Just a short distance outside of Rexburg (roughly 25 minutes), nearby Heise Hot Springs or Kelly Canyon, is the Cress Creek Nature Trail. It’s a relatively simple “hike” (if you can even call it that). It’s very developed, has a lot of foot traffic, and even has restrooms at the trailhead, providing you can handle the smell.
The trailhead has a decently-sized parking lot, but can become fairly crowded on the weekends and late afternoons.
The majority of the trail at the beginning is paved, and even wheelchair and stroller accessible. At least for the first portion of the hike. The path is wide enough that a number of people can easily walk side-by-side. The incline is gradual and very manageable with a number of switchbacks. For those wishing to go a bit quicker, there are stairs that bypass the switchbacks.
Shade is few and far between, so be sure to take care and bring enough water.
At various points in the trail, you’ll find a number of picnic tables and benches to sit and rest (though you probably won’t need to, as the grade is perfectly manageable).
A short distance into the hike, you’ll come to the end of the paved trail. Shortly after, you’ll encounter a small creek that is fed by a natural spring. The spring is decently warm, thus allowing the water cress to grow even in the winter (hence the name of the creek).
From this point, the trail makes a large loop. If you continue off to the left, you’ll continue following the stream through a slightly more wooded area.
At various point in the trail, you’ll run into several “info stations” that help provide hikers with tidbits of facts regarding the wildflowers, wildlife, and trees. As you loop around, you’ll be brought to the edge of the bluff, which provides an absolutely stunning view of the valley and the river.
Continue down the trail, and eventually you’ll start the descent down to the parking lot once again. All told, the hike is very easy and can be done in an hour to an hour and a half. For being so local, it provides excellent views of the surround valley. I’ve done this trail a number of times, and have always seen deer and other wildlife as well.
Though this is a great hike, if you’re looking for a more difficult trail that loops in and out of meadows and provides lots of trees, this one might not be the one for you.
1. From the BYU-I center, follow that road (Yellowstone Highways, parallel to the freeway) towards Idaho Falls.
2. Take the first left after the traffic light towards Archer (Big Judds)
3. Drive about 15 minutes, then turn left on 10000 South
4. Drive to the very end of the road and turn right
5. About 5 minutes later, you will see a cross where someone died, then immediately after, Cress Creek is on the left.
During the winter, they don’t plow this road. If you plan on doing the hike during the Winter, please take caution and drive carefully.