Explore the most popular horseback riding trails in Targhee National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

7 days ago

This is a fun trail to hike and camp at. There's a pretty river that runs through and great scenery. Watch out for stinging nettles but other than that it's a fantastic trail!

19 days ago

This is a beautiful trail with, diverse scenery along the way. Only reason for giving it 4 stars is that its pretty popular and can get congested at times. Also when backpacking, good camp spots and firewood are a little sparse.

DONT GO HIKING HERE YET. We made it most the way up the mountain but the whole way up, there’s was still TONS of snow even though it was 75 degrees outside!! It looks deceiving haha, it starts out pretty dry but then get snowy real quick. We didn’t make it down to the lake, but from the view we had of it, it looked frozen still. We also had to park quite far from the trailhead because there was a huge puddle covering the road and we couldn’t drive through it in our little Subaru crosstrek. I’m sure this would be a great hike in July when the snow has melted but for now I’d hold off unless hiking through 2 feet of snow is your kinda thing! There was a beautiful view at the top but I don’t think frozen and bleeding legs from repeatedly sinking in the deep icy snow is worth it.

1 month ago

We got 5.4 miles away from the trail head in our little Toyota Camry and there is a large hill that is basically a mud hill. I went half way up but started to slide. Maybe I’ll bring a 4x4 next time

2 months ago

It's a heavily traveled trail and a great one to start on. We usually hit this one in June each year for an overnight experience and the fishing in the upper lake is usually pretty good! Keep an eye out for moose and deer!

We figured (3 of is) that it is closer to a 7 me round trip, but absolutely beautiful and worth the hike!

2 months ago

Great weekend backpacking destination.

I did this hike in June of 2016 with my wife and son. Like that of previous reviews, this is a 10 mile out and back hike. This hike is also more on the difficult side as well. We ran into a number of people that were struggling on this trail that felt it was far harder than the moderate app rating. Personally, my family and I thought it was a beautiful hike with a lot of beautiful scenery. We will definitely hike this trail again if I’m ever in the neighborhood again.

I love this hike a lot.

One of our absolute favorites. We have gone in the summer, spring, and fall. It's gorgeous in the spring/summer with all the flowers

on Big Elk Creek Trail

trail running
6 months ago

Great trail. We made a late season run to the 6.5 mile mark in preparation for next year's Palisades Ultra Trail Series. Creeks were cold and snow was 1-4 inches with lots of animal signs, no actual sightings though. Can't wait until next year!

Very nice scenic hike. Easy. My 3 boys loved it.

Very nice hike for our family of 5. Easy trail along the creek and beautiful views.

beautiful hike little muddy and snowy but amazing

7 months ago

Great trail, super pretty, just very muddy.

The hike there is beautiful, it's a little difficult to get down to the lake but worth it. There was quite a bit of people there already when I went (during summer of 2016)

7 months ago

The hike up to Aldous Lake was easy and the lake was beautiful. The tall pines we're fantastic and well worth the trip by themselves. Hancock Lake, the upper lake, was much more difficult to get to, but was still a great hike. Well worth the extra effort.

I just wanted to clarify for people this is actually a 10 mile hike. The description is extremely misleading. The 5 miles are not a loop and you will be ascending a steep grade for most the hike. The cave lies near the top of mountain and you will climb another mountain and work your way around the canyon. In addition, the drive to the end of Darby Canyon road involves 4 miles of gravel road that will be slow going to reach the trailhead. Make sure you are prepared and take suitable precaution. I have hiked many areas in the west and i would rate this as a moderate to difficult hike. It it definitely worth doing.

We started the trail with no snow and by the time we made it to the cave there was about 4 inches. Such a beautiful hike and the cave is awesome! The last tenth of a mile is the toughest part but not bad; I would consider the rest of the trail to be easy.

I went on this hike twice in my life while in a church camp. Sadly I've never been to the caves, but the hike is still worth making, it has gorgeous scenery, including some breathtakingly bright, colorful wildflower patches (depending on when you go of course) and the waterfall at the end is nice as well.
Only complain I have is that I remember it being a lot less steep than it actually was

Really beautiful trail. The hike up wasn't too bad, but it was steeper than I was expecting. The climb into the windcave was really steep. Also, don't wear Chacos on this hike. There are a good amount of rocks on the trail, and I caught the front of my sandals caught multiple times

Absolutely Beautiful!!!

We just went to the lower lake. Really fun trail. Gradual incline to the lower lake. Plenty of places to rest. The trail is mostly in the shade and has beautiful views the entire way.

8 months ago

went labor day weekend. beautiful views, limited flowers left. would be an easy trail for kids and a nice bike trail. didn't see any animals but the path runs along the creek most of the way. no one mentions the road going into the trailhead. It was a little rough. we took the RV and cautiously made our way. there are a few boondocking sites along the way and there is a turn around at the trailhead. If you are staying at Henry's Lake it is a nice little hike not far from the campgeound.

