Challis, ID: North Fork Big Creek

Visit meadow-rimmed lakes in Salmon National Forest.

With so much to savor—flowers, abundant wildlife, and first-rate mountain scenery—it's hard to fathom why Idaho's Lemhi Mountains are so unknown. This challenging 29-mile semi-loop hits many of the highlights. Hike 7 miles north along North Fork Big Creek over two tricky stream crossings to the Park Fork Trail junction. Go left past an impressive (but unnamed) waterfall to Devils Basin, then climb another mile to a pass. Turn right; you'll descend 1.5 miles, then head northeast up and over two spectacular 10,000-foot passes (with views of the distant Lost River Range) and drop to meadow-rimmed Yellow Lake. After climbing a mile over another view-packed ridge, return to North Fork Big Creek via the Park Fork Trail. Finish with a side trip from Park Fork junction to Yellow Peak before completing the loop.
Info: Challis Ranger District: (208) 879-4321; no permits required.
-Hike provided by Doug Lorain, author of Backpacking Idaho (Wilderness Press)



Location: 44.4415017, -113.5994482