Before we visited Idaho, I never thought of it as being a beautiful state. My mind just kept thinking potatoes and the blue football field at Boise State. I wanted our adventure to be about being outdoors and hiking and I didn’t even consider researching Idaho. Because of this we were going to skip Idaho completely. I have said it many times, I know, but I am so grateful that we didn’t. We really have to thank our friends Doug and Elizabeth (Epicdetour.com). They talked us into going to Ketchum with them and by the end we didn’t want to leave. Idaho is the best kept secret in the US.
What we learned while exploring Ketchum the first time was that it is all about the outdoors. What kind of hike do you want to get in? This area has it. Easy hiking trails, moderate hiking trails and hard hiking trails. Trails to lakes, through mountains and along streams. There is a hike for everyone.
But which hikes should you not miss? The following are our favorites and what we think are the best hikes in Ketchum (Sun Valley).
The Best Hikes in Ketchum (Sun Valley)
This year we realized how many lakes are in the area. Again, we didn’t expect it. The mountains hold a lot of surprises and gems. We couldn’t choose our favorite hike in Ketchum (Sun Valley), so we put them in order of mileage. All unique and ones that we would do again and again! The best part? They are ALL Dog Friendly!
Norton Lakes Trail No. 135
Miles: 5 ♦ Elevation Gain : 1400′ ♦ Trail Type: Out & Back ♦ Trail: Moderate
A short hike through the forest and meadows, it’s not easy. You start climbing immediately and it doesn’t ease up until you make it to the lake. There is a small trail around the lake. If you head clockwise there is a short path to another lake. We watched dogs play in the water, trout swim by and marveled at the reflection. Secretly, this could be tied with Pioneer Cabin Trail for my favorite hike in Ketchum!
Getting to Norton Lakes Trail No. 135
From town head north on highway 75. It’s not long in miles, but the gravel road through the woods will slow you down. It took us about 50 minutes to go about 18 miles, but it was a beautiful drive. This hike is worth every minute in the car.
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.731018, -114.633081
Adams Gulch Loop No. 142
Miles: 6 ♦ Elevation Gain: 1,000′ ♦ Trail Type: Loop ♦ Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Close to town, this area is popular for mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. You can get beautiful views and a decent hike or ride in. It’s popular with the locals and tourists because of the choices you have. We have done short hikes, long hikes and long mountain bike rides in this area.
Getting to Adams Gulch Loop No. 142
Head north on highway 75 for just a short while and follow the signs to Adam’s Gulch. It’s an easy drive and there is a decent size parking lot.
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.704853, -114.388015
Kane Lake Trail No. 66
Miles: 7.5 ♦ Elevation Gain : 1700′ ♦ Trail Type: Out & Back ♦ Trail: Moderate/Hard
This hike started off very easy through the forest. Fast forward to mile two and it starts to climb, mile 2.5 it really climbs and at 3 you are wondering if it will end. The majority of the elevation is in the last mile and a half and if that wasn’t hard enough a lot of it is over rocks. As soon as you hit the top and see the lake, you realize how worth it, it was. Beautiful waterfalls that flow into the lake, the surrounding mountains and the blue and green water. This was the first lake that was TOO cold to take a dip in! There were a couple camp sites in the area and a beautiful meadow and a black sand beach.
One of the best parts of the hike other than the water falls, streams and wild flowers? There were wild raspberry bushes! They were absolutely delicious.
Getting to Kane Lake Trail
Head out on Sun Valley Road, which turns into Trail Creek Road. You will read on a few sites that this is a 20 minute drive. That is far from the truth. It will take at least 55 minutes from Boundary Campground on Trail Creek Road. Continue on this road until you see a sign for Kane Lake. The sign is on your left, take a hard right, you might miss the road. It’s better to have a 4×4 or high clearance but we saw a Subaru at the trail head. Be careful for pot holes, uneven lanes and cows either grazing or laying in the road!
