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
Crooked River Trail
The Crooked River Trail is one of many scenic routes that showcase the natural beauty of Idaho. This peaceful riverside walk offers adventure opportunities year-round that the whole family can enjoy. What more could you ask for?
Pat’s Trail Loop
The Pat’s Trail Loop explores a more secluded area of the Boise National Forest, allowing you to indulge in the beauty of the landscape without many distractions. Wander through pine groves and expansive grasslands that offer great views of the mountainscape.
Station Creek to Bald Mountain Hike
The Station Creek to Bald Mountain Hike demands an arduous, off-trail ascent into the Boise Mountains, but the panoramic views from the summit are worth the sweat. Yielding a diversity of flora and fauna along the way, there is no shortage of excitement along this climb!
Dry Creek Trail
The Dry Creek Trail explores the wild character of the Boise Foothills. This epic expedition travels through the large drainage bound by desert riparian habitats and pine woodlands abundant with a variety of flora and fauna. We love this hike, and you will too.
Kepros Mountain Trail
The Kepros Mountain Trail ascends one of Boise’s famed ‘Grand Slam Peaks’. Tempting experienced hikers and ambitious beginners, this demanding ascent explores arid moorlands and pockets of pines up to the summit that exposes breathtaking vistas.
Around the Mountain Hike
Enjoy a different perspective of Bogus Basin along the Around the Mountain Hike. What is a bustling ski resort in the winter turns into a hiking and mountain biking paradise in the summer for us to enjoy. This lovely route is ideal for intermediate hikers and families with older children.
Mores Mountain Loop Trail
Sometimes all you need is a short, scenic hike, and the Mores Mountain Loop Trail offers just that. Wander around the flanks of the slope, through pines and wildflower patches whilst reveling in the breathtaking scenes of the mountainous landscape.
Station Creek Trail
The Station Creek Trail is a hidden treasure in the Boise National Forest. This lovely path explores shaded pine forests and open meadows along the flanks of Bald Mountain. Don’t forget your camera—the mountain views are unrivaled!
Moondipper Hot Spring and Pine Burl Hot Spring Hike
The Moondipper Hot Spring and Pine Burl Hot Spring Hike is a family-friendly adventure beckoning your exploration. Wander along the scenic riverbanks to several hot springs that sit along the Middle Fork Payette River.
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