Upper Palisades Lake Trail

MODERATE 228 reviews

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.

Distance: 13.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,679 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

running
muddy
snow
6 days ago

Beautiful fall day! Not much wildlife but the scenery was magnificent! A little snow and some mud on the trail but we couldn't have asked for a nicer day in the middle of October.

hiking
muddy
snow
8 days ago

hiking
muddy
19 days ago

A Little muddy in spots but really nice along the creek. Nice shade almost the whole trail.

hiking
25 days ago

Great trail along creek many places to stop and go down into mini waterfalls and swim spot for the dogs. I went with all three of mine went about 8 miles round trip lots of shade!

Upper lake is definitely a hike and camp, unless you're in really good shape. I thought I was and barely made it out, lol... cannot feel my legs or feet! Gorgeous hike and totally worth it.

hiking
29 days ago

Great trail. Lots of shade. Backpacked in and stayed the night and the weather was perfect! We tracked the hike to be 15 miles in and back. The only complaint is there is a lot of horse poo to avoid while hiking as it’s also a riding trail. But overall the scenery was incredible and the hike was just the right amount of challenging.

hiking
rocky
29 days ago

hiking
29 days ago

Amazing amazing!!! Idaho did not disappoint. Very well kept easy terrain. Directions lead straight to parking. Trail easy to follow. I would call it a solid 5/10 in difficulty. The upper lake is stunning! We make it to the top in about 2h45m moving time. No bugs, all bridge crossings were up and good. Hike along the the river was really beautiful. Highly recommend!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Really easy hike. Most of the trail is walking on flat ground. The views, however, are some of the most gorgeous I have seen. I definitely recommend it!

This hike felt like quintessential Idaho, featuring all the very best of nature this beautiful state has to offer. Although I followed the marked trail precisely, my roundtrip was over 15 miles, a good couple of miles longer that what is indicated on AllTrails, so something to keep in mind as you plan your day. If you're not certain whether hiking the few miles beyond the Lower Palisades Lake is worth it, be assured that it absolutely IS. Upper Palisades Lake is the clearest, bluest lake I've ever seen and it almost felt like a little hidden tropical oasis at the top of a mountain. I spent a good 90 minutes there resting, refueling and just soaking in the pure calming peace of the scenery and sounds. This is an all-day hike, so be sure to carry plenty of water and food. Although the majority of the trail is through shaded forest, there's enough exposed areas to the sun that require being well-hydrated. And the climb to the Upper Lake is strenuous enough that you'll want to have some good protein and carbs to power up and then give you enough energy to make the trek back down. I can't say enough about this hike-- it will definitely be one I'll do again and again.

hiking
1 month ago

great hikeing trail with lots of places to camp

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike to a beautiful pair of lakes. Lots of traffic including horses.

hiking
2 months ago

We started on the trail about 5:30 PM with overnight backpacks. Arrived shortly after 9 pm Great trail. I loved the views. Upper lake was clean. Only reason I didn’t give it a five is I didn’t love dodging fresh horse manures all the way up the trail and at our campsite.

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

Nice and easy trail though long. It rained the other day so there were a few muddy patches, but nothing more than inch deep puddles. We started up about 7:50 and made it up by 11:15 just as it started to warm up. The scenery is pleasant and the lake is clear. All in all a wonderful day walk.

hiking
2 months ago

*PLEASE- LEAVE NO TRACE, PACK IT OUT!!* This is a HEAVILY trafficked trail with wildlife, do not put others in danger because you are careless or have not informed the party you are traveling with about the importance of LNT etiquette. The amount of food my dog found on trail and garbage I packed out this trip is a little scary and disheartening. I love this trail- this was my 3rd time in a year on it. Did it last fall in peak foliage and snow shoed in winter. Palisades creek is incredible any time of year- you hike along the banks of the creek and to the sounds of water rushing the whole way to the lower pond. Generally easy hike to this point- it’s about 5 miles- shade and lots of options to rest. After the lower pond, it’s just gets more. Haha. That was my term when bringing a first timer with me this trip. It’s about 5 more miles of the same steady climbing, by this time legs are starting to get tired, mid day heat is rising and it feels more intense. Keep a steady pace, drink water, eat an apple and keep moving up. The last mile is what feels the most intense- once you cross the last bridge, it’s all in your mind. About 3- 5 long switch backs with steady elevation gain. The last 2 are exposed to the sun, that’s how you know you are just about there!! From the lower pond to the upper lake- the wildflowers are abundant and breathtaking!! (Aug 1,2019) Lots of fishing and overnight camp spots. There is great water access to the right of the lake view point. Water is refreshing to wade in, and if you’re brave so fun to swim in!! My dog will take one paddle lap then stay on land because it is still that cold. Hiked this trip pretty quickly, stared at 10:20 am back to the car by 5:00 - had horses following the first 2.5 miles out so that pushed the pace. This is a FULL DAY hike if you do not want to camp. Give yourself plenty of time for soaking it all in, or be prepared ! Enjoy and leave it better than you found it!!

