Jaw-Dropping Hikes Within Idaho
Picking an appropriate hiking trail in Idaho is quite the challenge, as the majority of the land here is federally owned and has plenty of accessible exploration available to those searching for such. The state is flourishing with some of the loveliest footpaths in the country; Idaho is every nature lover's dream. With clear blue skies reflected in the pristine alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, sky-kissing trees, and beautiful vistas, there is hardly a better place for an outdoor summer destination.
Throughout Idaho, you will come across relatively diverse landscapes on the different paths, as some include immense mountain backdrops, whereas others boast sauntering rivers that’ll surely leave you awe-inspired by their splendor. There are plenty of hiking trails in Idaho to appease any level of hiker; however, our top eight recommendations are the ones that follow.
A common hike to embark on by most of the town's visitors, Alice Lake is located within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The recreation area is among the top echelon of national parks in Idaho and spans 756,000 acres and has over 40 peaks that breach 10,000 feet. With the trailhead situated in the mountain town of Stanley, the hike begins at the Tin Cup near Pettit Lake and has one of the highest degrees of hiking difficulty in all of Idaho. The 7-mile hike to Alice Lake is pretty rigorous for hikers with little or no experience, given the elevation gain of 1,800 feet. However, for the persistent trekkers, there is the ultimate reward of jaw-dropping scenic views of the alpine lake once you make it to the end.
You might not be able to differentiate this location from the famed Alps that are found in Europe from solely looking at the scenery. This moderately strenuous footpath spans 7 miles roundtrip, but it can also be looped for an 8-mile circuit contingent on how much time you have. The trailhead is 4 miles down a dirt road with elaborate signs pointing you to Pioneer Cabin, just be sure to make a left when you reach the trail junction approximately 30 minutes from the summit. The footpath has a significant undulating landscape with steep switchbacks along the route, but the glacial mountain's picturesque view is absolutely worth the hike.
This 12-mile-long footpath starts from Shoshone Falls and winds its way to Canyon Rim. This route is suitable for those with little or no experience with hiking, albeit it is quite lengthy. The option to only take on a portion of the hike is always there if you don’t necessarily feel like completing the whole thing. Hiking along this path is certainly a worthwhile experience, with striking views of the Snake River Canyon visible the majority of the way. However, when visitors park their car at the visitors center, they have to decide on which direction to take for the hike. Some start from Shoshone Falls hiking towards the town, opting for the flat and steep section, whereas others prefer the more accessible area along the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls. Either way, you will be met with unreal sights and breathtaking environments.
This hike is referred to as "Craters of the Moon" due to the lunar-like surface that is present here. It was only nominated as a national monument and preserve in 1924 even though it already existed for thousands of years. Crossing the dormant lava field in South Idaho is one of the few places where one can walk on such a lunar-like surface. The pathway intersects with different trails; its trailhead is one of several stops on the 7-mile Loop Road. The North Crater Trail is 3 miles one-way with a couple of steep sections, but you should be able to enjoy some extremely scenic views of lava fields on the way.
Located in the northern region of Idaho, this path leads to one of the highest peaks in the state. With an elevation gain of 3700 feet, the route is no easy feat but it truly does have some of the best panoramic views in all of Idaho from Lake Pend Orielle, the expansive mountains, and even the majestic mountain goats that call this region home. Despite some of the difficult portions that exist on this route, it has become a go-to spot for many that visit, making it a tad too crowded at times. However, you can make an early trip to avoid the crowds if you prefer more seclusion.
Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail
Mineral Ridge, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is located 10 miles east of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The trail is BLM's first recreational site in the state, following its debut in 1982. Mineral Ridge is pretty manageable no matter your skill level and has an elevation gain of 600 feet. This paved 3.3-mile loop has a rewarding view of the splendid Lake Coeur d'Alene for those who make it to the apex. If you are fortunate enough to traverse this path between November and February, you should be able to see the fascinating spectacle of bald eagles feast on the salmon in the lake.
Central Ridge Trail
Ridge to Rivers, a non-profit responsible for over 190 miles of trails, manages easily accessible Boise foothills. The most picturesque out of all of them is arguably the Central Ridge Trail, which traverses through the spine of the foothills. You can find the Central Ridge Trail trailhead behind the Boise VA Medical Center. This hike makes for a great addition to any itinerary, especially if you’re exploring with the whole family. With an elevation gain of 500 feet over 2 miles, this moderate footpath is one of the best opportunities to savor the panoramic views of the surrounding hills and landscapes.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
The largest dune in North America is situated in the southwestern part of Idaho at Bruneau Dunes State Park. The utterly picturesque landmarks are delightfully alluring to anyone that makes their way here, and there are different paths up the dunes and declines that are incredibly fun to take on a sled. There is a 6-mile track that crosses the highest ridge. Hiking the Bruneau is perfect for those searching for something unique in Idaho; however, the sand can be unbearably hot in the summer months.
This concludes our guide of the best hiking destinations to discover within Idaho. The Gem State has no shortage of mesmerizing landscapes to explore and appreciate, and if you do not already consider yourself a huge enthusiast of the outdoors, taking the opportunity to hike around Idaho will surely change that in a heartbeat.