Northwest Hiking Trails

Imogene Lake, Sawtooth Wilderness

Imogene LkImogene is a beautiful lake with a complex shoreline, worthy of hours of exploration, as are its family of 15 lakes and pools downstream from it.

Photo: Imogene Lake from the S.

There are two ways into Imogene, and I'm recommending this way based on two assumptions: (1) that most of you have a vehicle that can handle a rough road, and (2) that most of you would prefer to reach the lake with no unnecessary elevation gain. The alternative, Yellow Belly route involves an extra 1,000' of climbing.

So, this trip report begins on Hell Roaring Creek, where the trail starts out very gradually. Straight ahead are the Finger of Fate and the Arrowhead. In 1.8 miles, you will reach the tree-lined Hell Roaring Lake, having gained less than 200'. Continue along the left (south) bank and start climbing. The trail makes short work of gaining about 600', then levels off in the Imogene valley.

After passing some smaller lakes, you will reach Imogene at 5.4 miles. The trail continues a deceivingly short but somewhat grueling distance to Toxaway Lake, and forms an excellent one-way trip via Twin Lakes and ending at Pettit Lake Trailhead.

Stats: 5.4 miles, elevation gain 1220', high point (the lake) 8436'.

Getting there: The trail begins at the Hell Roaring Creek Upper Trailhead. In spring and early summer, inquire locally about the condition of the road to the Upper Trailhead, and about crossing Hell Roaring Creek there. If either are impassible, or you're afraid of scratching that new Land Rover, then begin the hike at the Hell Roaring Lower Trailhead on the Salmon River, and add 4 miles to the hike.

Note: This is backcountry wilderness travel. Any trail can become very dangerous in winter conditions. You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards and taking the necessary precautions. Please read Terms of Use.

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