DirectionsThe trailhead is located just across the street from the Rapid River Fish Hatchery. Going north on US-95, turn left (west) onto a paved road about 5 miles south of Riggins (look for the sign pointing to the hatchery). Drive about 3 miles to a curve in the road just before the picnic area at the hatchery.
This was a beautiful hike.
The trail begins as a two wheel track that immediately climbs up about 100 yards at which point you pass through a gate. The trail stays up along the ridge for about a half mile winding along an open hillside and above some rocky cliffs. About 3/4 mile in you pass a small creek - Thorn Gulch, then the trail drops down to the river - which was a very welcome relief because it was a bit hot the day we hiked out. The trail winds along the river and at about a mile and a half you cross the first bridge. From here the hike basically winds along the river, sometimes climbing above up hillsides or below moss covered rocks. Just great, always a good view, nice and cool by the river, and quite moderate - not a tough hike.
At 4 miles the trail crosses back to the west side of the river on another sturdy bridge. I would suggest filling up on water here if you haven't already. I had an unfortunate bout of heat exhaustion once past this bridge -it was the first time i have ever had it, and it was awful. Past the bridge the trail climbs up and you come to a junction of trails. Below the trails near the west fork there are some campsites. Follow the trail to the right up the west fork (it eventually meets up with a trail to the seven devils). The trail climbs up an open hillside "400 ft in .5mile." At 5.5 miles a side trail crosses the creek and there is a great large campsite. This is in Potters Flats, near Potters Cabin which is up the side trail.
Get a good map, and you could go quite a bit further on this hike. I highly reccomend Trails of Western Idaho by margaret Fuller - she's great. She also has a book on the Sawtooths. There are many opportunities for linking to other hikes, so it is really easy to make it as long or as short as you like. And, when you finish the hike we highly reccomend stopping to eat in Riggins at "Cattlemans Cafe" - very good, and huge portions.