If you're looking for some of the best places to hike in the western United States, Idaho is a great place to start. With its stunning landscapes, rugged terrain, and varied ecosystems, Idaho offers a wealth of opportunities for hikers of all levels.
In this article, we'll take a look at the top 10 places to hike in Idaho, from the challenging climb up Borah Peak to the easy stroll along the shoreline of Priest Lake.
Whether you're an experienced backpacker or just looking for a leisurely day hike, these trails are sure to provide plenty of adventure and stunning views of the Gem State.
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10. Priest Lake:
Priest Lake is a popular recreation area located in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho. The hike takes visitors along the shoreline of Priest Lake, with views of the surrounding mountains and plenty of opportunities for swimming and fishing. The trail is easy and well-maintained, making it a great option for families with young children. Along the way, hikers will see stunning views of the lake and the surrounding landscape. There are also several campsites and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy.
9. Alpine Lake Loop:
The Alpine Lake Loop is a scenic hike located in the Trinity Mountains of central Idaho. The hike is approximately 8 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of approximately 1,800 feet. The trail winds its way through alpine forests and past several scenic lakes, including the stunning Alpine Lake. The lake is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and camping, and provides stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
8. Shoshone Falls:
Shoshone Falls is a stunning 212-foot waterfall located on the Snake River in southern Idaho. The waterfall is often called the "Niagara of the West" due to its size and beauty. The hike to the falls is short and easy, with a well-maintained trail that provides views of the falls from several vantage points. There are also picnic areas and viewing platforms for visitors to enjoy the falls and the surrounding landscape.
7. Craters of the Moon National Monument:
The Craters of the Moon National Monument is a surreal landscape of volcanic craters and lava fields located in central Idaho. The park offers several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, with the longest trail being approximately 7 miles round-trip. The trails wind their way through the unique geological features of the park, including lava tubes, cinder cones, and spatter cones. Along the way, hikers will see stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
6. City of Rocks National Reserve:
The City of Rocks National Reserve is a unique landscape of granite spires and rock formations located in southern Idaho. The reserve offers several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, with the longest trail being approximately 8 miles round-trip. The trails wind their way through the rock formations, offering plenty of opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering. Along the way, hikers will see stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
5. Bruneau Dunes State Park:
Bruneau Dunes State Park is located in southern Idaho, and features a unique landscape of rolling sand dunes. The park offers several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, with the longest trail being approximately 8 miles round-trip. The hike takes hikers through the sand dunes, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the night sky. The park is also home to an observatory, where visitors can stargaze and learn about astronomy.
4. Hell's Canyon:
Hell's Canyon is a rugged and remote canyon located in western Idaho. The hike is a challenging 27-mile round-trip that takes hikers through the canyon and along the Snake River. The trail is steep and rocky, with several sections requiring scrambling and boulder hopping. However, the stunning views of the canyon and the river make the effort worthwhile. Along the way, hikers will pass by several campsites and water sources, making this hike a great option for backpackers.
3. Table Rock:
Table Rock is a popular hike located just outside of Boise, Idaho. The trailhead is located in the Old Idaho Penitentiary parking lot, and the hike is a moderate 4-mile round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 1,100 feet. The trail winds its way up to the top of Table Rock, which provides panoramic views of the city of Boise and the surrounding landscape. At the top, there are several benches and picnic tables for hikers to rest and take in the views.
2. Borah Peak:
Borah Peak is the tallest mountain in Idaho, and is located in the Lost River Range of central Idaho. The hike is a challenging 8-mile round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 5,260 feet. The trail is steep and rocky, with several sections of scrambling required to reach the summit. However, the stunning views from the top make the effort worthwhile. From the summit, hikers can see the surrounding mountains and valleys for miles around.
1. Sawtooth Lake:
Sawtooth Lake is a popular hike in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. The trailhead is located at the Iron Creek Campground, and the hike is about 10 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of approximately 2,300 feet. Along the way, hikers will pass by scenic alpine meadows, streams, and forests before arriving at Sawtooth Lake, a crystal-clear alpine lake surrounded by towering mountains. The lake is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and camping, and provides stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
With its vast wilderness areas, towering mountains, and sparkling lakes, Idaho is truly a hiker's paradise.
Whether you're looking to challenge yourself with a strenuous climb up a peak or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through the woods, there is a trail in Idaho that will suit your needs. From the stunning vistas of Sawtooth National Forest to the rushing waters of Shoshone Falls, Idaho's natural beauty is truly unmatched.
So if you're ready for an outdoor adventure like no other, pack your hiking boots, headlamp and trekking poles and head to the Gem State for an unforgettable experience.