Packsaddle Lake Hike

Packsaddle Lake Hike

posted in: Hiking, Water | 16

I’m all for a great hike. Especially hikes that I don’t have to drive super far to get to, or hikes that aren’t super strenuous, either. The hike up to Packsaddle Lake is exactly that. It’s a relatively short distance from Rexburg, it’s not too strenuous (you drive up most of the trail), and it has an exceptional view. It’s hard to believe that more people haven’t heard of it. If you’re short on time, but still want to get outside, this is definitely one of those hikes that you have to do. We left Rexburg around 12:15 and got back around 4:30. And we definitely weren’t rushing ourselves at all. We took our time, hiked all the way around the lake, played on the rope swing, etc.

We went this last weekend (in June), and had no problems with the terrain at all. I’ve done this hike previously in October or November, and the roads get pretty muddy with lots of snow. If you have a truck or SUV with 4-wheel drive, I’d recommend it. But we went out in my Honda Accord and were able to make it fine as well. Just take the roads slow and you’ll be fine.

To get here, head North on Highway 20 as if you’re heading to St. Anthony. Then, take exit 339 towards Driggs. From exit 339, watch your car odometer and travel exactly 25.3 miles until you see this “Hoopes, Ehco Ranch” sign. Turn right here.



After this turn off, you’ll drive straight on a dirt road for 4.2 miles until you eventually come to the following fork in the road. Take the road to the left.



After driving another 1.7 miles, you’ll come to an area that runs into an old wooden corral, and the road heads off to the left. There’s a sign that says “Packsaddle Lake Rd.” At this point, turn right. Honestly, you can make the hike as long or as short as you want. If you’re looking for a longer hike, I’d park at the fence here and begin walking up.



Continue driving straight, and the road will wind through beautiful meadows, and tons of trees.



The Sound of Music, anybody?



After turning onto Packsaddle Lake Rd., 1.8 miles down the road, you’ll run into one last fork in the road. Take the left fork. At this point, unless you’re driving a truck or SUV (we were in a small passenger car), I’d recommend pulling off to the side of the road and parking. The road up ahead is pretty steep, and there are lots of ruts in the road that I wouldn’t chance in a smaller vehicle.



The hike from here isn’t very far to the top. No more than half a mile to a mile. Keep your eyes open for flowers and other scenery.



As you reach the top of the hill, look behind you to see the Tetons off in the distance. Unfortunately, our hike was cloudy, so we weren’t able to see much. But on a bright, sunny day, you have a straight shot of the mountains with a great view of the valley below.



Continue a little bit farther up to the top of the hill, and off to your left, you’ll notice another trail decending steeply. As you begin the descent, you can see a small portion of the lake poking out.



Careful as you hike down, as the trail is very steep. But in no more than a quarter to half a mile, you’ll be at the base of the lake.





Continue a bit farther down the trail, and you’ll find a rope swing.




I know this isn’t creepy at all, but how cute is this little girl? She was sitting quietly watching her family swing on the rope swing. Aren’t those pants killer?





The water was cold (it’s June), but give it another month or so, and the water will be super refreshing after the hike down.





We decided to hike around the entire perimeter of the lake. In some places, there was a pretty defined trail. In others, the trail seemed to disappear completely, so we kind of blazed our own. All in all, it’s a great hike, and I highly recommend it.

16 Responses

  1. This was an awesome hike! We were easily able to drive to the top in our SUV, but I definitely wouldn’t try it in a car. The hike was steep, but the trail is almost 100% shaded, so you can rest anytime if needed. This is suitable for even younger kids. My kids want to go back and spend the night next to the lake. There are 2 fire pits that other campers have made. Thanks for the great easy to follow directions!

  2. Josie Sias

    Can you swim in this lake? Is it okay to bring dogs here? just looking for places a little more like home to hang out at this summer.

    • When we went, it was a little too cold to swim. However, I have had many friends who have gone to swim there. Especially seeing how there is a rope swing. I’m sure nobody would mind if you took your dog. However, please be courteous and clean up after them.

  3. We tried to go up in March and our 4-Wheel Drive CR-V got stuck in the snow, the guys who lives up here says the snow is too deep to drive up until June. Please don’t try it until June????

    • While I believe March is definitely too early, you might be able to make it in April or May. For sure, June.

  4. Any idea on how far the hike was?

    • matheson

      This depends on how far you’re able to drive up the trail. If you park the the horse corral at the very beginning, it will be a very lengthy hike. If you’re able to make it all the way up to the top (usually because you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle), the hike is very short.

  5. Love your site! We moved to the area not long ago and are having fun finding places to hike. Can’t wait to try this.

  6. It is kind of a lengthy hike if you park at the very first fence. Mini vans even made it further up. There is a fork on the way up dont take the right side.

    • Correct. At the fork, take the left trail heading up the mountain. Depending on weather, most cars should be able to make it up a reasonable distance.

  7. Can you camp there?

    • Many times that we’ve gone, there have been a few people camping both up above overlooking the tetons and down right next to the lake. As far as I know, there are no camping restrictions here.

  8. A guy that lives out there told me to post that you won’t be able to get out there until June at the earliest with the amount of snow that is up there. He pulled us out when we tried to get there last week.

    • Agreed,

      Many of the hikes in Southeastern Idaho are difficult to access until June at the earliest. Always know your limits, and do not try to go farther than your vehicle is reasonably capable of.

  9. How’s the fishing?

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