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Sawtooth National Recreation Area

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Overview

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (Sawtooth NRA) consists of 756,000 acres of scenic mountain country. The Sawtooth NRA has over 700 miles of trails, 40 peaks rising over 10,000 feet and 300 plus high mountain lakes that add to the spectacular scenery and vistas. Recreational pursuits include outdoor activities of camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, boating and canoeing, rafting, observing nature, photographing and bicycling.

Local Info

This area is also home to the Boulder-White Cloud mountains, some of the most stunningly beautiful mountains in the US. They were also home to some incredible mountain biking until a recently signed wilderness bill (August 7, 2015) permanently banned all forms of mechanized travel, including mountain bikes. Read about the experience of Brian Smith, an MTB Project Content Manager who embarked on a last-minute, 26 hour road trip to experience the Boulder-White Clouds by bike, literally moments before President Obama ended mountain biking in that area forever.

There are still ways to experience the area, however. One ride that's still legal is the Big-Little Boulder Loop. This big backcountry adventure gets you pretty high up in the Whitecloud mountains, with a great descent back down.

Recommended Routes in Sawtooth National Recreation Area - 17

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Favorite The big finale of Williams Creek.
Intermediate

Fisher Creek Loop

17.7 mi 28.5 km 2,011' Up 612.91 m Up 2,013' Down 613.68 m Down

Sun Valley, ID
Favorite Great views of the Sawtooth Mountains
Intermediate/Difficult

Elk Mountain Loop

11.4 mi 18.4 km 1,063' Up 323.89 m Up 1,061' Down 323.49 m Down

Challis, ID
Favorite The top of Little Casino with the Sawtooths in the background
Very Difficult

Little Casino - Big Casino Loop

20.3 mi 32.7 km 3,605' Up 1098.83 m Up 3,587' Down 1093.41 m Down

Challis, ID
Favorite The last bit of the Castle Divide route is through open sage meadows.
Difficult

Big-Little Boulder Loop

22.4 mi 36.0 km 3,466' Up 1056.33 m Up 3,500' Down 1066.65 m Down

Sun Valley, ID
Favorite Such a mellow and relaxing ride.
Difficult

Galena Grinder - IMBA EPIC

25.6 mi 41.1 km 3,056' Up 931.47 m Up 3,047' Down 928.59 m Down

Sun Valley, ID
Favorite The last bit of the Castle Divide route is through open sage meadows.
Difficult

Idaho Trail Segment 5

37.3 mi 60.0 km 4,705' Up 1433.94 m Up 3,027' Down 922.7 m Down

Sun Valley, ID
Favorite Very steep, sometimes technical climb at the beginning (clockwise) of the route.
Difficult

Redfish Lake Loop

13.9 mi 22.3 km 1,977' Up 602.58 m Up 1,956' Down 596.14 m Down

Challis, ID
Favorite View from east fork of Baker Creek Lookout.
Intermediate

Curly's Loop

12.1 mi 19.5 km 1,657' Up 504.97 m Up 1,658' Down 505.49 m Down

Sun Valley, ID
Favorite Dropping in!
Difficult

Big Smoky Trail

18.4 mi 29.6 km 234' Up 71.4 m Up 2,936' Down 894.77 m Down

Sun Valley, ID

Sawtooth National Recreation Area Biking

  • 742 Miles 1,194 Kilometers of Trail
  • 18 Recommended Routes
  • 13 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 35 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 36 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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Areas Within Sawtooth National Recreation Area

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Trails in Sawtooth National Recreation Area - 66

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6.4 mi 10.2 km #1Spring Creek Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Intermediate/Difficult
Sun Valley, ID 10 
2.2 mi 3.5 km #2Rip and Tear
Intermediate
Sun Valley, ID
Intermediate
Sun Valley, ID
6.6 mi 10.6 km #3Little Boulder Creek
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
0.6 mi 0.9 km #4Mine Shaft
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
6.7 mi 10.8 km #5Williams Creek
Intermediate
Sun Valley, ID
Intermediate
Sun Valley, ID
11.5 mi 18.4 km #6Germania Creek Trail
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
8.9 mi 14.3 km #7Livingston Mill - Castle Divide Trail (North Segment)
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
13.0 mi 20.9 km #8Grand Prize
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
14.0 mi 22.6 km #9Martin-Big Casino
Very Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Very Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
5.5 mi 8.8 km #10Alturas Creek
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID
Difficult
Sun Valley, ID

Photos of Sawtooth National Recreation Area - 132

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Descending switchbacks below the face of Castle Peak.
Jul 27, 2014 near Sun Valley, ID
The top of Little Casino with the Sawtooths in the background
Sep 8, 2014 near Challis, ID
The views on Sunny Gulch are to die for!
Jul 5, 2017 near Challis, ID
Pedaling along Chamberlain Creek
Jul 27, 2014 near Sun Valley, ID
Such a mellow and relaxing ride.
Jul 5, 2017 near Sun Valley, ID
Passing the outlet to Fourth of July Lake
Jul 27, 2014 near Sun Valley, ID
Very steep, sometimes technical climb at the beginning (clockwise) of the route.
Aug 28, 2020 near Sun Valley, ID
Starting the ridge crossing
Jul 15, 2020 near Challis, ID