Best Hikes in Salmon-Challis National Forest (ID)


The Salmon-Challlis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres of east-central Idaho. Individuals have the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscapes of the Continental Divide, the vast, 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church– River of No Return Wilderness, the newly designated Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness, the snow-covered cap of the tallest peak in Idaho, Borah Peak, or the free-flowing waters of the Wild & Scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The forest shares its borders with several other Idaho national forests including: Payette, Boise, and Sawtooth National Forest.

Today, the Salmon-Challis National Forest is valued for its recreational opportunities, water, vast open spaces, wilderness, and biodiversity. The best hikes in Salmon-Challis National Forest are described below. Official Website.

Nearest Metro AreaBoise, ID
Area Size4,235,940 acres
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908
Hiking Trails2,000+ miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Salmon-Challis National Forest

(*** = top hikes in Salmon-Challis National Forest)

Iron Bog Lake Trail*** – 3.4 miles out and back

Steep first mile before leading to the popular Iron Bog Lake with stunning mountain views along the way. There isn’t shade until you get to the lake. There are also several great campsites there as well.

Kane Lake Trail #66 – 9.6 miles out and back

This trail follows Kane Creek through aspen patches.  The beautiful high Pioneer Mountain Range can be seen in the background. Kane Lake is said to be the prettiest lake in the Lost River Ranger District. It is well stocked with fish. The first four miles of this trail is easy to moderate in difficulty.  The last mile requires some determination by the hiker. This mile leaves the bottom and the trail becomes very hard to identify.

Merriam Lake Trail #197 – 4.0 miles out and back

This is a moderately steep hike that leads to a beautiful lake with great views of Borah Peak and Leatherman Peak. There is also good fishing at Merriam Lake. Please note that the road to the trailhead is extremely rough the last few miles.

Mt. Borah Peak Trail*** – 4.6 miles out and back

Extremely challenging but beautiful climb up to Idaho’s highest peak (12,662′). The first part of the trail goes through scattered timber.  The trail is easy to moderate for about 2 miles, however the last mile has sections of  hand-over-hand extreme climbing through bare rock. This challenging climb is highly popular and takes an average of 12 hours. Unless you are doing this in mid to late summer, climbing gear is necessary as there will be snow on the way to the summit.

Warm Springs Trail to Goldbug Hot Springs – 4.2 miles out and back

Fairly easy hike to along Warm Spring Creek to beautiful hot springs. The trailhead is located on private property but is still accessible. The trail also features waterfalls.

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