Mesa Falls ID
Access via: From Jackson, take WY Hwy 22 over Teton Pass, onto ID Hwy 33 north through Victor and Driggs. After Tetonia, turn right onto Hwy 32 north to Ashton. From Ashoton , take the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (Hwy 47), continue to the end of the plowed road (12 miles from Ashton). Total 85.7 miles.
Mesa Falls, while some distance from Jackson, is a unique and remote area in the Caribou National Forest, northwest of the Tetons. The trail options include 2 loops and a longer "Upper Falls Spur", following the river and canyon rim, with impressive overlooks and a close up of Mesa Falls.
“ Wildlife such as bald eagles, ravens, osprey, moose, ermine and porcupine are occasionally seen along the trails. The trails provide excellent views of the Henrys Fork Canyon, and Upper and Lower Mesa Falls. The Mesa Falls are the only major undisturbed waterfalls in the Columbia River system and as such maintain a natural look and feel. At 110 feet and 65 feet, respectively, Upper and Lower Mesa Falls offer equally spectacular views in a beautiful forest setting “ (Source: Idaho Parks & Recreation - http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov)
This trail description covers the Upper Falls Spur: Begin by skiing up the snowmobile packed road for 0.4 mile to the trailhead. The trailhead is on the left side of the road, and is simply marked with the standard NFS trail marker and blue diamond directional marker on the tree. The blue trail markers tacked to trees continued along the trail, making it easy to navigate. The trail itself is ski packed trail, and mostly flat with a few small hills.
The trail follows the rim of the canyon and is distant from the main road and snowmobile traffic for 3.3 miles, at which time you reconnect with the road system at the Lower Mesa Falls Overlook. There is an outhouse available here. The ski trail parallels alongside the road (snowmobile trail) for the next 0.3 miles, then breaks away from the road toward the rim of the canyon for the next 0.4 miles, then reconnects with the access road that leads down to Mesa Falls. It is a nice downhill run on the snowmobile groomed road to the facilities at Mesa Falls. The stairs that lead down to the overlook at the falls can be very icy and hazardous. Use extreme caution!
We returned via the same route, but you can also ski on the snowmobile trail to cut off some distance, and make it somewhat of a loop. Outhouses are available in the main parking area back at the start.
Idaho $7.50 Winter Park N’ Ski 3 Day Temporary Permit is required for each vehicle, and can be purchased online and printed, or purchased in Island Park, or Harriman State park. Annual passes and ID state resident passes are also available.
For snowshoeing, No on groomed trails, yes off-trail. For grooming report call Ashton Ranger Station (208) 652-7442
The area has a number of picturesque summer hikes, worthy of exploration, including this trail.