The Gem State is full of amazing trails and fabulous views. Anyone who’s trekked to the towering Sawtooths or explored the maze of boulders at the City of Rocks knows that Idaho offers explorers eye-popping scenic views around every turn. Here are seven must-do Idaho trails for every level of adventurer.
1. Priest Lake State Park
With 13 major hiking trails surrounding Priest Lake, your day trip is bound to be full of wildlife sightings and crystal clear water.
The Upper Priest Lake Trail is an easy day hike that showcases North Idaho’s wilderness, as well as the shoreline of Priest Lake. Your kids will be thrilled to pass an old mine shaft along the trail, with the potential to see caribou in the wild.
2. Military Reserve
The Military Reserve trail system, just 15 minutes from downtown Boise, is land that was originally used for military maneuvers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since it’s now managed as a wildlife reserve, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Boise’s cityscape, native plants, and catch glimpses of the local wildlife.
This trail system originates from the Central Ridge Trail, allowing runners, hikers and mountain bikers to create their own loop from a cardinal path. Take Central Ridge to Cottonwood Creek to wind through the sagebrush and cottonwood trees, or cross over to Ridge Crest Trail to explore the lower half of the trail system with your running buddies.
3. Elephant’s Perch – Saddleback Lakes
If you’re looking for an adventurous day hike, the Saddleback Lake Trails are your answer. The trailhead can be accessed from the Redfish Lake Creek Trail, which is just a short boat ride from the north shore of Redfish Lake.
Although it’s not an official U.S Forest Service trail, the Saddleback Lake Trails are infamous for their moderately challenging routes that outline the pristine Saddleback Lakes and give direct access to Elephant’s Perch, one of Idaho’s rock climbing gems. While Elephant’s Perch caters to the more experienced climber, the views from the bottom are just as breathtaking.
4. Fishhook Creek Trail
This family-friendly hike follows peaceful ponds and includes multiple points to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the Stanley area. The 5-mile roundtrip hike is enjoyable for all activity levels and ages, making it an easy combination of recreation and relaxation during your family trip to Redfish Lake.
After a short walk through a sagebrush-lined path, the trail leads you through forests and meadows where you’re surrounded by a variety of gorgeous greenery and bright wildflowers. Now, just 30 to 45 minutes later (depending on how many scenic stops you take along the way) you and your trail buddies will come to beaver ponds. With Fishhook Creek Meadow in the forefront and Mount Heyburn in the background, the perfect family photo is just waiting to be taken.
5. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Craters of the Moon’s active lava flow over 2,000 years ago resulted in a unique basalt terrain, making it a national monument unlike any other on the continent. Here, you can play the “floor is lava” game, and this time, you won’t be kidding!
The Caves Trail leads you and your kids on a 1.6-mile hike through four lava tubes and along fissures. The half mile, Inferno Cone Trail circles the summit of a cinder cone in the center of Craters of the Moon National Monument.
6. City of Rocks National Reserve
Located in Almo, Idaho, the City of Rocks National Reserve was a stopping point for thousands of emigrants on the California Trail in the 1800s. Today, it beckons explorers of all ages to delve into in its rich history and unique views.
Whether you are looking for a short walk to a scenic point, or a more adventurous day hike, The City of Rocks has a trail for the explorer in all of us. If you’re up for a longer hike and unbeatable scenery hit theNorth Fork Circle Creek which totals 6.3 miles between trailheads or take a shorter adventure on the 1.2 mile Geological Interpretive Trail loop.
7. Redfish Lake Trail
A nearly 15-mile loop, the Redfish Lake Trail is an awe-inspiring hike to do with your most adventurous family and friends. Leave any tuckered out tykes at home for this one, and venture into the Sawtooths for an up close and personal encounter with all the natural beauty this trail has to offer. Be sure to stop and smell the wildflowers as you enjoy views of Redfish Lake from the many scenic overlooks that line the trail.
There you have it, seven trails you’ll want to put on the family calendar before the end of the summer. If you loved this list, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for daily travel ideas and things to do throughout the state.