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.827401, -114.175285
Pioneer Cabin Trail Loop No. 122
Miles: 9 ♦ Elevation Gain: 3,110′ ♦ Trail Type: Loop ♦ Trail Difficulty: Hard
This trail has it all. Amazing views, challenging climbs, crystal clear streams and beautiful meadows. The highlight is the old ski hut at the top that people still use today. We packed a lunch, brought the dogs and had an incredible day getting lost in nature.
This trail can be done as a out and back or a loop. If you start to the left, it is a steady climb in the sun. If you start to the right, head across a small bridge and it is a hard climb shaded by trees. The trail either way is easy to stay on and locate. The trail itself is diverse from, compact dirt, slate and gravel.
Getting to Pioneer Cabin Trail Loop
Head east on Sun Valley Road which turns into Trail Creek Road. Take a right on NF-137. This is the longest stretch and it is a gravel road to the trail head. There is a small parking lot with vault toilets.
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.739430, -114.232286
Other Trails in Ketchum (Sun Valley) to Explore!
Chocolate Gulch Trail No. 312
This trail starts at Fox Creek Trail Head. After crossing the bridge, take a right and follow it along the river. This area is popular with trail runners, people hiking with dogs and kids. Coordinates for the parking lot: 43.757655, -114.401612.
North Fork Trail No. 303
This trail connects Chocolate Gulch Trail with Fox Creek Trail. You get the best views from this trail but there is no water along this trail.
Fox Creek Trail No. 149
You can reach this trail at two different trail heads. The first is at Lake Creek Trail Head, Coordinates: 43.728214, -114.382367. The second is at Fox Creek Trail Head, Coordinates: 43.757655, -114.401612.
Lake Creek Trail Head
There are two options of hikes here. One takes you on a climb for a view, the other is great for dogs and an easy hike along the river on double and single track. At exactly two miles it starts to climb over to Fox Creek Trail Head. This was a great turn around point for 4 miles and good enough for dogs who can’t go too far. The trail is almost entirely flat, just a couple spots where there is a little elevation and great areas to take a dip in the summer or places for dogs to get a drink.
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.728214, -114.382367
Old Adams Gulch Road Trail to Eve’s Gulch Trail No. 146
Round trip this hike is about 14 miles. An out (uphill) and back (downhill). It’s beautiful and popular with mountain bikers because of the climb and fun downhill. A decent hike or a great trail run if you are training for elevation. There are river crossings, forests and short meadows. Mostly shaded there are some sunny spots so make sure to bring enough water. Mountain bikers are supposed to give way to hikers, but I continue to take an easy step aside for them. It is much easier and safer for us to take a second.
Parking Lot Coordinates: 43.704853, -114.388015
Food and Relaxation After Your Hike
If you come down the mountain or out of the woods and are hungry, check out Sawtooth Brewery for a beer and pretzel or A Taste of Thai for the best $8.50 lunch special!
Sawtooth Brewery: 631 Warm Springs Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340
A Taste of Thai: 380 1st Ave N, Ketchum, ID 83340
If you need a little relaxation, I highly suggest a soak in a natural hot springs. Good for the joints or muscles or mind. The best in the area, check out Frenchman’s Hot Springs. About thirty minutes down Warm Springs Rd., there is a very small parking area and then two areas to soak. The first is right against the road and then twenty feet up cross the creek on the logs to four separate small pools of varying heat.
Parking: 43°38’28.5″N 114°29’23.1″W
As with any trail, please make sure to pack out what you pack in. This includes picking up after your dog. With some of the easier trails, we noticed that people were not very good about this. If we want these trails to continue to be dog friendly, we must follow the only real rule there is.
Must: Water, snacks, sun screen (summer), good hiking shoes and first aid kid. If you are bringing the pups, doggie bags, snacks & bowl.
Optional: Hiking poles, hat, knife, compass, map, chapstick and towel. If bringing the pups, doggie shoes, frisbee and goggles.
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