You’ll gain more than 3,000 feet of elevation in 4.5 miles on this popular trek to West Pass. Located north of Ketchum in the Boulder Mountains, the challenging dayhike showcases some of Idaho’s best alpine scenery and travels through mountain goat and elk habitat. From the trailhead, the route climbs gradually through dense stringer timber and streamside meadows along the North Fork of the Big Wood River. (You’ll also pass views of the ragged crest of the Boulder Mountains and marshy areas inhabited by croaking frogs and darting brook trout.)
Near mile 2, the trail turns sharply to the northeast and begins a sustained climb to West Pass through a thick forest of Douglas fir and aspen. The winding path skirts waterfalls, avalanche chutes and scree slopes before finally topping out at 10,030 feet on the windswept pass. Stop for lunch and soak up the 360-degree views of the Boulder Mountains. Look northeast to find the rocky, 11,714-foot summit of Ryan Peak, the tallest mountain in the Boulders, and a worthwhile scramble for hikers with a little extra energy to burn.
INFO: Sawtooth National Recreation Area, (208) 727-5000; fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth/
-Mapped by Jason Kauffman