek Trailhead and the trail leading north.

This well-maintained trail wanders in and out of thick forests and small meadows on the climb to Aldous and Hancock Lakes. Constantly passing by a variety of wildflowers, hikers will reach Aldous Lake at the 1.5-mile mark. Situated at 7,340 feet and surrounded by trees, Aldous Lake has become a popular fishing destination. Continuing northeast around Aldous Lake, climb steeply 1 mile to Hancock Lake. This lake sits in a bowl formed in an old landslide. Today, the lake is surrounded by old trees, and above the lake, hikers can view the Centennial Mountains and Continental Divide ridge. Best months for hiking are mid-June through mid-Septemer.

Salamander Lake Loop
Distance: 9 mile loop
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: Exiting off Interstate 15 at Dubois, merge onto County Road A2 at the eastern edge of town. Proceed 27 miles and bear north (left) towards Kilgore. Continuing through Kilgore, turn left at the T intersection and drive to the road junction of Forest Roads (FR) 026 and 02. Bearing left on FR 026, drive 0.75 miles and turn right on FR 029 (Cottonwood Creek Road). Locate the undeveloped trailhead in approximately 2 miles.

A variety of wildflowers surround hikers on this loop trail winding through meadows to Salamander Lake near the Continental Divide. Starting out on Trail Creek Trail, keep right at the junction for Lake Creek Trail and continue to another junction at the 1.5-mile mark. Stay to the right and follow the trail as it crosses Trail Creek, climbs up to wildflower meadows, and descends to Salamander Lake at the 4.2-mile mark. Hiking along the lake’s south (left) shore, locate a trail junction and proceed along the right “Lake Creek” fork across the Salamander Creek Bridge. At the bridge, utilize tree blazes to locate the trail heading into the forest and to a ridge. This ridge offers spectacular views into Montana. At the 4.8-mile mark, walk past the sign indicating the Divide Trail and follow the blazed trees to another large meadow. As the trail continues to climb up and down ridges, hikers will eventually reach another trail junction near the Salamander Creek crossing. Follow the well-used trail on the left over Salamander Creek Bridge leading back to the trailhead in 1.5 miles. Best months for hiking are mid-June to mid-October.

Optional Hikes: At the junction located at the 1.5-mile mark, hikers can veer left and head to Salamander Lake along this route. Although this trail cuts the trip’s length by 1.25 miles, the scenery is not as breathtaking along this route. Another option is to leave the main trail at the 4.8-mile mark and head at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees up to the Continental Divide Trail. Hikers will reach the Divide about 1,000 feet up from the main trail and can continue hiking in either direction along the divide for views of the meadows below.

Sawtell Peak – Rock Creek Basin
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: Travel 85 miles north of Idaho Falls along US Highway 20 and turn onto the marked Forest Road (FR) 024 (Sawtell Peak Road). Proceed 12 miles to the trailhead located at a small turnout in the road.

Traveling on or near the Continental Divide throughout the entire trek, hikers will access incredible views of the Teton and Centennial Mountains while overlooking Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Starting out on an old road, hikers will pass by numerous wildflower fields and view the 9,866-foot Sawtell Peak rising in the distance. After crossing over a rocky avalanche area, the trail begins descending and reaches Rock Creek Basin at the 4-mile mark. The area is filled with a variety of rock types and colors as well as wildlife. Moose, elk, and deer commonly frequent the area, and grizzly bear sightings are rising. Best months for hiking are mid-July through September.

Targhee Creek
Distance: 12.4 miles roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: On US Highway 20, drive north past Ashton into Island Park and across Henrys Lake Flat. Ignoring the junction with State Highway 287, proceed 2.2 miles and bear left onto the dirt road marked “Targhee Creek Trail.” Locate the trailhead in approximately 1 mile.

Fine views of Targhee Peak and Bald Peak await hikers on this trek leading through a canyon lined with forests and limestone cliffs, past alpine meadows, and up to several scenic alpine lakes. Starting out gently from the trailhead, hikers should keep going straight at the 0.8-mile trail junction with Dry Fork and cross Targhee Creek at the 2.3-mile mark. Climbing upwards, reach another crossing of Targhee Creek at the 3.2-mile mark and begin heading up the canyon through a thick forest. At the 4.2-mile mark, hikers will reach a small meadow where a waterfall can be found, and the 4.7-mile mark brings hikers to a third and final crossing of Targhee Creek. After hiking a total of 6 miles, hikers should bear right (east) on Watkins Creek Trail to locate numerous alpine lakes housed within the Targhee Basin. Passing by the first unnamed lake situated to the right of the trail, locate the seasonal Clark Lake at the 6.2-mile mark. Best months for hiking are July and August. Bear safety precautions should be taken at all times as grizzly bears heavily populate the area.

Optional Hikes: Continuing cross-country, hikers can access four scenic lakes situated above Clark Lake. Adventurous hikers can also opt to climb any of the numerous mountainsides lining Targhee Basin. From the top of these peaks, hikers will be able to view Yellowstone National Park and the Teton, Gravelly, and Centennial Mountains.

A second optional hike allows hikers to make a loop. At the trip’s 6-mile mark, hikers should bear left on Targhee Creek Trail at the Continental Divide Trail junction. This trail leads down to Dry Fork Trail, which then loops back to the Targhee Creek Trail 0.8 miles from the trailhead.

Webber Creek
Distance: 18 miles roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: At Dubois, merge off Interstate 15 onto State Highway 22 and drive 6 miles west before bearing right (north) onto a county road. Continue 22.5 miles up this road and turn onto Forest Road (FR) 196 (Webber Creek Road). Locate Trail 111 leaving upstream at the Webber Creek Trailhead in approximately 5 miles.

The jagged Italian peaks frame this hike near the Continental Divide as hikers climb through Webber Creek Canyon up to alpine lakes hidden between rugged mountain ridges of Idaho and Montana. Beginning in a narrow, forested canyon, climb 4 miles to a trail junction with the South Fork of Webber Creek. Ignoring this junction, continue up the North Fork trail as views of the glacial Webber Peak and Scott Peak line the horizon. At 7.1 miles, merge left onto Trail 034 and quickly reach the first lake in just 0.6 miles. Continue another 0.6 miles to reach the second lake and 1.3 miles to reach the upper lake situated at an elevation of 9,560 feet. Limestone cliffs line this trail, and the rugged canyon wall to the right of Trail 034 is the Continental Divide. Best months for hiking are July to October. Bear safety precautions should be taken as grizzly bears are known to inhabit the area.

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