Located just a short distance from I-90 in north Idaho, the Stevens Lakes Trail leads to two alpine lakes nestled beneath Stevens Peak in the Bitterroot Mountains.
The trail is short yet steep, and includes several challenging aspects, making it an ideal year-round training ground. The area is popular as a winter backcountry skiing destination (gear and expertise required, as there is avalanche terrain), and snowshoe hikers occasionally venture up to Lower Stevens Lake.
The area has long been the traditional training location for the annual Spokane Mountaineers' spring Mountain School, where aspiring Mountaineers go to practice crampon usage, self-arrest with ice axe, and safe rope travel while ascending to Stevens Peak in spring snow conditions. Once the trail melts out in late spring, Lower Stevens is a popular introductory backpack trip destination. There are several small campsites near the outlet stream. Since the trail is fairly short, it is also an excellent dayhike location.
The main trail from the trailhead to Lower Stevens Lakes includes both short steep sections and moderate terrain through forested areas. A few relics from the area's mining history can be seen along the trail. The crossing of East Fork Willow Creek (lower Stevens Lake's outlet stream) can be challenging during spring run-off conditions. Just above the stream crossing is a waterfall which can be viewed from the trail. Following the stream crossing, the trail grade climbs more steeply. The trail crosses a talus slope, then switchbacks up to Lower Stevens Lake.
A small, narrow trail leads along the west side of Lower Stevens and connects to Upper Stevens Lake for further exploration (hiking distance and elevation gain for this hike includes extending the trip to Upper Stevens Lake). By late summer, the huckleberry bushes surrounding both lakes are covered in plump ripe berries. After the first touch of frost the fall colors are fantastic here.