Alice-Toxaway Lakes Loop (Idaho)
We all have those formative life experiences, the ones that either teach us a lesson about ourselves or the world around us, or maybe both at the same time. Sometimes these are stressful situations (like our trip to Echo Rock) but sometimes these experiences are so positive that they change your outlook on yourself, your partner and your life goals.
This trail has so much to offer for all types of adventurers. Looking for a challenging but doable day hike? Maybe hoping to get away for a multi-night backpacking weekend? Are you insane and enjoy running 20 miles up a mountain “because it’s fun”? All of these are options when you’re on the Alice Toxaway Lakes Loop.
Be Prepared for Company
As with all popular and easily accessible trails, expect to see other people on this loop. You’ll often run into other hikers, backpackers, and (as I mentioned above) crazy people who run because it’s fun. Depending on the time of year, you might even be sharing the trail with horses; during these months it becomes a dog-on-leash trail, so keep that in mind when making your plans. We have never had a problem finding a campsite, as both Alice and Toxaway Lakes are huge, but remember that the closer to the water you are, the more mosquitos you will have to deal with.
Bring Hiking Sandals
There are two types of people. The ones who say “YAY, river crossings!” and the ones who groan and grumble as they take off their pack to switch out their boots with sandals. I am part of the former group, because I absolutely love the feeling of ice-cold river water on my dirty, sweaty feet, plus it’s fun to break up the monotony of hot, rocky trails with some extra cold H2O.
Alice Toxaway Lakes Loop has no shortage of river crossings, and depending on the time of year you’re there, they can be quite deep. Our first time on the trail was over 4th of July weekend, and our last 3 miles basically consisted of crossing the same river eight times. Last year we warned our friends about the multiple crossings, but by the time our early September trip rolled around, snow melt season was over and we had dry boots the whole hike.
In the Idaho Sawtooths, you could see all four seasons over the course of an hour; no matter the time of year you are planning to go, be prepared for whatever weather and terrain mother nature could have in store for you.
Last year we were snoozing in hammocks after taking a dip in Alice Lake, when a ranger came over and questioned us about our fire building and waste disposal habits. She had gotten a tip that a group consisting of four people and two dogs had left food wrappers lying around a campsite that day, on top of some unruly behavior and a not-so-safe campfire etiquette the night before. We weren’t the group she was looking for (I didn’t even have to use my Jedi mind powers to convince her), but hearing her talk about the disrespect those people had for the shared wilderness… it sort of baffled me.
Everyone is out there to have a good time, and enjoy the natural beauty without compromising it. If you’re not sure about waste disposal (I’m talking about poop) here is a fabulous guide from Gizmodo: How to Poop in the Woods. For campfire safety info, I’ll defur (bear pun intended) to my all-time favorite mascot, Smokey Bear.
The Alice-Toxaway Lake Loop in the Sawtooths changed my life. Not only was it my first multi-night backpacking trip, it was my first alpine hiking experience, and the first time I saw how Theanie reacts to horses on the trail (she wants to chase them). This was the trip that made me realize I would rather be dirty on top of a mountain than clean pretty much anywhere else. This was the trip that made me a backpacker, and I’m really looking forward to hiking this trail again!
P.S. A special thanks to my amazing boyfriend, who lets me use his GoPro footage and the occasional picture in my videos and blog posts. He’s also the one who got me into backpacking, so technically without him this blog wouldn’t exist. Love you BB 🙂