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Finding a family hike suited for everyone can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you have young children. If this scenario sounds familiar consider exploring the Cress Creek Nature Trail in eastern Idaho to keep the whole family happy.

Snake river at sunset

This hike on a paved sidewalk is relatively short, about 1. 25 miles, and makes a loop. Keep your eyes peeled as you’ll likely see deer, rabbits, small lizards, or occasionally an eagle or a moose. Make sure to bring your binoculars to look for other birds and wildlife.

Once the paved trail ends, there’s a small area with water that little kids can play by. There’s also an overlook area with a picnic area. From here you can continue onto the dirt trail loop heading right or left. If you decide to take this trail, you’ll enjoy gorgeous vistas of the Snake River Plain, surrounding towns, buttes, and mountains. In the spring, the trail is surrounded by wildflowers and during fall the cottonwoods along the Snake River turn a beautiful yellow.

wildflowers along nature trail.

Back at the trailhead, you can spend some additional time along the Snake River. There’s a bridge that crosses the water directly opposite of where you park for the nature trail. I often spend time skipping rocks here with my children, and this is usually their favorite part of the trip. You can frequently see rabbits scurrying through the bushes here, as well.

small waterfall along nature trail.

Things to do nearby:

The Hillview Sinclair gas station off Hwy 26 has an Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt which is a fun family treat.

Check out Heise Hot Springs for year-round swimming. You can also enjoy Heise Zip, with zip lines up to 1,400 feet long.

Directions: The trailhead is about 20 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Head east on Highway 26 towards Ririe and Jackson.  About 3 miles past the Ririe turnoff, there will be a sign for Heise; turn left onto North 160 East. 160 East becomes North 4950 East; follow the road about two miles, then turn right at the end of the road onto East 100 North. At the end of the road (after about a mile), veer left onto North 5050 East. Cross the Snake River and turn left immediately at the “T” in the road onto the gravel road (E. Heise Rd.).  Go 1¼ miles and on the right side of the road is the trailhead parking area.

All photos, including feature image, are credited to Josh Packer.

Josh Packer is a full-time CPA  who is obsessed with landscape photography and  exploring Idaho. He lives in Ammon with his wife and three boys. Find more from Josh on Facebook, Instagram and on the web.

Published on September 15, 2016