The Lakes Loop Hike
in the Ruby Mountains

The Lakes Loop Hike in the Ruby Mountains is the best loop hike that I know of in the Rubies. The Lakes Loop hike is a 19 mile loop hike with Echo Lake located in the middle of the hike. This hike is around half on and half off trail and will show you the most popular canyons as few people see them. You can see 9 of the Rubies 14 named lakes, plus beaver dams and no name lakes. This hike also takes you through prime habitat for mountain goats, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, Himalayan snowcock, and mule deer to name some of the wildlife that I have seen on this hike.

Named lakes that you can see on this hike are.(In Viewing Order)

  • Island Lake
  • Goat Lake
  • Box Lake
  • Echo Lake
  • Favre
  • Castle
  • Liberty
  • Lamoille Lake
  • Dollar Lakes

    There are also no named lakes in Box and Right Fork Canyons and beaver dams in Thomas and Right Fork Canyons and on Kleckner Creek.

    The time needed for this hike can vary greatly. I have done it twice taking one night and two days of hiking. If you want to take your time and do some fishing and see the sights I would recommend at least two nights and probably three. You could spend the first night at the back of Thomas or Right Fork Canyons. The second night could be at Echo Lake with the third night at Favre Lake. This should give you plenty of time to explore.

    1st half of the hike

    Island Lake, Thomas Canyon. Right Fork Canyon, Echo Lake

    Start the Lakes Loop Hike from the end of the road in Lamoille canyon and take the 2 mile trail to Island Lake. You will not have trail again until you get to Box Canyon on the second half of the hike. From Island Lake hike to the marches above the lake to the west and then climb to the pass above the marches (Island Lake photo on the right). This pass is the highest point on the hike at over 10,800 feet and will drop you into Thomas Canyon. The chute dropping into Thomas Canyon is the roughest part of the hike and is typical of many places in the Rubies.

    Work your way down the chute. There are cliffs below so hiking straight down will not work. The easiest way to navigate this is to hike down through the trees to the cliff and then follow the cliffs down the canyon (North) for around 200 yards until you can take the break through the cliffs. Now the hardest part of the hike is over.

    From here hike along the back of Thomas Canyon to the beaver pond below Mount Fitzgerald at around 9500 feet in elevation (Pass above Island Lake photo on the right). Then climb to the pass above, between Thomas and Right Fork Canyons. From this pass you will want to head to the other side of Right Fork Canyon and take another pass in the back of Right Fork and go into Box Canyon (Pass below Mt. Fitzgerald photo on the right). I like to drop down and hike along the boulder line to get to the other side of Right Fork Canyon.

    Once in Right Fork Canyon there is a spring that is a good place for water if you need it. This springs location is listed on the .kml file that you can download from this site and view in Google Earth. This is also a good canyon to spend the night if you are doing this hike in 2-3 nights. If you are making this a one night trip then I suggest you keep going and spend the night above Echo Lake as Echo Lake is the halfway point of the hike. If you do spend the night in this canyon Goat Lake is a great place to camp.

    As you stand on the ridge between Right Fork and Box canyon you have a choice to go to Box or Echo Lake. If you want to go to Box Lake hike up the ridge to the east. Once on top of this peak head south along the ridgeline. As you get close to the end of this ridge Box Lake will come into view. Head out of here the same way you came in and get back the pass between Right Fork and Box Canyon were you came up.

    Now you are on your way to Echo Lake. There is detailed information on getting to Echo Lake on the Echo Lake page on this site. Facing the small no name lake below, look toward the ridge to your right (West). There is a small pile of rocks and cliffs on this ridge, head toward the lower side of these rocks. Once you arrive at the ridge below the rocks head across to the next slope doing your best to keep your elevation the same. This part of the hike is on a steep slope of short sage brush. Keep your elevation the same the best you can until you come to the small cliffs in front and above. The best thing to do here is drop down below the cliffs and stay on solid ground. Stay as close to the bottom of the cliffs as you can and keep dropping down until you can start working your way back up to the saddle above Echo Lake.

    2nd half of the hike

    Box Canyon, Kleckner Creek, Favre, Liberty, Lamoille, Dollar Lakes.

    When leaving Echo Lake head out the way you came in above Echo Lake. Then follow the drainage all the way to the bottom of Box Canyon. On your way down to Box Canyon you will see the pass that you want to head for (Pass into Kleckner Creek photo on the right). Once you on the bottom of Box Canyon cross the creek and head up the canyon (East). Around 3/4 of a mile up the canyon you can pick up a trail that will take you up the canyon and over the pass. Once you find the trail in Box Canyon you will have trail the rest of the way to your car.

    Once on the pass follow the trail down to Kleckner Creek and follow the trail up the canyon to Favre Lake. At Favre Lake you will run into the Ruby Crest Trail. You could follow the Ruby Crest Trail up to Liberty Lake or hike along the south side of Favre Lake and use the good trail behind the lake to go to Liberty Lake. I prefer the trail behind Favre because it gives a great view of the lake and canyon. Favre Lake is also a great place to camp as there are nice camp sites along the south side of the lake.

    The trail behind Favre Lake will take you right to the drainage of Liberty Lake. From here you will catch the Ruby Crest Trail again and follow it all the way to the roads end in Lamoille Canyon. This trail will lead you over Liberty Pass and down to Lamoille and then Dollar Lakes. From Favre Lake to the parking lot at the end of the road in Lamoille Canyon is some of the best scenery the Rubies has to offer. The overlook above Liberty Lake is especially spectacular any time of the year.

    Tips for the Lakes loop Hike.

  • Download and use the .kml file on the right of this page to get a good idea where you should be going. This .kml has photos and waypoints to help with the hike.
  • Remember this is a 19 mile hike when done right and half of this is off trail, please plan accordingly.
  • There is plenty of water on this hike even in dry years.
  • Use the photos on the right to help you navigate the first half of the hike.
  • Use this link to view the chute from above Island Lake to Thomas Canyon. The orange line is a route you can take.
  • Take binoculars as I have seen all kinds of wildlife in the areas this hike takes you through, including fresh mountain lion tracks between Box Canyon and Kleckner Creek.

  • Trip Report:

    Jimmy Knowles and Maria Juan's hiked the Lakes Loop hike 6-9 August 2014. Jimmy has a great trip report and photos located at the links below. If you are interested in this hike you shoudl check out this weath information.
    Jimmy's trip report: - Jimmy's photos:
    .kml File
    Here is the .kml that can be opened with Google Earth.
    If the track does not show check the box labeled "Track" in the left pane of Google Earth.
    The orange track is our first day and the red track is the second day.

    Lakes Loop.kml

    To download this file in Google crome just click on it. If you are using IE 9 right click the file and choose "Save target as". Make sure you save the file as a .kml and not a .xml.

    Head to the red dot.

    Photo taken from Island Lake.
    Head to the pass above Island Lake to drop into Thomas Canyon.

    Photo taken from pass above Island Lake.
    Hike to the saddle below Mount Fitzgerald to drop into Right Fork Canyon.

    Photo taken from pass below Mount Fitzgerald.
    Head to the saddle in the back of Right Form Canyon to head into Box Canyon.
    Photo taken looking toward Echo Lake.
    Head to the saddle marked in red and you are above Echo Lake.
    Photo taken looking at pass into Kleckner Creek.
    Hike straight down into the bottom of Box Canyon and then up Box to this pass.