Baker Lake Trail

Expect to meet others on the trail, especially families with young children carrying fishing poles on a sunny summer weekend, as you hike the Baker Lake trail that zig zags approximately 1.9 miles from the trailhead to the lake gaining ~850 feet.


  • Start: 7,966′ (2428 m)
  • Lake: 8,810′ (2685 m)
  • Distance: 3.88 miles (6.2 km)
  • Vertical: 844′ (257 m)
  • Total moving time: 1:34
  • Total time: 2:00

Baker Lake is in the Smoky Mountains in Blaine County Idaho. In my humble opinion, this is a relatively easy, short hike… that takes you to a stunning lake.


To Baker Lake Trail from Ketchum, Idaho head north on highway 75 approximately 15.4 miles until you come to the Baker Creek turn off on forest road 162. Continue down the dirt road approximately 9.6 miles till you get to the trailhead parking.

It will take about one hour to drive 25 miles from Ketchum.

This trailhead is also were you access the Osberg Ridge trail.

baker lake trail driving directions


The Baker Creek Lake hike starts from the trailhead parking (which, yes, has an outhouse) by using the bridge that crosses the creek (which is a great watering hole for the dog when you finish).

You head up the valley for 0.4 miles till the first switchback.

While there are trees on this hike, most of them are burnt and offer very little shade. The earlier in the day you start during the summer months, the better.

baker lake hike burnt trees

This is a relatively gradual trail that switchbacks up to the lake.

The second switchback has you facing north towards the Boulder White Cloud mountains.

On the third switchback you will cross the creek using a log that has been sawed flat across the top to make for an easy crossing. It is a bit narrow.

The fourth switchback is a short 0.2 miles long.

The final fifth switchback is about 0.6 miles till you get to the lake.

Along the way you will see the trail sign to access the Apollo Creek Trail 139.

apollo creek trail 139

View of 10,174′ Baker Peak from the final switchback heading up to Baker Lake.

baker peak from the baker lake trail


This is why we did the hike.

Here is the view of Baker Lake (before the dog jumped in).

baker lake

Baker Lake with dog.

baker lake with dog



At least there were when we hiked in mid-August. This was an exceptional year for snow and I suspect that is why we are still seeing flowers this late in the season in the Wood River Valley and beyond.

baker creek trail flowers

With the flowers are plenty of trees – mostly burnt trees as the result of 2013 Beaver Creek Fire.

baker creek trail flowers trees


As Baker Lake is located in the Smoky Mountains in the Sawtooth National Forest, dogs must be on leash while on trails from July 1st through Labor Day.

Speaking of dogs. Leash came off when he went swimming in Baker Lake.


I don’t recommend riding a bike on this trail even though the signage indicates they are allowed.

There are a few spots on the trail where the conditions are ‘tricky’.

Crossing over the bridge at the trailhead and heading up to the first stand of burnt trees there is some loose rocks.

Approximately 0.5 miles in after the second switchback, there is another loose rocky section.

baker lake trail mountain bikes

Also, the area around the log crossing is a little bit sketchy.

With that said, there is only ~0.25 miles of the trail that I think qualifies as ‘less than ideal’ for biking.

The trail is do-able on a mountain bike.

Your choice.

Really, I am being a NIMBY. The trail is busy enough with hikers, I can’t imagine adding bikes to the mix. Maybe during the week or the shoulder seasons, but not on summer weekends.

Besides, Osberg Ridge trail is right next door and that it much better suited for mountain bikes.


More than just a dog swimming in Baker Lake. Also includes an “Idaho traffic jam” – approximately 3 minutes of sheep coming down the road.



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