Majestic waterfalls, stunning rock formations, and pristine natural forest -- make no bones about it, Idaho’s Elk Creek Falls National Recreation Trail has a lot to offer pups and people looking for a scenic spot to stretch their legs! Though the two-mile loop can easily be done in a day, if you’re looking to explore the wider Clearwater National Forest, you and your pooch can pitch your tent at the Elk River Campground, a few miles away down Forest Rd 3311. You’ll also find plenty of parking at the trailhead on Forest Rd 1452. The route is pretty pawpular with Vandal students, families, and local doggos and owners -- your pooch might find some new playmates, but this isn’t a great trail for those looking for alone time.
Elk Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall system in the entire state of Idaho. Elk Creek is actually a series of three falls -- at ninety feet, the middle falls is particularly impressive, and this section boasts an overlook for those willing to climb a little uphill. If you can go the extra mile, do! The view over the lower and middle falls to the rest of the Elk River Recreation area has to be seen to be believed. Visit in late spring if you can -- the blue-eyed Marys, shooting stars, calypso orchids, and wood anemones combine to make the hike one of the most colorful natural experiences you can have this far north while staying on the right side of the law.
The trail makes for a fantastically family-friendly hike -- though there are some steep inclines, they’re mostly short, and the ones near the top of the falls are optional (if highly recommended). You won’t have to go too far to find facilities, either, as there are restrooms and picnic tables at the trailhead. The forest is home to the usual crop of black bears, but grizzlies have been spotted occasionally, so keep your wits about you. Remember to bring bags and water, and enjoy your trip to the falls!