Upper Palisades Lake Trail

MODERATE 129 reviews
#2 of 36 trails in

Upper Palisades Lake Trail is a 13.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Irwin, Idaho that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
13.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2099 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

fly fishing

hiking

mountain biking

trail running

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

hiking
6 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely Beautiful!!!

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

backpacking
2 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).

2 months ago

Liked this hike. It follows the stream the whole way and is very scenic. Elevation gain is gradual. You can fish the stream if you want

hiking
2 months ago

beautiful hike, the upper lake is totally worth it and the water is great to swim in during the warm season! took us about 5.5-6 hours to complete with lunch included! bring sunscreen and a camera, you won't regret either!

hiking
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

Awesome trail up through a canyon following the creek to 2 lakes. Great fishing and camping, some prime Idaho backcountry. It is a popular trail but there is a reason for that ;)

3 months ago

2 miles with fat tire bike, sat on gravel slope at rivers edge then turned back. I had to walk with the bike so much a couple hiking for an overnight camp passed me. Coming back was fun had to dismount more for hikers with children nonetheless it's a beautiful creek.

I wonder if anyone white water paddles the creek. I didn't see any blockages or situations that may trap a paddler, but could not view the entire creek.

At my start and 1st hour I talked with 4 bikers (together but separated) coming down, made it to the fall but started at 7am and described it as very difficult with rock slides and trees over the path. These were young fit bikers and they were exhausted. I'm 68, not even intermediate in terms of this style of mountain biking and I found it too difficult with many-many rocks, huge roots, blind corners, and a rock slide across the path. All manageable coming down but slower than fast pased hiking with gear going up. A young couple showed me how slow I was as they kept catching up to me and then left me in their dust.

Lots of families, incapable little children, babes in arms and elementary school age kids beaten feet with their folks. Bikers cannot ride through groups of 4 to 10 (tiny children) and a good number of dogs all on leashes. Horse dropping but didn't see any horseback riders

If I go back it will be hiking with plans for overnight or two. Bike it early if you are strong of legs, shoulders/arms and aerobics. Wear a helmet of course.

Bear area so bring your spray.

3 months ago

3 months ago

The trail is taken good care of and over 50% of the trail is in the shade. The hike runs along the creek the whole time. Beautiful and scenic. Some rocky spots, but manageable. Nice hike.

3 months ago

great trail. make sure to use the rope swing at the upper lake.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Love this hike!

4 months ago

The trail is very narrow not much of an incline until you get half way up to the upper Lake long beautiful scenery saw a moose and the baby moose one snake the water is gorgeous

4 months ago

Fun trail. We took our kids and our dog, camped at the lower lake, and hiked to the upper lake and back down the next day. Bring your bug spray; the biting flies and mosquitoes are out of control.

4 months ago

Makes for a long day hike but so worth it.

hiking
4 months ago