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

Busy trail, but beautiful.

hiking
2 months ago

4 adults. We started at 8 am and were back to the parking lot by 4:30. Not too intense as far as hills, but still a long hike. I’m glad I didn’t make my younger kids do this hike because of the distance. My older ones could totally handle it. Beauty surrounds every step!

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

We loved this trail! Started at 1:30pm and got to the top around 4:30ish. But we really hauled! We maybe took two 5-10 minute breaks on the way up. We had our two dogs and it’s definitely a dog-friendly trail, however by the end of it my dogs were clearly exhausted. Would’ve been a GREAT trail to camp on and then head back down in the morning. So gorgeous and scenic. Lots of rivers and streams! The last 2.4 miles are tough, basically all uphill & you gain a lot of elevation, but so worthwhile for that final view of the upper lake. I would recommend this trail to those who are down for a small challenge! We did the whole trail in about 7.5 hours, in and out. Wear good shoes with good grips. Coming back down is a little rocky and there’s lots of sand and gravel on certain parts of the hike. Very shaded, almost completely shaded by trees the whole way. a few garden snakes on the trails around 3-7pm, but they weren’t aggressive and ran away quickly, just watch your step once you get to the first lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Just returned from a one night backpacking trip. This trail is beautiful, shady at the beginning, but would recommend an early start as the sun was hot mid day. . The trail is relatively flat and runs along a river,. There is a nice picnic spot at the lower lake, the last mile and a half to the upper lake is a climb. Our Fitbit measured just under 9 miles one way.

hiking
3 months ago

We backpacked to the upper lake. Packing to the lower lake was really easy, but got pretty difficult the last 1.5 up to the upper lake. Beautiful scenery. Also, when you get to the upper lake there is a sign that may be misleading like it was for me. It says waterfall canyon 2.5 miles, but that is just to the trail head. The waterfall is about 4-5 miles passed the trailhead.

backpacking
3 months ago

I just finished this hike with my dad and brother. Beautiful scenery, great hike. Most of the hike is moderate with a pack, but the final climb to the upper lake gets steep. We camped on the far end of the lake (pleasantly surprised to have outhouses available to avoid digging holes). Fishing was also great, but note that most fish are cutthroat and must be released. Almost no mosquitoes in late June was a great surprise, and we saw lots of wildlife, including several moose and a huge buck deer that walked right through our camp at night.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike, although quite muddy right now. The river is running high and fast.

hiking
3 months ago

This is quite an easy hike, it’s mostly flat land all the way to the end where you have about a mile of uphill trail. The lake was still a bit frozen but I will return in a couple of weeks. We saw mountains goats and a couple of moose.

hiking
4 months ago

Great day hike. It took us a little over 5 hours and we had lunch at the lake. We saw mountain goats, bald eagles, and a snake. There is a lot of traffic but it didn't bother me. Everyone is friendly and courteous to let you pass. There was a big group camping at the upper lake so we went left and found our own little beach spot.

hiking
7 months ago

I completed this hike in July 2018. It definitely wasn’t the smartest idea, but I went alone. My biggest fear in doing this were bears! I had read this is a popular hike and that bear activity is minimal so I felt fairly safe. However, right away I realized that I wouldn’t know if something was coming for me until it was too late with how thick the trees and plants were in most areas. On top of the fact that I didn’t see many people on the trail whatsoever, so if anything did happen...I’m not sure anyone would know right away. Don’t get me wrong, this hike was amazing. The scenery was stunning...both lakes were more beautiful that I had could have anticipated. The upper lake definitely had a lot of bugs and a lot of loud people (which i wast expecting given I had only seen a couple people on the trail). I wish I had beaten the crowd there. What a spectacular view and especially after the hard work to get there, I wish I could have enjoyed it a little more. If I were to do again, I would definitely not go alone, begin a little sooner in the morning and had a better GPS device bc the trail def can lead you wrong in a couple places. Otherwise it was absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend!

10 months ago

Our yearly trek! Waterfall canyon is also definitely worth the extra push. If you're planning to make it an overnighter the far side of the upper lake is the prime territory. Been up here 4 years running and have always seen wildlife. Last time a moose stumbled upon us and gave us all a good jump. I don't know who was more surprised us or her.

10 months ago

this is definitely a hike that is accessible in the winter as long as it's not crazy snowy. The trail was easy to follow and trafficked.

Load More

Featured Trails