6 Day Hikes in Boise & Beyond

Our own, Ryan Thorne, enjoying the views as he heads up the ridge just past Alice Lake in the heart of the Sawtooth Range. 

I’m Ryan Thorne, part of the Marketing Team here at Maverick Car Company, and I love hiking.

As an Idaho native, I’ve always been mesmerized by the beauty and isolation our state has to offer, and the great thing is, activities like hiking are absolutely free (besides gas and food 😉). Living in Boise puts us within driving distance of some epic wilderness and city hiking trails, and if you’re new to hiking or recently relocated to the Gem State, you should get out there and explore.

To share my love of the outdoors, I selected six day hikes you can check out. These trails are grouped into “moderate” and “difficult” categories. I also notated my favorite from each category. There’s no crazy terrain or climbing involved in the “difficult” category. Those trails will just take longer and have steeper terrain for novice hikers to get through.

Disclaimer: You may notice I didn’t include “easy” day hikes on this list. Those trails are essentially flat walking paths with little to no elevation. If you’re wanting to get into hiking with an easier start, I highly recommend the Boise Greenbelt. 

Moderate Day Hikes

Table Rock Trail

Photo Credit: William Richmond via AllTrails

Trailhead: Old Penitentiary Parking Lot 
Distance: 3.7 miles (Loop) / Elevation Gain: 895 feet

This one is a local favorite because you can bring the whole family and get to the trailhead in no time. You can also push yourself hard or just take it easy and enjoy the seasonal wildflowers and panoramic views of Boise and the Treasure Valley. Most people access the well-worn trail from the Old Penitentiary parking lot and loop back around to the same spot. I don’t usually take the traditional route from the Old Penitentiary parking lot these days. That doesn’t mean the traditional route isn’t any good. I just prefer the alternate entrance near the Warm Springs Golf Course, which is located on the east side of warm springs across the street from the golf course parking lot. 

Bonus: If you’ve already done this hike and you want to mix it up a bit, take the path to the right on the fork just before the switch backs and check out the rocky approach on the back end of Table Rock.

Bogus Basin Loop Trail

Photo Credit: Rebecca Cathey via AllTrails

Trailhead: J.R. Simplot Lodge 
Distance: 7.1 miles / Elevation Gain: 1,581 feet

For absolutely gorgeous views of Boise, the Treasure Valley, and the protruding peaks of the Boise National Forest, this is the trail. It’s also a great option for the whole family and there’s cold drinks and tasty food when you arrive back at Bogus Basin. The higher elevation makes for more challenging hiking, but you can still take it pretty easy on this one. Watch out for mountain bikers on some sections of the trail. They can come around corners at high speeds. 

Bonus: To add a few more miles to the hike, you can extend the loop and do the 8.9-mile Deer Point Around the Mountain Trail.  

Station Creek Trail

Photo Credit: Rebecca Cathey via AllTrails

Trailhead: Off of Banks Lowman Road east of Garden Valley
Distance: 5.5 miles (Out & Back) / Elevation Gain: 1,637 feet

You’ll need to drive about an hour north on Highway 55 to Garden Valley to reach the trailhead. This is an uphill hike, and though moderate, you may not want to bring smaller kids or dogs along. As you head up the trail, you get great views of Garden Valley and the rolling hills/mountains surrounding the area. There are sections without any shade and you can end up looking like a human lobster if you don’t wear proper clothing or sunscreen. Once you reach the top, there’s excellent 360 degree views of the pine covered hills and valley below. 

Bonus: If this route is too short for your liking, you can go on to the peak of Bald Mountain by continuing for another three miles on the trail. 

Difficult Day Hikes

Lucky Peak Loop Trail

Photo Credit: John Dudek via AllTrails

Trailhead: Residential parking off of East Highland Valley Road (Boise)
Distance: 13.6 miles / Elevation Gain: 3,166 feet

This one is closeby, challenging, and you can reward yourself with a meal and beverage post-hike since it’s near Bown Crossing and Downtown Boise. I’ve heard people disparage the “loop” label on this hike because, at least according to AllTrails, the trail runs along the greenbelt for a few miles to complete the loop. Also, sections of the trail are considered a dirt road by hiking purists. But all that aside, this is a fun hike with spectacular views of the Treasure Valley, and the rippling hills surrounding Lucky Peak Reservoir. 

Bonus: Extend this hike a few miles by taking the off trail above Highway 21 and the Boise River toward Lucky Peak Reservoir. You’ll have to turn around when the trail ends at East Sandy Point Lane. 

Trail Creek Lakes

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Oldenkamp

Trailhead: Grandjean Campground
Distance: 10.3 miles (Out & Back) / Elevation Gain: 2,851 feet

This one is a doozy, but the views and turquoise lakes are truly a sight to behold. The trailhead is about two hours from Boise via Highways 21 or 55 (there’s minimal time distance on either route). I recommend getting an early start on this because there’s a lot of elevation gain, and if you’re not trying to kill yourself, you’ll want time to rest and refuel along the way. I loved getting up into the Sawtooths from the opposite side of Stanley, and observing the massive, white stone columns of the range jutting into the heavens. If you bring a fishing pole, you can catch beautiful brook trout from the Trail Creek Lakes. 

Bonus: Keep following the main trail and you can head around the north end of Stanley Lake, or you can cut through the Sawtooths and connect to the maze of trails on the other side of the range for awesome multi-day backpacking. 

Trail Creek Lakes

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Oldenkamp

Trailhead: Pettit Lake
Distance: 12 miles (Out & Back) / Elevation Gain: 1,675 feet

This trail is a 2.5 hour drive from Boise on Highway 21. I love this hike because I grew up camping with my grandparents in the Sawtooths each summer and hiked sections of this as a child. After getting past Pettit Lake, you head through some thick forest and up some winding switchbacks on the side of the mountain. Keep your sandals handy as you’ll have to cross a stream filled with jumping brook trout before reaching Alice Lake. I’d pack a lunch and enjoy the silent spires of El Capitan peak and clear blue waters of Alice Lake before heading back. 

Bonus: You can make this an epic multi-day hike through the Sawtooth Range by continuing past Alice Lake. My favorite is the 27.6-mile Alice Lake to Toxaway Lake to Imogene Lake Loop. Amazing views and peaceful alpine lakes abound. 

We hope you found this article helpful and inspiring. There’s a wide variety of day hikes all over the Boise area and beyond, so get out there and explore some for yourself. Apps like AllTrails are an excellent resource when looking for new trails. If there’s a trail you like that Ryan didn’t cover, let us know. Our community loves swapping stories and info with other adventurers and learning from each other. 

Next Week: Best Mountain Bike Trails Near Boise