Idahoans may be known for their stamina, natural climbing and navigational abilities, and even an unrivaled passion for the great outdoors, but when it comes to immersing oneself in nature, the hike to get there doesn’t always have to be long and strenuous. There are literally thousands of trails across the state that are mere minutes from main cities, or require just a short trek through the wilderness to get somewhere absolutely incredible, scenic, remote, or photo-worthy. For a perfect adventure no matter the season, check out one of these easy trails that are under 5 miles, round-trip.
1. Fourth of July Lake
In the Sawtooths' picturesque White Cloud Mountains, take the 3.6-mile roundtrip hike to Fourth of July Lake. The trail starts in the forest and Fourth of July Lake is just a short jaunt down the trail, bordered by a scenic meadow and breathtaking views. For an extra challenge, keep climbing the trail to Washington Lake, which will add another 3 miles or so to your journey.
2. City of Rocks
Idaho's City of Rocks is an expansive geologic paradise with scenic trails criss-crossing and winding over, under, and around magnificent rock formations found nowhere else. There are over
22 miles of trails
for every ability, ranging from the kid-friendly Bath Rock Trail to the 5-mile Castle Rocks Trail.
3. Marsh Creek Trail
This easy trail is a perfect adventure through the heart of Idaho's wilderness without the excruciating climbs. Just beyond Lolo Creek Campground, this diverse hike follows Marsh Creek -- one of the two main tributary streams that forms the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. You'll cross a scenic bridge and have multiple opportunities to see the landscape of trees and meandering streams open up into lush mountain valleys.
4. Mineral Ridge
Hiking the popular 3.3 mile Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail loop is an awesome and educational trek along the mesmerizing shoreline of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Wildlife viewing is incredible in this area, and the shady, well-maintained trail (the first one to be established by the BLM) is nothing if not perfect.
5. Roosevelt Ancient Cedars Loop
13 miles north of Nordman and near Priest Lake, the trees in this special forest are up to 12 feet in diameter and 150 feet tall. There is a short trail that leads to the base of Lower Granite Falls, as well as cascading tiers along the river. A 1.5-mile trail from the lower grove leads to the falls and the upper forest, which is remarkable to say the least.
6. Silver Creek Preserve
For an easy "hike" through a true Idaho treasure, this practically flat trail starts just below the visitor center and meanders through tall, marshy grass, lush trees, and along Silver Creek. The views are as incredible as they are filled with wildlife. While the trail itself is longer than 5 miles, it's easy to turn around at any point to head back, rest, or refuel.
7. Adam's Gulch
On the north side of Ketchum, this popular trail has multiple options depending on how energetic you're feeling. For a desert wildflower climb that will take you slightly over 5 miles, the Adams Gulch Loop is a fantastic dog-friendly trail. You can also take the Sunnyside Trail and pair it with Lane’s Trail, which climbs to an overlook with awesome views of the Pioneer Mountains.
8. Draper Wood River Preserve
A beautiful boardwalk and nature trail along the Big Wood River, the Draper Preserve is a scenic wetland viewing area that boasts colorful foliage in all seasons. This trail also involves crossing the artistically designed Bow Bridge.
9. Table Rock
This quintessential hike in Idaho's capital city is a must-do for every Idahoan, if only to see the capital from a new perspective. Boise's foothills are surprisingly beautiful in contrast to the lights of downtown, and while the area was recently scorched by a brush fire, the expansive view is still stunning. Multiple trails lead to the same spot to ensure the journey is accessible to everyone.
Even as the seasons change, these awesome hikes are short, easy, and perfect for all age levels. Which one will you try first?