Best Hikes in Caribou-Targhee National Forest (ID)

Overview

Caribou-Targhee National Forest is located in the states of Idaho and Wyoming, with a small section in Utah.  The forest extends over 2.63 million acres.  To the east the forest borders Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest.  Most of the forest is a part of the 20 million acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem or “the Greater Yellowstone Area”.

The Curlew National Grassland, also administered by the Forest Service, comprises 47,000 acres of public land.  This grassland is managed to promote and demonstrate grassland agriculture and sustained-yield management of forage, fish and wildlife, water and recreation resources.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest makes a great getaway to escape the crowds of nearby national parks while still enjoying breathtaking scenery. Many of the forest’s best hikes are described below. Official Website.

StateIdaho; Wyoming; Montana
Nearest Metro AreaIdaho Falls, ID
Area Size2,630,716 acres
EstablishedSeptember 5, 1903
Hiking Trails1,600 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Caribou-Targhee National Forest

  • Alaska Basin Trail*** – 16.6 miles out and back
    • Incredible but challenging hike in the Grand Tetons that offers amazing views and alpine meadows. The trail heads south from Teton Canyon for a little over 8 miles until it reaches the Basin Lakes. Alaska Basin presents beautiful alpine scenery with a field rich of wildflowers in the late summer until fall. Depending on the snowfall however, this hike is well worth it anytime of year. Keep in mind this is prime grizzly country.
  • Mesa Falls Nature Trail – 2.2 miles out and back
    • The Mesa Nature Trail starts at the upper parking lot of the Mesa Falls Visitor Center. It meanders through a quiet forest and ends at an overlook of Lower Mesa Falls. Interpretive stops along the way are described in a brochure available at the Visitor Center. This is a great short hike, perfect for the whole family.
  • Palisades Creek Trail to Upper Palisades Lake – 14.6 miles out and back
    • The trail follows Palisades Creek past Lower Palisades Lake all the way up to Upper Palisades Lake. Elevation rises gradually about 1000′ along the way. There are beautiful views throughout and great fishing in the lakes!
  • South Darby Trail #033*** – 5.4 miles out and back
    • Located in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness portion of Caribou-Targhee National Forest in WY, this is a beautiful, cant-miss trail. The hike is punctuated by waterfalls and open flowered meadows.  The well maintained trail is a popular choice for an easy day hike, and receives heavy use. Towards the end of the trail hikers will arrive at the Wind Cave. The trailhead is found by the foot bridge at the end of Darby Canyon road.
  • Table Mountain Trail*** – 11.8 mile loop
    • Another strenuous hike not for the faint of heart taking off from the Teton Canyon trailhead. The trail climbs over 4000′ in elevation over 6 miles to the top of Table Mountain. The peak of Table Mountain sits on the west border of Grand Teton National Park. However, your reward is some of the best views of the Grand Tetons that not many get to see! There are 2 routes to the top: Huckleberry (7 miles) and The Face (4 miles). The Face Trail is more direct but is also steeper and has a lot more loose rock to traverse. Come prepared as either route will have a considerable amount of rock scrambling and depending on the season, snow as well.

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