Good trail for kids about five and older. A consistent but fairly light climb, terminating with a waterfall and access to the wind caves.

I've hiked this one with my kids twice, and neither time did we run into any other hikers or ATVs.

The trail is mostly shaded, and can at times be quite dusty. In the dusty sections, watch for animal tracks (deer, moose, coyote, and black bear).

The route shown on the description is different from the one that I take. Where the map shows the trail following the 226 road, you can actually continue on straight, and approach the summit from the West.

8 months ago

First of all, when the description says heavily used, it's not joking around. The first four miles of the trail (to the lower lake) will see a lot of traffic on the weekends in the summer, mostly due to the relative ease of the trail and the views along the way. Beyond the lower lake, the traffic drops off quite a bit.

The first four miles offer views of the creek. Mountain goats can often be seen on the canyon walls. The lower lake isn't anything too spectacular, though there is a nice resting area.

Between the lower and upper lakes, keep an eye out for moose in the marshy areas. At roughly six miles in, the trail splits. If you enjoy water crossings, you can continue on up Palisades creek. Otherwise, you'll cross the bridge and take a few switchbacks to the upper lake.

The trail along the upper lake will have you in the direct sunlight. However, once you reach the far end of the upper lake, there are several great camp sites. The forest service has even installed a vault toilet.

If you've come this far, the additional three miles up waterfall canyon is worth the effort, particularly in the late spring or early summer when the snow runoff produces a second cascading waterfall on the opposite side of the canyon. One can even take the waterfall canyon trail up to the top of the basin, where it connects with Austin canyon (which can take you over toward Big Elk Creek) and the Waterfall Crest trail, which at the crest connects to the Sheep Creek trail and the Lake Canyon trail, the latter taking you back down to the Lower Palisades lake (caution: this trail will likely be overgrown and GPS is strongly recommended).

8 months ago

A great trail for a hike with younger children. The trail is quite easy for the first four miles or so, with lots of nice views of the creek. There's plenty of shade along the way, and for those so inclined, several good options for campsites within the first three miles. Beyond the three mile mark, look for mountain goats on the steep canyon walls.

At about five miles in, the trial splits, giving the more adventurous hiker several options, including the South Fork and the Siddoway Fork. The latter connects with Austin Canyon and Neeley Cove.

great easy walk with good views. spend the time to see the creek up close. it is so clear and cold.

8 months ago

++Ice Cave to Wind Cave++
Been going to the Wind Cave since I was a kid. There's an ice entrance to the cave 1 mile east of the Wind Cave entrance. Multiple ice waterfalls, goes pretty deep, and you come out the Wind cave. You'll need ropes, harnesses, crampons (ice waterfalls get SLICK), ice picks, warm clothes, and someone who's been there (with a map). It can get labyrinthine right in the middle, getting stuck figuring out where to go is bad, especially with the ice. Cave warms up the closer you get to the wind entrance (or in this case, exit), but the wind picks up too. If you have a wetsuit or wetsuit bottoms, those are handy to cross the aptly named Crotch Lake. You don't want to try punching through the cave system all the way until the ice plug has melted (a small choke point at the base of the largest ice waterfall, only clear during the warmest months of the year).

++ Wind Cave, in and out ++
You'll need a helmet. Bike helmets are fine, duct tape a headlamp to the top. Always keep 3 working sources of light on you (even if you're not using them all). One time I was in this cave and I had 2 lights fail while we were a ways in and had to carry a flashlight in my mouth to see. Glad I had it.

The floor is made of sharper rocks. Other caves, I'd say knee pads are optional, but this cave you want at least one. Gloves, long sleeved shirt (whicking material is best), long pants are all the rest that you need to have a good safe time. If you're going in, I'd recommend groups no larger than 4. The entrance is windy because the cave gets quite small at the start, which channels all the air. Tight space means slower moving, wind means drop in body temperature.

There's a pit that you'll reach in the cave with anchors for ropes. Crossing the pit is fun. You can tie a rope spanning it to speed things up on the way out. Bring harnesses for safety, the pit can be wet. I've freehanded it, but looking back, that was rather stupid. After the pit, is a section I call the Labarynth. Have a system to mark the way out as you go in so you don't get turned around too bad. This area is fun, you'll find offshoots that have more delicate formations. If in doubt, listen for the river. Follow the river out.

++ General Notes ++
I find cave expeditions work out best here when you backpack in. There are a number of sites established at the base of the cave slope, all with reasonable access to water.

Bear country, of course. Bring a bear bag, be responsible. I've seen bears up here multiple times.

Don't piss/shit in the cave. There's very little to break that down. One time, in the wind cave, I thought i discovered some kind of miracle of life. A tiny delicate mushroom on a rock. Then i realized the rock was covered in a brown liquid. It was a shit mushroom. :( Take an empty gatorade bottle and pack your shit/piss out. I named mine Mr. Peabody. Worked like a charm.

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