“This is a sparsely frequented trail on the northeast end of Island Park that will take your breath away, repeatedly!”
— Jeff Fullmer
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Island Park has the largest population of grizzly bears in the entire state of Idaho. North of this area is a grizzly relocation area where nuisance bears are released after being relocated from other areas. Do not travel this trail alone and do carry bear spray. Groups of 4 or more are ideal. When you are close to the creek (which is most the way) it is hard to hear critters. Chances are it is hard for them to hear you as well. Be safe and aware.
If you do not know how to outfit yourself for running through creeks, this is not a trail for you and you'll want to turn around at the 3.14 mark. A perfect circle, as it were. Merino wool running socks are a must and trail shoes with good traction that drain well. If you venture beyond the 3.14 mile creek crossing, you'll have wet feet. This water comes straight from snowbanks and is frigid. It is a pleasure during the hot summer months but a danger during a cold spell. You'll top out at over 9,000 ft, so expect anything and respect the mountain. Some of the pictures taken in the snow on the trail are in the middle of June.
Most of this trail is runable and you have multiple clean water sources (filtering is still recommended). If you are trying to run this as fast as possible prepare yourself for some amazing views and magical sights that may slow you down.
Traveling from the Idaho side and just passing Henry's Lake in the world famous Island Park, you'll not believe this trail exists in this particular area until you have had the utter pleasure of taking it for a run. This is a perfect singletrack trail in numerous ways as you meander up the canyon through the pine trees and across small bridges.
The total distance of this trail, one-way, is just over 6 miles. The first 3.14 miles are flat with minimal elevation gain and then the bridge-less creek crossing marks the start of the climbing. Having warmed up, it's time to cool down as you forge the creek that is a river in June and turns to a trickle by the end of the summer. Over the next 3 miles, you'll see incredible sights as you climb higher and higher. Early in the summer, you'll cross Targhee Creek multiple times and your shoes will get wet. You run parallel to the creek until the 5.87-mile mark where you cut back to the west and make your final climb until you intersect with the Continental Divide Trail that is marked with a sign. This is the turnaround point or if you have not had enough, a crossroads onto endless trails.
If you want to see Clark Lake it is only another quarter mile to the northeast on the Continental Divide Trail. You'll see a smaller unnamed lake prior to it on your right. Clark is on the left and the epitome of what a high mountain Idaho lake is like. Do yourself a favor and visit Clark Lake.
Flora & Fauna
Pine trees, quaky aspen, sagebrush in the lower sections, willows along the creek and wildflowers of various varieties.
Lots of deer and elk signs. Bear activity can be noticed as well.