Known for its mountainous landscapes, vast wilderness, stunning rivers, and overall breathtaking scenery, Idaho is undoubtedly a paradise destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. From a quick stroll through nature to a multi-day strenuous adventure, Idaho has everything you could ever hope for in a hiker’s wonderland.
Idaho is the perfect hiking destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Whether a novice or seasoned hiker, Idaho has more than enough hiking adventures on offer backed by some of the nation’s most exquisite scenery. Some popular hiking trails are found in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
What better way to enjoy some exercise and explore the beauties of Idaho than by embarking on an adventurous hike? Regardless of your fitness level, you will undoubtedly be in for a treat at one of Idaho’s many breathtaking hiking trails on offer, and we are here to show you why. Discover what makes Idaho the perfect place for your next hiking destination.
Hiking In Idaho
Hiking in Idaho has been referred to by many as one of America’s best-kept secrets. Indeed, unbeknownst to many people, Idaho is quite literally a haven for anyone with a passion for outdoor adventure. After all, there is undoubtedly no better way to explore any state than getting away from the busyness of life and enjoying nature’s scenery while on a hike.
Idaho has a beautiful abundance of hiking trails, enough to enjoy a unique path every weekend for years to follow. That is all thanks to Idaho’s diverse topography and seemingly endless miles of untouched land to explore. Idaho is undoubtedly a bucket list-worthy hiking destination, from mountain trails seasoned with snow to breathtaking, vibrant forest trails.
For the experienced hikers out there, a few of Idaho’s many hiking trails are also highly suited for multi-day adventures. In fact, if you have the time, camping out on one of Idaho’s trails – like Alice Lake in Sawtooth National Recreation Area, for example – will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. You might need to get permits to camp at some of the trails, so do keep that in mind.
And, for those who might not yet be ready to take on a strenuous multi-day hike, Idaho also has plenty of options for short-distance hikes over relatively easy terrain. The hiking trail to Upper Hazard Lake, for example, has a total distance of roughly 3,8 miles, which undoubtedly makes it perfect for novice hikers and families with younger children.
The Best Hiking Trails In Idaho
Alright, now that we have most of the preparation taken care of, it is time to dive into the exciting part and show you some of the best hiking trails that Idaho has to offer. Of course, there are far too many for us to mention all at once, but this list will serve to show you Idaho’s hiking trails that you under no circumstances want to pass by.
As previously mentioned, many of Idaho’s epic hiking trails can be found in Sawtooth National Recreation Area. One of the many great trails in this area is a roughly 10-mile hike to Sawtooth Lake. This is undoubtedly one of the most picture-perfect hikes in the area. You will be able to enjoy walking through forests and exciting climbs leading you to roaring waterfalls.
Another beautiful hiking trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is the trail to Goat Lake. Although its name in itself might not be the most appealing of them all, this roughly eight-mile hike will lead you to turquoise blue waters surrounded by breathtaking mountain views. Goat Lake is a great place to cool off and soak in the views after a few hours of hiking.
Palisades Creek Trail
Another popular hiking trail in Idaho, particularly in the southeastern parts of the state, is the Palisades Creek trail. This roughly seven-mile hike through Caribou-Targhee National Forest is undoubtedly one of Idaho’s most scenic hiking trails. You will be accompanied by mountain views throughout your hike here. However, be prepared for a substantial amount of elevation. The Palisades Creek Trail will get your heart pumping fast for sure.
Lady Face Falls – Stanley Lake
A reasonably easy yet equally beautiful hike in Idaho that you do not want to pass by is the trail to Lady Face Falls in the Stanley Lake area. The total hike is only roughly five miles long and is mostly flat, making it easy for those who do not have the highest fitness levels out there.
There is a climb to get to Lady Face Falls; however, it is by no means an advanced climb, and there is plenty of space to stop for a rest, so do not worry if you don’t have much experience in climbing while on a hike. Making it to the top will be highly rewarding. With a name like Lady face Falls, you can just imagine how beautiful your final view is going to be.
Preparing For A Hike In Idaho
If there is anything about hiking that you can’t afford not to prioritize, it would undoubtedly be preparation. Indeed, preparation is the best and arguably the only way to ensure that you get the best experience out of any hiking adventure that you choose to embark on. Before you go ahead and visit your nearest hiking trail, there are multiple factors that you should first consider.
Before embarking on any hike, the first thing to consider is your overall physical and fitness capabilities. Since hiking is one of the most cost-effective outdoor experiences – most trails are free to explore – many people make the mistake of choosing a path that they are nowhere near physically capable of handling.
Suppose you aren’t the kind of person who already gets in a lot of exercise, then choosing a strenuous hiking trail with steep elevation and perhaps even climbing is probably not the best idea. If you do not already have experience hiking, then instead start with a few easy trails – which thankfully Idaho has an abundance of – and gradually increase the difficulty of your hikes from there.
