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Upper Palisades Lake, Swan Valley Idaho

Scott Hunter, Upper Palisades Lakehorseback riders- upper palisades lake

Upper Palisades Lake was formed when agiant landslide came down the canyon and dammed the creek. Palisades Canyon is thickly forested with fir, aspen and willow. It is a canon of steep magnificent cliffs. Upper Palisades Lake is in a beautiful valley surrounded by forest and is a great place for camping. As one of the main spawning tributaries for the South Fork of the Snake River. Palisades Creek is teaming with native cutthroat trout even long after the spawn is over. Upper Palisades Lake provides good fishing also. Moose frequent the area as well as elk, deer and mountain goats, there are plenty of bear and mountain lions but it is rare to see them. If you scan the mountain walls you may see mountain goats if you get lucky. I've gotten lucky many times.

Palisades Creek Trail is located about 50 miles southeast of Idaho Falls and about 60 miles west of Jackson Hole WY in Swan Valley Idaho, the 6.2 mile hike to Upper Palisades Lake (elevation 6800 feet) provide some of the best mountain views in the Swan Valley region. Palisades Creek Trail is well maintained and can be used only by hikers, backpackers or horses as it is in the Palisades wilderness study area. If you choose to hike up to Upper Palisades Lake, 2 miles above Lower Palisades Lake you have to leave Palisades Creek trail and turn up Waterfall Canyon and it is just a short distance up Waterfall Canyon.

The trail up to Upper Palisades Lakes is one of the most popular trails in eastern Idaho because the lake offers excellent fishing, gorgeous mountain scenery, good wildlife viewing possibilities, easy hiking and a Forest Service campground at the entrance of the canyon. Many bridges cross the creek and make the route easier for hikers and horseback riders to traverse the canyon. If you wish to avoid the crowds try to go during the week or in spring or fall, it is much more quiet then. It is also a great place for a cross-country ski in the winter but wait until there is good snow coverage as there are many sharp rocks in the trail to cover.

Getting there

From Idaho Falls drive southeast from Swan Valley on U.S. Highway 26 to Irwin. Turn left on the Palisades Creek Road at the sign for Palisades Creek Campground. Follow this road for 1.5 miles. Just before the campground and the bridge that crosses the creek is a parking area. On the other side of the creek to the right is a horse staging area. The new trailhead is at the horse staging area. If you are coming from the Wyoming side, Palisades Creek Road is about 2 miles north of Palisades reservoir dam on the right.

 


A few stories from others

Chicken Springs Canyon and the Upper Palisades Lake Overlook
by Jim Steele

“I went hiking and things didn’t go according to plan” is sometimes a euphemism for “I went hiking and something really bad happened.” My plan Saturday was to hike up to the Upper Palisades Lake in Idaho. When I was stopped by a bridge that was out, I went exploring - and instead discovered the Upper Palisades Lake Overlook.--------------------> more

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