One of the highlights of high-country hiking is the surprise and spray of a hidden, silvery waterfall framed in granite cliffs.
Waterfalls are the icing on the cake when it comes to hiking and backpacking. There are hundreds hidden in the mountain ranges of the Northwest.
Any waterfall, from a three-foot one flowing over a beaver dam to a full-blown 50-footer cascading over a cliffy ravine is a refreshing place to stop on a hike. They are also fun for photography.
I seen a lot of waterfalls throughout Idaho over the years and these stick in my mind.
Sawtooth Lodge: Surprisingly, right behind the lodge at Grandjean on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness, is a silky falls cascading over rugged granite. It is a short stroll from the lodge and a great “first waterfall” hike for kids.
The road to Grandjean is located off Highway 21 between Lowman and Stanley. The lodge is about 7 miles off the highway.
Goose Creek Falls: Here’s a moderate hike to a waterfall near Brundage Mountain Resort, northwest of McCall. The trailhead can be found off the Goose Creek Lake Road (also the turnoff for Brundage Mountain from Highway 55). The trail is popular and easy to find.
Get there by traveling west from McCall on Highway 55 and turning right at the Brundage Mountain/Goose Lake Road.
Bridal Veil Falls: Located on a trail from Stanley Lake, this is a great hike for beginners and all ages, taking hikers right along the boundary of the Sawtooth Wilderness with good views of the front of the Sawtooths near Stanley. It’s a moderate hike.
Take Idaho 21 about 5 miles northwest of Stanley and turn on Stanley Lake Road. Go to the trailhead.
Lady Face Falls: Here’s a bonus. The falls is located on the way to the spot to see Bridal Veil Falls. About 2.6 miles from the trailhead, look for the sign to Lady Face Falls. Head off to your left and you’ll see the 50 to 75-foot falls on Stanley Lake Creek.
Elk Creek Falls: This is the tallest waterfall in Idaho, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and located in the Elk Creek National Recreation Area. Actually, it’s three separate waterfalls totaling over 140 feet carved out in a beautiful canyon filled with amazing column-type basalt formations.
The falls is located about 50 miles east of Moscow and well worth a long weekend trip of exploring waterfalls in North Idaho.
Get there by traveling east on Highway 8, passing through Troy, Deary and Bovill. About 11 miles past Bovill will be signs for Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area.
Granite Falls: It’s on the westside of Priest Lake and well worth the trip if you are exploring Priest Lake and northern Idaho.
The falls is unusual that it winds down granite cliffs. It’s not straight up and down. It’s like a silky ribbon winding back and forth on the cliffs and whirling into a pool below. It’s got a beautiful curve that lends itself to excellent photos.
Get to the Granite Falls trailhead and the Grove of Ancient Cedars by driving about 14 miles north of Nordman. You’ll be on Forest Road 302, which is an extension of Highway 57.
For more waterfalls, search National Forest websites and look under hiking.