Hikes in Boise National Forest
Explore the land occupied by dense forests, arid grasslands, flowering meadows, hundreds of lakes and reservoirs, steep mountains, hot springs, and wild waterways. Teeming with wildflowers in the spring and summer, vibrant with changing foliage in the autumn and a winter wonderland after snowfall, the landscape of Boise National Forest is breathtaking. While there is an abundance of recreation to partake in, hiking is undoubtedly the best and most immersive way to explore the backcountry.
From soaring crests and forested foothills to wooded ravines and valleys, the Boise National Forest is a hiker’s paradise. Tackle a long and involved trek circuit through into the mountains, attempt an arduous ascent up one of Boise’s ‘Grand Slam Peaks’ or enjoy a pleasant stroll to an idyllic hot spring. Yielding an extensive repertoire of hiking routes, the Boise National Forest has an adventure to suit your preference.
10 Awesome Hiking Routes in the Boise National Forest
As self-proclaimed hiking experts, we took on the burden of curating a list of the greatest hiking routes in the Boise National Forest. While it was no easy task, we did! From easy-going meanders to tireless climbs into the Boise Mountains, below you will find a variety of hikes worthy of your exploration.
- Bogus Basin Loop Trail - A lively ski resort turned hiking oasis in the summer months, the Bogus Basin Loop Trail is one of Boise’s beloved trails. Ascend the lush mountainside up to the summit of Shaffer Butte, which is the highest peak in the Boise Ridge Mountains, and revel in spellbinding mountain views.
- Lucky Peak Loop Hike - Climb up to the summit of one of Boise’s ‘Grand Slam Peaks’ on the Lucky Peak Loop. Otherwise known as Shaw Mountains, Lucky Peak boasts panoramic views of the surrounding Boise Mountains, the city below, and the distant Rocky Mountains. While demanding, this involved adventure is worth the sweat.
- Shingle Creek and Dry Creek Loop Hike - The Shingle Creek and Dry Creek Loop Hike explores the forested foothills of the Boise Mountains. Contour the rocky ridges that bound the perennial creeks and revel in the diversity of flora and fauna that occupy the environment.
- Sweet Connie Trail - Seeking a sweet adventure? The Sweet Connie Trail is an exciting trail that climbs up a hillside occupied by pasturelands abundant with sagebrush, flowering meadows, granite outcrops, and meandering creeks. You’ll even notice the Stack Rocks that rise above the treeline.
- Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail - Hike to the famed rocks that punctuate the pine forest. The Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail is a beloved trail in the Boise National Forest, so you will likely enjoy some company. Wander through ponderosa pines and Douglas firs to an epic overlook of Treasure Valley and nearby mountains.
- Mount Heinen Hike - Mount Heinen is the tallest summit in Boise’s ‘Grand Slam Peaks’. This arduous climb ascends exposed grasslands up to the 1,931 m mountain that provides incredible views of the Arrowrock Reservoir below, the surrounding Boise Mountains, and distant sights of the rugged Rocky Mountains.
- Skein Lake and Raft Lake Trail - What’s better than one lake? Two! The Skein Lake and Raft Lake Trail leads hikers through dense forests and lush meadows to two charming lakes bound by granite bluffs. This scenic excursion is ideal for families and those with a knack for fishing.
- Bonneville Hot Springs Hike - Luxuriate in one of the forest’s idyllic hot springs along the Bonneville Hot Springs Hike. This short but scenic adventure is open year-round and boasts the opportunity to soak in Mother Nature’s hot tub overlooking the wilderness.
- Shaw Mountain Hike - The Shaw Mountain Hike takes a more direct approach up to the summit of Lucky Peak. This strenuous and involved adventure alternates through grasslands abundant with sagebrush and pastures of wildflowers up to the forested summit.
- Five Mile Gulch Loop - Last on our top 10 list is the Five Mile Gulch Loop. Similar to the Shingle Creek and Dry Creek Loop Hike, this epic expedition into the foothills explores arid pasturelands and meandering creeks. Those seeking a great workout with wonderful views will enjoy this pleasant trail.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Boise National Forest?
The Boise National Forest is a natural sanctuary that boasts year-round outdoor pursuits. No matter the season, sun or snow, adventure is always just around the corner. The spring and summer offer lush vegetation and water recreation. Additionally, the numerous campgrounds are open, and roads are accessible. While winter outings are plentiful and pleasant, it is important to note that campgrounds and specific roads are subject to seasonal closure—check the Boise National Forest website for up-to-date notifications and information.
