Idaho hiking is filled with seemingly endless possibilities. Pick from any of the more than 1200 trails, and you’re sure to find your way to various forms of natural majesty — be they alpine lakes, meandering creeks, mountain forests, rock features, or canyons. For decades, the vast scenery of Idaho has captivated outdoor enthusiasts and continues to be a favored destination for those seeking adventure.
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How Much Hiking Did You Say?
Covered with more than 21 million acres of forest, Idaho has tens of thousands of miles of hiking trails. From north to south and east to west, it’s hard to find an Idaho town that doesn’t have a multitude of hikes within an hour’s drive.
Whether you’re looking for day hikes or multi-day backpacking trips, hiking Idaho is sure to keep your body busy and your mind enthralled as you take in the wonder of this hidden gem of a state.
Something For Every Skill Level
Not only does Idaho have a wide variety of terrain to choose from, but the state also possesses trails for every skill level. Whether you’re a first-time hiker, experienced mountain explorer, or somewhere in between, there are trails suited for everyone. From beginner to advanced skill level, you could spend a lifetime exploring all Idaho has to offer.
Understanding Trail Ratings
When selecting a trail to hike, it is essential to pay attention to a few things. Many people focus on the sights, and while you’ll want to seek out beauty, it’s important to do so safely. To avoid getting in over your head, pay attention to trail ratings.
Here’s a snapshot of what trail ratings mean:
- Easy: trail with no significant obstacles and minimal grades
- Intermediate/Moderate: up to 10% grades in sections, routes may have obstacles like small rocks and roots, easy scrambling
- Difficult: up to 15% grades in sections, more significant obstacles, scrambling, and/or brief climbing
- Extremely Difficult: up to 20% grades, 15 or more obstacles, many more challenging areas, scrambling, and climbing
Things To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Trail
Any outdoor adventure requires a certain amount of planning and preparation. Regardless of your skill level and the type of trail you choose to tackle, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Trail difficulty
- Time of day
- Proper attire/footwear
Once you have decided on a trail that is right for you, make sure you’re clear on the distance you will be hiking and that you have enough water to stay hydrated. A water bottle may be fine for shorter hikes, but if you plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains, it’s best to have a hydration pack.
Time of day is another thing to pay attention to; in summer months, you may want to start earlier in the morning to avoid hiking during the heat of the day. And always make sure you’re wearing good hiking shoes or trail runners, and good socks make a big difference.
Hiking At Tamarack Resort
While day hikes abound in the Idaho wilderness, some people are looking for weekend or weeklong experiences. Backpacking destinations are one way to get into the great outdoors for an extended period of time. However, Tamarack Resort offers incredible access to on and off resort hiking — and to sweeten the deal, at the end of the day, you can enjoy fantastic lodging options and top-notch dining as a reward for your hard work.
Tamarack Resort is Idaho’s newest all-season destination. Located near Donnelly, Idaho, in the West Mountains, Tamarack offers a wealth of outdoor adventure, including 20 miles of hiking trails on the property. Enjoy the pristine landscape of Tamarack — trickling streams, mountain meadows, groves of trees, and expansive blue sky beyond a mountainous skyline.
Access to the 20 miles of onsite trails is close to the many resort lodging and dining options. Just head to the end of Discovery Road to experience views of Lake Cascade or ride the lift and hike the mountain’s summit.
The Tamarack Express lift is open from Friday, June 11th through Sunday, September 12th, except for special events. Lift access is available seven days a week from 10 am to 4 pm.
Guided Hiking — Perfect For Beginners
Have you ever been on a hike and wondered what a particular flower was, daydreamed about the history, or seen a bird and had no idea what kind it was? Guided hikes are a great way to escape into nature and learn along the way. On a guided hike at Tamarack, you will learn about the culture, history, and wildlife of Idaho’s Payette River Mountain Region.
Tamarack has two guided hikes to choose from — these opportunities are available on Saturdays and Sundays, from May 29th thru September 5th:
- Beginner/Intermediate Guided Hike Sat & Sun 10:00 am – noon — $15
- Intermediate+ Guided Hike Sat & Sun 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm — $15
The morning beginner/intermediate hikes are non-lift served, while intermediate+ hikes may require lift access.
Hikers should meet 15 minutes before your scheduled time at Guest Services, in the Monte Verde Building in the Village at Tamarack.
Come ready with your camera, sunscreen, water, good shoes, and hiking clothes.
Hiking Options Nearby
For those seeking longer hikes, a little more variety, or have a long week of exploration planned, there are some great trails within miles of Tamarack. Choose from several day hikes that take you along streams and to mountain lakes — you can be back at Tamarack by the afternoon to enjoy a nice cold one at one of the onsite bars or reward yourself with decadence with some fine dining. Lay your head down and rest in luxury at the lodge or one of the condos, cottages, townhomes, or chalets so you can hit another trail in the morning.
Here are a few suggestions for day hikes nearby:
- Louie Lake Trail – Located 24 miles northeast of Tamarack, Louie Lake is a 5.1-mile out-and-back trail. Moderate in difficulty, this trail takes hikers through pine forests to the pristine Louie Lake.
- Crown Point Trail – Travel 23 miles around the southside of Lake Cascade to the trailhead for Crown Point. This 5.9-mile out-and-back trail is an easy beginner trail that offers scenic views of the lake.
- Skein Lake Trail – 19 miles to the south of Tamarack, you’ll find the trailhead for Skein Lake. While only 3 miles out-and-back, this trail is rated moderate. Plan on spending time exploring the terrain around this quiet mountain lake.
- Blue Lake Trail – Located 31 miles to the south of Tamarack Resort, the trail to Blue Lake is a short, intermediate trail. At 1.6 miles out-and-back, this hike is great for those wanting to spend some extra time at their destination. Come ready for a cold dip in the mountain water.
- Boulder Lake Trail – This 6.9-mile loop starts 25 miles northeast of Tamarack. A popular trail, this intermediate hike will take you through forests, along streams, and traverses the shores of Boulder Lake.
- Bear Basin Trail – An easy 4.8-mile loop, Bear Basin is a great hike to get out into the Payette National Forest. Located near New Meadows, 24 miles north of Tamarack, this hike winds through pine trees and gives you plenty of opportunities to explore.
- Box Lake Trail – One of the more difficult hikes in the area, Box Lake is worth the sweat. Located 34 miles north of Tamarack Resort, this 7.1-mile out-and-back trail takes you to the stunning Box Lake and is worth every step, not to mention the great view of Beaverdam Peak.
These incredible hikes are just a handful of the many trails in the area that take you through pine forests, along trickling streams, and to many of the mountain lakes near Tamarack. Discover all the trail options that await you by visiting alltrails.com — here, you will find distances, ratings, directions, and trail details for all the hiking you could ever want near Tamarack.
Adventure Is Calling You
Summer is upon us, and with it comes warm, clear days. If you haven’t experienced it yet, there is nothing quite like exploring the mountains of Idaho backdropped by a brilliant blue sky or escaping the sun in the shade of evergreens as you follow a river to a lakeside alpine oasis. If you have spent time on the trails around Tamarack, we know we will see you soon.
So, get a room booked and make a plan to explore your next favorite trail or trails. All you need to do is get out here and explore — leave the food, drink, and lodging to us.