White Cloud Mountains Wilderness Trek (Idaho)

DISTANCE (round-trip)

32 Mi (51km)



3-4 days


Sawtooth Mountains


Magical, Unforgettable Idaho

The White Cloud Mountains are one of the most recent wilderness areas in the country, designated in 2015. Most people associate Idaho politics with conservatism and not environmentalism but the society in this great state has a soft spot for wilderness.

Smaller than the Frank Church Creek Wilderness and even the Sawtooths, The White Cloud Mountains are every bit as special. Lacking the Hollywood marketing, this wilderness is still relatively unknown and these mountains are relatively un-visited.

The mountains lay claim to Idaho’s highest altitude lake and her many mountain peaks stretch more than 10,000 feet into the air. Headwaters for the Salmon River, the highest altitude spawning grounds for Salmon, Steelhead, and Bulltrout are found here.

 The White Cloud Loop offers a spectacular hike through areas most people are unaware exist. Climbing peaks over 10,000 feet high, this trail is not to be done by those who have never climbed a mountain before. The solitude alone makes the trek difficult enough and perfect for Slick and Twisted readers.

If you are a fishermen, the many trout lakes and rivers makes for some of the country’s best backcountry fishing. Idaho needs to be on every backpacker’s list and this trail is a perfect long weekend loop.

When to go

Summer is the absolute best time to visit. The high altitudes means heavy snows, making it impossible to even get to the trailhead. 

Getting there

About one hour South of Stanley, Idaho. Follow 75 South, after about 15 miles, turn left onto Forest road 209 (Fourth of July Creek Rd). Look for parking at Fourth of July Trail Head, where the road ends. 

Know before you go

  • The trail can be extremely remote, let others know where you are going.
  • Immaculate headwaters begin in the White cloud Mountains, be sure to enjoy them! 
  • Hang all your food and pack bear spray, there are reports of bears eating hiker’s provisions.

For more information:

One of the many high altitude lakes in The White Cloud Mountains. Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Leaflet

The iconic white color of the Wilderness area. Photo credit: wilderness.org

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

About the author


Addicted to the dark areas on light pollution maps, I focus on documenting the world's remote spaces. I hope to inspire others to be an active member of the ecosystem all around us. Our most valuable resources, clean air, clean water, and open spaces are being parceled off and destroyed at an alarming rate. Let's enjoy Earth and share it with future generations. You can check out my blog Not A Guide Book


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