Upper Palisades Lake Trail

MODERATE 160 reviews
#2 of 37 trails in

Upper Palisades Lake Trail is a 13.3 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.

13.3 miles
1,679 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly





horseback riding

mountain biking

trail running





wild flowers



13 days ago

I'm not really sure how the original Trail got recorded on to All Trails but I logged 15.25 miles on that same route to go up to the upper Palisades lake so I think the trail details need to be updated. Aside from that it was a great Trail beautiful views little bit longer than I had hoped but I would do it again.

17 days ago

This was a beautiful hike. We came from 8000 feet in CO, so the lower altitude made it even easier. We hiked to the lake where my husband caught (and released) 30+ fish in an hour, then we hiked back. It started to rain and lightening mid afternoon, so keep an eye on the weather as there are some very exposed sections of the trail. This would also be a great trail running trail.

19 days ago

This hiking trail was a really fun one. It does provide a bit of a challenge, but it makes up for it. I only have four stars because there were so many people. It really slowed down our hike because we had to keep stepping off trail for others to get through. There also seems to be an issue with the fellow hikers not following rules by not keeping their dogs leashed (as it says right at the beginning to keep them leashed). This caused a lot of issues with the dogs running past us and almost knocking us over.

22 days ago

Beautiful views. Lots of different scenery. Accessible.
Make sure you're in good shape - can be a challenge.

1 month ago

Trail to Lower lake is pretty easy. Lower lake to upper lake more difficult but worth the climb. I’m 58 and first time hike. My sons and I did it and I was exhausted at the end but the hike is so worth it!!! Beautiful mountain scenery and even saw 2 moose.

1 month ago

Great day hike. Not too hard. Recommend starting the hike early in the day.

2 months ago

Ran this trail a few days ago. Beautiful. 5a on a Tuesday meant not a soul around. Weather was awesome in early June. Took about 2 hr 25 min to run to upper Palisades and back with no traffic. From the campground it was 14.3 miles and about 1700 ft of elevation. I’ve run this trail on a Friday morning and it was starting to get busy. Saturday’s are really busy. Good luck getting around all the horse and foot traffic on the weekend if you are a runner.

2 months ago

Great hike. Follows a river the entire time that is beautiful. At the time we hiked the creek was pretty full leading to some muddy parts of the trail but it was still very doable. There is not a lot of steep incline on this hike so it's good for a lot of ages. very popular

2 months ago

2 months ago


3 months 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.

5 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!

5 months ago

Great weekend backpacking destination.

11 months ago

Absolutely Beautiful!!!

11 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.

11 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).

11 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

11 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!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

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 ;)

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Love this hike!

Monday, July 17, 2017

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

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.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Makes for a long day hike but so worth it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

This was probably the most beautiful hike i've been on so far The lakes were pretty full The creek was moving pretty fast . It was an awesome hike.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Busy trail but fun and scenic

Monday, June 12, 2017

it was a great hike

Saturday, June 03, 2017

great hike. pretty long but well worth the work once you get to the lake. great fishing as well!!

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