Hike to Lower Palisades Lake

Lower Palisades Lake:  hiking…fishing…and compass navigation


Not far from Swan Valley in Eastern Idaho, is the Palisades Creek. This creek is currently a crushing force of water that moves faster than most rivers I have eyed. Hiking upstream provides a gorgeous four mile hike which will lead you straight to Lower Palisades Lake.

My destination preference would of been a hike to Upper Palisades Lake…as the photos I found online were fabulous! Talk about a pristine little gem. Unfortunately though, we only had a half of a day for this hike. To hike to the upper lake, we would of needed to make it an overnighter, as it would of been over twelve miles.

Though the allure of crystal-clear water is definitely not found in the lower lake, it is a mighty fine trail that is worth trekking.

Should we ever be in the area again and have time for an overnight backpacking trip…Upper Palisades Lake is where we will go! You can skim over this detailed blog post, which I found on Pinterest, to see where I found some of the inspiration for this hike.

This trail probably gets quite busy with traffic in the summer. In the late spring however…it was fabulous!



You will find the trailhead on Palisades Creek Road, just past the small campground at the end of the road. There was ample parking and a vault toilet. I was surprised by how many cars we found…yet we really didn’t see that many hikers overall…considering how far back the trail goes.

Palisades Creek Trailhead Parking Area

This trail is mixed terrain, but there was always a well-worn path.

This boy is just a step behind his daddy, quickly learning to be a man.

We love variety! So it was fun for us to cross dirt, mud, gravel, bridges and even to find a few easy switchbacks on the trail.


Several areas had some mild flooding, as the creek was literally overflowing. I’m assuming that the swift flow is due to the melting snow of spring? Perhaps this becomes a small creek that runs clear, later in the summer? I wonder…


Conceivably this becomes a small creek that runs clear, later in the summer? I wonder…

Palisades Creek in Palisades Idaho

Afternoon Camp

Barry Good Times:  Day hike with the Windburner Stove

As we venture out for these longer day hikes, we have found that we all delight in a Halfway Campout. This is either the halfway point of our hiking loop or the scenic destination that we enjoy before turning back on the trail.

We were not sure what to expect at Lower Palisades Lake. We came armed with our picnic lunch, water shoes and fishing poles.

As there was rain in the forecast, we opted for a hot lunch. With our small MSR Windburner Stove System (1.8 L model) we were able to enjoy chili dogs and ramen soup. It was awesome! The kids are still talking about that late-afternoon lunch! We heated the hot dogs in a pan and reconstituted our Black Bart Chili by Alpine Aire…it was dee-lish after a long hike in the cool air!


After a hearty supper, Lexi snuggled up with her book in our Happy Hammock and Angie and I snuggled up…together…enjoying the view.

Cozy in a Happy Hammock after a nice 4 mile hike!


The boys spent some time fishing on the lake. Though there were no bites, they enjoyed the fun and the opportunity to play with their new Eagle Claw® Pack-It Compact Fishing Poles.

Check out these telescoping fishing poles by Eagle Claw

After ample fun, the rain clouds started to rush in. That was our cue to pack up and crank it down the mountain. The hike out was much quicker and my kids were troopers in the rain..and crossing through the mud! Pretty fun for the kids, I think!





Hiking with kids that are constantly in a growth spurt? So are we! Happy hikers are those that don’t have growling tummies.

Trail Snacks

In my efforts to keep things lively, I’ve been experimenting with some fun snacks and treats. Normally everything we consume on the trail is crazy healthy. We recently discovered though, that mixing it up with some fun snacks for the kids (treats, if you will)…inspires our hikes and takes it to a whole new level.

This snack was coconut-toffee peanuts with mini M&M’s™. It was a big hit! We ate this as we started our trek, as I knew those little chocolates would melt. (You can find both ingredients for super cheap in the bulk bins at WinCo Foods.)

Hiking Tips

  • Use the restroom at the trailhead. This trail follows the creek most of the way, and there is not much easy access to wander off trail and pop-a-squat if you know what I mean. There is a primitive out house at the camp area, right before you reach the lower lake.
  • Take the trail up. After the switchbacks, you will come to a open grassy area. There were some wooden signs, but we didn’t really notice what they said. Go to the left to get to the lake, go to the right and walk across the grassy area and beyond to find the vault toilet with NO door.
  • Don’t plan to go into the lake. The water was very murky. There was also limited access to the lake for fishing…not really a place for entering.
  • After the grassy area, take the trail to the left. You will find a horse resting area. Continue just a bit further and this was where we set up camp. From there you can wander down to the lake and back.
  • For information on the campground near the trailhead, click HERE.
  • Horses also use this trail…so expect to see a couple…and watch for the lovelies that drop behind in their wake.




4 thoughts on “Hike to Lower Palisades Lake

  1. I will watch out for that horses. Is it a long hike? I am planning to bring lots of water just to be sure. like a roadeavour collapsible water bottle


    1. It is a pretty decent hike. I am one of those that always hike with plenty of water…it is just my nature. But, I prefer to be prepared…especially when it is warm. Happy hiking!


  2. What a fun adventure! It’s sort of weird for me to have you guys exploring Idaho while I am so far away! It’s almost like having a friend housesit :). Thanks for taking me along virtually.


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