The next thing that you should think about is the time of year that you choose to go hiking. Summer is typically regarded as the best time to go hiking in Idaho when the snow is melting away from the mountains and overall visibility is at an all-time high. Winters in Idaho can be freezing, full of snow, and typically overcast, which are unquestionably not the greatest conditions for a hike – especially for those without much experience.
Let’s take the time to discover some of the other essential factors to consider when preparing for a hike in Idaho.
What To Wear For A Hike In Idaho
Of course, one of the essential aspects of preparing for a hike is ensuring that you wear the appropriate shoes and suitable clothing for the type of hike you are going on and the variety of conditions you will be hiking through, like the time of year, for example. Again, a vital key in preparing for a hike is preparation, and, in many cases, over-preparing is a good thing.
Shoes To Wear For Hiking In Idaho
Shoes are undoubtedly one of the most critical components of any hiking trip, and wearing an appropriate pair should be considered as a number one priority. After all, you will be spending all your time on your feet, so you will want to ensure that you wear something that gives you sufficient support and comfort.
For the average hiker – particularly those who are new to the world of hiking – a standard pair of trainers or walking shoes should more than suffice for easy to moderate hikes. As long as they remain comfortable over long distances and give your feet good support, you should be good to go and do not need to stress about spending extra money.
That being said, a good pair of hiking boots will make a great addition to the lives of novice and seasoned hikers. The strength that hiking boots offer, along with ankle support and overall comfort, is simply unmatched when compared to a standard pair of trainers. Hiking boots are also often waterproof, which is essential if you are going to be trekking through water or snow.
Clothes To Wear When Hiking In Idaho
The following vital aspect to consider is the clothing that you will be wearing on your hike. As previously mentioned, the best time to go hiking in Idaho is during the summer. So, if you are planning on visiting Idaho during that time, you will want to dress appropriately for the conditions you will be experiencing.
For hiking in Idaho during the summer, shorts and a t-shirt are great options. It is unquestionably an excellent idea to consider buying clothing for your hikes made using breathable material to keep you as cool and as dry as possible while hiking.
Again, make sure to over-prepare. Even during the summer, the temperatures while hiking up on the mountains in Idaho can still be on the colder side, so make sure to bring an extra layer for warmth. You might not need it, but rather have it and don’t need it than need it and don’t have it.
If you are hiking in colder conditions, long sleeve shirts made with breathable material and long pants are recommended. Again, bring some extra layers in case the temperatures drop. Fleece jackets are a great option as they provide a good amount of warmth while remaining breathable. Make sure to layer up and wear a ski jacket if you will be hiking in Idaho during the winter.
Also, before we dive into a few other hiking essentials, make sure to bring a hat with you for your hike.
What To Bring For A Hike In Idaho
Now that we have a lot of the preparation for your hike covered let’s unpack a few essentials that you will want to bring to your outdoor Idaho adventure. Firstly, bringing a backpack with you is a great way to store and transport everything we will mention going forward.
Each of these essentials is for both day hikers and multi-day hikers; however, multi-day hikers will need a few extra specialties.
Food And Water
This should undoubtedly go without saying but ensuring that you stay adequately hydrated is unquestionably an essential part of any hike. For a day hike, take at least one to two liters of water with you. You can also bring a water purification device if you need to top up your water from one of the rivers on your hike, but if you go with that option, make sure to invest in one of high quality.
Food and snacks are a great idea to bring along to maintain your energy levels. Hiking can be very tiring, especially on more strenuous trails. Keeping a few high-energy snacks like trail mix or energy bars is a great way to keep you going on your hike.
Make sure to bring a fair amount of sunscreen with you, and preferably apply some before and during your hike. Sunburn is not only bad for you but is also really unpleasant to have to deal with after a great day of hiking. Using a sunscreen that has a minimum of SPF 30 should more than suffice.
Trust us when we say that a hiking experience in Idaho is guaranteed to be a memorable one. Thanks to technology, we are able to go back and essentially relive some of our favorite memories. Bring along a camera – or even your phone – to take some pictures of Idaho’s exquisite scenery and views to capture your Idaho hiking adventure.
A few other miscellaneous items include a first aid kit, multi-tool, and navigation tools like a compass or a GPS device if you will be hiking over a far distance with limited or no cellphone connectivity.
There are, of course, far more of Idaho’s hiking trails that have not been mentioned. In fact, the list of available hiking trails in the Gem state – as it is aptly named – is seemingly endless. All in all, you unquestionably need to add a hiking experience in Idaho to your bucket list. You are sure to have a truly unforgettable time and will undoubtedly be back for more.