ApproachFrom the main dirt road used to get to the 'Ampitheater' (see 'Ampitheater' route), continue driving north. There should actually be a sign for Painter Spring a few more miles north of the turnoff to the 'Ampitheater', with a well-maintained dirt road leading east towards the northern end of Sawtooth Mountain. Painter Spring is marked by the mouths three canyons, lined with huge rock cliffs. The road forks near two of the mouths, so it is up to you as to which one to take. Since I was doing an exploratory loop, I just parked at the fork in the road and walke to the mouth of the more northern canyon.
Route DescriptionIn either main canyon, there is a moderately travelled trail that wanders along the wash bottoms going up the canyons. Follow the trail until it disappears. From there it is up to you where to go. The canyons are great for exploring. You can trace my route just by looking at the topo map. There are some springs in both canyons, so you can refill on water when hiking in this area.
A couple of things to consider: The rock is EXTREMELY sharp (so much so that it is hard to press you hand on it even for balance). This makes scrambling on it tricky, and it is proabably best to be avoided. The rock is also very loose. The steepness of the terrain and the difficulty of the rock makes for very rugged exploration. The short loop I have marked took me about 4-5 hours to do, and it was very wearing.