Other Outdoor Activities in the Boise National Forest
Encompassing over a 2.5million acres of land, the Boise National Forest is superabundant with recreational opportunities to satisfy each and every type of outdoor enthusiast. Populated with copious trails, hiking and mountain biking are undoubtedly the most popular activity in the forest and our chosen way to discover the backcountry, but the fun doesn’t stop here. The summer months provide incredible water recreation—the wild waterways, including the Payette River, beckon intrepid rafters, kayakers, and paddlers. The perennial streams and scenic lakes are magnets for fishermen, swimmers, and sightseers. We can’t forget the primitive campgrounds nestled in the wilderness!
Those seeking a more distant and uninvolved manner to explore the Boise National Forest can drive one of the scenic byways that intersect the wilderness—the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, the Payette River National Scenic Byway, and the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway. When the snow inevitably falls, the terrain transforms into a winter wonderland. The Bogus Basin becomes occupied by hundreds of skiers and snowboarders, and snowmobilers can enjoy select backcountry routes. The many hiking routes that adorn the forest convert into enchanting snowshoeing and cross-country skiing tracks. See what we mean? There are adventures to participate in, no matter the weather.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Boise National Forest
Where is the Boise National Forest?
The Boise National Forest is located to the northeast of Idaho’s state capital—Boise.
Are there bears in the Boise National Forest?
The Boise National Forest is abundant with a diversity of flora, including bears, mountain lions, elk, mule deer, and more.
Can you camp outside of designated campgrounds in the Boise National Forest?
Yes, dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Boise National Forest unless otherwise signposted. Please practice the No Trace Principles.
Epic Adventure Tours in the Boise National Forest
Sadly, we have yet to introduce any tours in the Boise National Forest. Fear not, we are constantly adding more incredible tours to our repertoire, so keep checking back! Until then, we encourage you to check out our other tours in the United States—you might just find a trip to satiate your appetite for adventure.
Find Other Amazing Hiking Regions in Idaho
Best Hikes in Boise National Forest
Bogus Basin Loop Trail
Of all the amazing hiking routes found in Idaho’s Boise National Forest, one adventure commands the top of the charts—the Bogus Basin Loop Trail. This beautiful route explores the Bogus Basin Recreation Area and summits Shafer Butte, offering breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
Lucky Peak Loop Hike
Towering above Boise, the Lucky Peak Loop Hike is an incredible adventure that beckons the exploration of outdoor enthusiasts. Hike or bike up the brush-cloaked slopes and enjoy the remarkable overlook of the Rocky Mountains and the city below. Full of wonderment and wonderful scenery, this adventure is a staple when visiting the state’s capital.
Shingle Creek and Dry Creek Loop Hike
The Single Creek and Dry Creek Loop Hike is a pleasant trail that explores Boise’s forested foothills. Contrary to its name, this adventure is anything but dry, instead, it demands several creek crossings—few of which are equipped with bridges. Exhibiting a variety of flora and fauna in addition to wonderful views of the forested mountains, this is one of, if not the best hike that the Boise National Forest has to offer.
Sweet Connie Trail
Hiking the Sweet Connie Trail will take you uphill into the pines. This pleasant hike is one of Boise’s best-kept secrets or at least it was! Today, you will often find the trail abundant with mountain bikers and hikers exploring the hillside, delighting in the diversity of flora and fauna.
Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail
Hiking the Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail explores the forested flanks of Boise Ridge. Leading through corridors of ponderosa pines and communities of sagebrush, this pleasant path opens to the incredible Stack Rocks that rise from the landscape, offering expansive views of Treasure Valley.
Mount Heinen Hike
The Mount Heinen Hike is a demanding and dynamic adventure in the Boise National Forest that beckons the exploration of experienced hikers and intrepid spirits. Ascend the precipitous slopes of the highest peak in the ‘Grand Slam’ and you will be rewarded with spellbinding panoramas of the mountainous landscape.
Skein Lake and Raft Lake Trail
Hiking the Skein Lake and Raft Lake Trail affords anyone a great time. This pleasant hike through pine woodlands culminates at not one but two scenic lakes bound by the granite ridges. These charming lakes are ideal for fishing—assuming you have a license!
Bonneville Hot Springs Hike
The Bonneville Hot Springs Hike is more an easy-going walk than a hike—though we love it just the same. Wander alongside Warm Springs Creek through a lush scenic meadow to an idyllic hot spring. Calling for us year-round, this little oasis in the wilderness is worth indulging.
Shaw Mountain Hike
Hike one of Boise’s famed ‘Grand Slam Peaks’ on the Shaw Mountain Trail. Shaw Mountain, otherwise known as Lucky Peak, rises above Boise at an elevation of 1,554 m, demanding a modest climb through moorlands abundant with a diversity of flora and fauna.
Five Mile Gulch Loop Hike
The Five Mile Gulch Loop Trail is one of the best adventures in Boise, in fact, it is ranked 10th on our list of the greatest hiking routes in the Boise National Forest. This remote and rugged adventure boasts tranquility and a great workout whilst boasting incredible views—what more could you ask for?
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