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Fourth of July Lake

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

On July 8th, 2020, Skip, Bandit, Ezra, and I loaded up the F350 with our backpacking gear and made our three-hour trip to Stanley, Idaho. With it being the beginning of July, backpacking to July 4th Lake was a perfect way to celebrate our freedom.

There are tons of activities you can enjoy in Stanley. Hiking hundreds of trails, and most of them have backpacking sites within. You can horseback ride or mountain bike pretty much any of the trails. Kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing are very popular in the area due to the beautiful lake that oversees the ridged Sawtooth Mountains that are snow-covered year-round due to the high elevation.

Remember to enjoy the scenery while exploring the area. There are so many vivid views with a variety of colors and textures with every footstep. There are Red Columbines, Salmonberry, western Trillium, Green Alder, and all the wildflowers on every trail.

You may also encounter a Beaver on the river, Elk, deer, a red fox on a trail, and of course, squirrels in every tree. With being out in the wilderness, always make sure you pay attention to your surroundings and be alert for dangerous animals that you may encounter. We always recommend carrying bear spray while hiking.

Ditch the headphones and listen to the birds chirping and the streams that you will encounter. Nature is beautiful, and it's a time for serenity and peace. Plus, for your safety.

As Stanley, Idaho becomes more popular because of its beauty and all the activities accessible in the area. The beautiful town, lakes, trails, and rivers are becoming overly crowded with tourists, and people are starting to not take care of their trash and human waste. Please click HERE to learn about the Leave no Trace behind Project.

The area of Stanley has excellent Boon Dock camping "Camping in non-designated areas" and backpacking sites near lakes and within the trails, but always camp 200 feet away from any body of water. We always try to camp for free when possible. If you Google Campgrounds in Stanley, Idaho, a ton of campgrounds will pop up.

Unfortunately, I could not find a link to all campgrounds. Click HERE to plan your next trip and read about any information you may need to know before heading up the mountain.

Directions to the Trailhead

  • From Red Fish Lodge, drive south on Highway 75.

  • You will come up to Fourth of July Road on your left.

  • I am not technically sure how many miles from Red Fish lodge the road is, but it is not far.

  • Keep your eye out for the little green road sign on your left.

  • At this point, you will take a 10-mile gravel road that is rather bumpy and dusty.

  • A few years ago, a massive fire came through this area, so most of the scenery is charred and destressed, but I find it absolutely beautiful.

  • If you are from Idaho or were in the state during this time, you understand how much it devastated and forever changed the area.

  • On the right-hand side (eastern side), you will see a large parking lot, and that is where the trailhead is located.

  • The trail connects to other trails that lead to multiple other alpine lakes, so the parking lot is rather busy.

  • We had to park on the side of the road right outside of the parking lot.

There is a vault toilet at the trailhead and the only one in the area. Please use it or adequately dispose of your waste if need be, on your hike.

Here, always fill out the hiking/overnight log for your safety if something were to happen. It is located at the board that has the map posted.

Trail Guide:

The trail is marked very well as long as you read signs and stay on the path. The forest service has done a beautiful job in keeping the tracks maintained and cleaned.

The trail is mainly on dirt and gravel. You climb 900 feet in elevation in about two miles, so there is a little bit of an incline. Plus, you will need to cross a handful of beautiful creeks. They were relatively easy to travel, and most of them had bridges placed across. It was nice to dip our feet in occasionally since we hike with sandals. Plus, they allowed Bandit to get drinks throughout the entire hike and not rely on us.

The first part of the trail is hiking through the forest taken by the fire a few years ago. Seeing the trees that were charred close up was heartbreaking and emotional but so beautiful.

The rest of the hike was through lushes' green forest with tons of wildflowers along the trail.

This trail was a lot easier to hike than we thought it was going to be. This was a relief because I was carrying three people to camp, and Skip held our daughter. Anything more extensive would have been too much on us.

Once you reach Alpine lake, you cannot help but stand there in awe. Typically, Alpine lakes are small and crowded by the forest. This lake was large and had two different sets of mountains sitting behind. Making picture taking an all-day activity.

Skip spent the evening fly fishing, Bandit spent the evening scaring away all the deer that came into our campsite, and Ezra and I watched the lake as the sun went down and the mountains reflected off the water.

The following morning was chilly, but nothing some hot coffee and breakfast couldn't take care of. Seeing the mountains reflecting off the lake early in the morning when the fog is rising off was absolutely breathtaking.

The mosquitos were awful near the lake. Make sure you bring a couple cans of bug spray, or you will leave the lake covered.

Overall, this was such a fantastic hike and a beautiful and easy place to backpack in with a toddler. We highly recommend trying this hike out if you are new to backpacking. With us having a toddler, we tend to backpack in places that are easy enough to leave if there were an emergency.

Click HERE to watch our youtube video of this fun backpacking trip.

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