Explore the most popular forest trails near Irwin with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
16 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.

backpacking
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!

backpacking
2 months ago

Great weekend backpacking destination.

Absolutely Beautiful!!!

hiking
8 months ago

Narrow trail, rocky and steep. No water in creek. Definitely a challenging hike. Today smoke from the Montana wildfires made breathing very difficult. I felt like we were at 10,000 feet. Still some wildflowers to enjoy.

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
8 months ago

Nice trail up a neat little canyon. In the second half, watch for mountain goats on the West side of the canyon. At the top of the canyon, you can bushwhack your way up to the top of Mount Baird (ascend and follow the obvious ridge that will be on your right side). You can also crest over the ridge at the top of the trail and head down into Waterfall Canyon or Austin Canyon.

backpacking
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).

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

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!

Went the first week of August. It was a gorgeous hike. I agree with one of the previous reviews that it is on the upper edge of moderate. Don't get into this one expecting a nice leisurely stroll. Near the top it turned into a battle of wills and personal fortitude to make it all the way up. We somehow took a wrong turn and ended up overlooking a beautiful valley for lunch before our trek back down. My wife, our 9yr old son, and I were on the trail for about 8.5 miles and it took around 6 hours. All in all a worthwhile trip. They weren't lying about the wildflowers either. Between the flowers and the hundreds of hummingbirds it was something to remember.

backpacking
9 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 ;)

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.

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.

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

hiking
9 months ago

Love this hike!

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

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.

Makes for a long day hike but so worth it.

hiking
10 months ago

This trail is a sweetheart. Really nice up at the top! This is perhaps a bit more difficult than the moderate rating. Steep trail in spots and loose rocks make it hazardous in spots. The view is awesome!. About 9 miles in and out.

hiking
10 months ago

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.

Busy trail but fun and scenic

This was such a beautiful trail! Lots of beautiful scenery. There are signs for bears, so bring your bear spray. It is a wonderful time of year to go!

it was a great hike

fishing
11 months ago

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

Beautiful area to hike by creek. Everything was really green.

hiking
Sunday, May 07, 2017

A beautifully scenic hike, enjoy!

backpacking
Monday, March 27, 2017

Great little hike, Took an overnighter to the upper lake, about a half mile form the lake the snow starts to get knee level, so either wear gaiters or try to beat the heat so it doesn't melt and you fall through. But a beautiful, easy hike for everyone.

hiking
Monday, February 20, 2017

Beautiful area!! Summer & Fall are the best times to take this hike. Start earlier in the morning if you are making the full hike. Advice from many hikers- Don't get caught in the canyon at dark!(Very dangerous due to mountain lions)

backpacking
Monday, February 13, 2017

I have done this in the summer and it was great, (hence the five stars) but this time was the hardest hike I have ever attempted. I just went up with a friend last night. We started late at about 4 in the afternoon. That was a bad decision. the snow there now is about 3 1/2 to 4 feet. We were prepared for snow but not this much. It was going good for about two miles but our feet constantly fell through the half packed snow after the second mile. Darkness fell quickly and we hiked for about another hour through the snow but made little progress. We encountered a bear just as we were about to cross the last bridge before the lower lake and decided to turn back about a half mile to a grove of trees. in and out we saw 6 moose, 7 deer, and a bear. although we didn't make it to the first lake, we had fun and saw some great winter sights. Be aware that there are multiple (5 or so) avalanches blocking the trail. bring snowshoes and climbing gear.

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