Phantom Falls Trail
Explore a rugged and remote swathe of wilderness in the Sawtooth National Forest along the Phantom Falls Trail. Wander through lush pasturelands adorned with grazing cattle to the 20 m waterfall that cascades over a vertiginous alcove. Hidden in the backcountry, this pleasant hike boasts tranquility and solitude.
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Route Description for Phantom Falls Trail
The Phantom Falls Hike is a lovely trail that offers an experience unlike no other in the Sawtooth National Forest. Instead of the quintessential treks into the rugged mountain range, this path explores rolling foothills carpeted with lush meadowlands and pastures. Due to the primitive nature of the area, the path is often shrouded with overgrowth, so it is wise to wear long pants. Additionally, it is important to note that the cascade tends to dry in the summer months, so spring exploration is recommended. Be mindful of your footing when surveying the rocky and slippery base of the falls. Lastly, it should be pointed out that the dirt road to the trailhead is rough and rugged, so a vehicle with high-ground clearance is suggested, if not required.
While this route is not found at the top of the adventure bucket lists, we highly suggest adding it to your hiking itinerary. This family-friendly route is often unoccupied, so you will likely enjoy the trail to yourself. As you wander, you probably won’t encounter other hikers, but you will perhaps be in the company of grazing cattle—just be sure to watch out for ‘cow pies’! While the waterfall is the piece de resistance, the walk through the luxuriant meadows lavish with sagebrush and wildflowers is quite picturesque. Even if you cannot venture this route in the spring during peak run-off season, the precipitous alcove is worth exploring in and of itself—take the time to climb up and tour around the small cave on the left side of the falls! This hike finds itself ranked third on our list of the best hikes in the Sawtooth National Forest, so don’t sleep on it!
When you are ready, your journey to the Phantom Falls begins from the parking lot off Trapper Creek Road. From here, you will notice an assuming trailhead, take the southbound route into the verdant foothills. Meandering along Fall Creek, the single-track path will progress through communities of low-lying brush, including bitterbrush, sagebrush, and patches of arrowleaf balsamroot. Enjoy the peaceful sounds of the gurgling streamlet as you contour the creek canyon and marvel at the scene of the surrounding rolling hills adorned with vibrant wildflowers.
If you are lucky, as you gently climb through the meadowlands, you will be granted views of grazing cattle or deer! Minding your footing on the rocky, uneven terrain along the way, the pleasant path will wind through the glen, ultimately opening to the steep-walled recess hidden amongst the pasturelands. Revel in the sight of the narrow waterfall cascading over the craggy rock wall and enjoy a refreshing shower under its waters. Have lunch overlooking the mesmerizing waterfall and explore the unique sanctuary. When you are rested and rehydrated, retrace your footing along the path all the way back to the trailhead.
Phantom Falls is a 20 m waterfall that cascades over a vertiginous alcove in the Sawtooth National Forest. It is important to note that the chutes dry up in the summer, so spring exploration is highly recommended to enjoy the full effect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the trailhead for Phantom Falls, Idaho?
The Phantom Falls Trailhead is located off Trapper Creek Road.
How long is the Phantom Falls Trail?
The Phantom Falls Trail is a 4.8 km out-and-back hike in the Sawtooth National Forest
Insider Hints for Phantom Falls Trail
- The road to the trailhead is rough and rugged—vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended
- Be mindful of ‘cow pies’ on the path
- The trailhead is marked but lacks the trail’s name
- Wear long pants to avoid scratches when navigating the overgrowth
- Layer on the SPF, much of the route is exposed
Getting to the Phantom Falls Trail Trailhead
The Phantom Falls Hike is accessed from the trailhead off Trapper Creek Road.
Phantom Falls Trail Elevation Graph
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Phantom Falls Trail Reviews
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