Hiking in Sun ValleyPhoto: Carol Waller

Our Favorite Hiking trails in and around the Wood River Valley

One of the biggest reasons why so many of us choose to live in or visit the Wood River Valley is because of our backyard.

While we certainly love the culture and sense of community the four small towns of our Valley offer, it’s what’s just beyond town that really connects us all. The beauty of our part of the Northern Rockies and the playground it is home to are tough to top.

Whether you like hiking, skiing or mountain biking, fishing, photography, Plain air painting or simply witnessing the wonders of nature with your kids or grandkids, the Wood River Valley is a magical place. That’s because it’s easy to enjoy all these things and much more simply by heading out into our backyard.

To help you make the most out of all the Wood River Valley has to offer, here’s a rundown of some of our favorite backyard adventures.         

Out the Backdoor

If you love to hike, there are endless hiking options leading from every community in the Wood River Valley—from short, dog- and family-friendly strolls like the Howard Preserve in Bellevue or the Sellgren Trail in Ketchum, to long jaunts into the mountains like Quigley Canyon in Hailey or Trail Creek just beyond Sun Valley.

Easy: Hailey Greenway runs along the Big Wood River and is a perfect place for youngsters to take a hike. One of the most popular places to walk dogs or hit the river for some fishing, the Greenway runs from the Wood River Land Trust’s Draper Wood River Preserve just off Bullion Street in Hailey, down through the Colorado Gulch Preserve off Broadford Road. 

Variable: Adams Gulch may be the most popular hiking (and dog walking) spot in the Wood River Valley. Nestled in the tree-covered hills just north of Ketchum, Adams Gulch offers a variety of hiking options, with all kinds of loops for any energy level. If you don’t mind crossing paths with people and pets, this is the perfect hiking spot for you.

Challenging: Bald Mountain Trail covers what is best known during the winter as the Sun Valley Ski Area. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and access options that include a gondola ride, the Bald Mountain Trail is a must for any hiking fan. It isn’t an easy hike, however, as the trail covers 3,200 vertical feet in five miles. That’s why some folks ride the gondola up and then hike back down.

Short Drives

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve offers up some of the most unique terrain in the country, making it a popular spot for day hikes. 

Located just over an hour’s drive southeast of the Wood River Valley, Craters of the Moon is an island of lava flows and cinder cones sprawled out in the midst of the “Sagebrush Sea,” as they call the high desert of southern Idaho.  Formed during volcanic eruptions over 15,000 years ago, the monument was signed into order by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. In 1969, Apollo 14 astronauts came to train for their moonwalk by hiking around Craters.

Craters of the Moon offers eight hikes from short strolls to an 8-mile trek. It also offers a unique snowshoeing option in the winter. The Monument is open year-round and its Visitor Center is open daily.

For more information about Craters of the Moon, go to the National Parks Service page at www.nps.gov/crmo or call (208) 527-1300.

Sawtooth Valley           

The Sawtooth Valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful mountain valleys on the planet.  “Just over the hill,” as most locals say, from the Wood River Valley, the Sawtooth Valley is another short drive that is full of hiking, fishing, mountain biking and water-related fun.

After crossing Galena Summit—and stopping to take a photo at the Scenic Overlook—the Sawtooth Valley is sprinkled with a series of high mountain lakes. Redfish Lake is the most famous of the drive-to lakes and is named after the once prolific salmon that return some 900 miles from the sea to spawn each year.

The Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, located right along Scenic Highway 75, is a great place to see salmon and steelhead.  Endless hiking options can be found along both sides of the highway, especially if you head into the Sawtooth Mountains.

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