Route: McGown Peak Circumnavigation (ID)

Submitted by Benjamin Monaghan on Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:50am
Location
Idaho, US
Distance
19.9 mi
Vertical Gain
3,507 ft
Description

I've always loved the first glimpse of the Sawtooth Peaks as I drive into the valley, and McGown Peak serves as a majestic cornerstone to the range. Many of the routes in the Sawtooth's tend to be on the longer, more extreme side, so I decided to create one that was a bit more "tame" while also hitting some of the highlights of the range. That being said, this route is no cakewalk, and should only be undertaken by someone with strong ankles and a willingness to push hard on technical climbs and descents!

The route starts at beautiful Stanley Lake, right at the base of McGown Peak. Start at the Stanley Lake Trailhead No. 640, with your hand on the trailhead sign. Take the Elk Loop road for about 0.1 of a mile to the actual beginning of Trail 640. Stay on this trail for just under 1.5 miles, then take a left at the junction onto Trail 528, toward Iron Creek. Stop at the Wilderness Boundary and stick your permit in the box. The trail then rolls through several drainages and climbs two saddles before dropping down toward Iron Creek and the junction with Trail 640 (again). Take a right here, heading toward the beautiful Alpine and Sawtooth lakes. If the weather is clear, you'll get majestic views of Mount Regan and Alpine Peak in the foreground, with the rest of the range stretching southward. Take a right at the next junction to stay on Trail 640 and skirt to the north of Sawtooth Lake. Once you reach the saddle above Sawtooth Lake, it's a (mostly) downhill blast back toward Stanley Lake. Take another right where Trail 640 comes into Observation Pass, once again staying on Trail 640. Follow that trail all the way back down (catching a glimpse of Bridal Veil Falls to your left as you descend) to the original starting point at Stanley Lake Trailhead No. 640, and hit stop when you touch the sign again!