There are three different ways that you can get good views of Castle Peak. Here we feature the Little Boulder Creek Trail 628 because it’s the most direct way and offers the best views of Castle Peak, in my opinion. You can also see Castle Peak from different angles by way of Fourth of July Lake or Big Boulder Creek (Livingston) Trailheads.
The Little Boulder Creek Trail begins low at the East Fork Salmon River. It climbs quickly through a dry area of rolling hills and sagebrush steppe as it works toward the Sawtooth National Recreation Area boundary. It’s best to start early in the day because this section of the trail can be hot. The section is also the steepest.
Once the trail reaches the SNRA boundary, it becomes more gradual. At about 3.5 miles, the trail turns a corner and offers the first stunning view of Castle Peak. From here the trail passes through a series of meadows, filled with willows and surrounded by lodgepole pines. Views of Castle Peak grow more impressive as the trail get closer.
At 6.5 miles, Trail 628 reaches a junction with Trail 47. You can turn around here or veer right to get to Boulder Chain Lakes, Frog Lake and Big Boulder Lakes. Veer left and you can get to Baker Lake, Castle Lake and Castle Divide.
Between Clayton and Challis, turn off Highway 75 at the East Fork Salmon River. Drive 20.5 miles and look for the trailhead for Little Boulder Creek on the left side (east) of the road. The trail begins another mile down the road. It was rerouted after a private landowner blocked access several years ago.
If your party includes more than one person, drop the others off where the trail actually begins and take your car back to the trailhead parking area.
Location: White Clouds Wilderness
Status: Designated wilderness
Maps: Sawtooth National Forest, SNRA, Ketchum & Fairfield Districts; or Google Maps
13 miles round trip
USGS Boulder Chain Lakes and Bowery Creek
Trails of the Sawtooth & White Cloud Mountains