Waterfalls in Section 4
Napias Creek Falls
Take US Highway 93; merge onto Williams Creek Road #021 (5 miles south of Salmon) and follow for 21.6 miles
Contained in the Salmon National Forest’s Salmon/Cobalt Ranger District, Napias Creek Falls cascades 70 feet and provides roadside views. Reflecting the area’s 1866 gold rush history in its name, Napias Creek Falls means “money” in Shoshoni.
Fountain Creek Falls
Descending in tiers 35 to 50 feet, Fountain Creek tumbles off a canyon wall to form this cataract within the Salmon National Forest. Fountain Creek Falls is accessible to motorists and sits at an elevation of 3,200 feet with a small watershed.
North Fork Falls
Descending in segments as the North Fork Big Wood River divides, North Fork Falls is located within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Although grizzly bears inhabit the Sawtooth Mountains, hikers should not be deterred from visiting this cataract’s 50 to 75 foot plummet. To begin, hike along Trail #115 until reaching Trail #128. Here, turn left (northwest) and follow the moderately difficult Trail #128 for 4 miles. The trail ascends the canyon, providing visitors with views of the falls on the canyon floor.
Lady Face Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Located within the Sawtooth Mountains of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, both Lady Face Falls and Bridal Veil Falls require visitors to take a moderate to difficult day hike. However, both offer unique scenery surrounded by wilderness. To access the 6,680-foot elevation of Lady Face Falls, hike along Stanley Lake Trail for 2.6 miles. Although the first 2 miles is fairly effortless, the ascent steepens as you continue to hike. In another 0.5 mile, locate a sign facing the opposite direction pointing to the 50 to 75 foot plunge of Lady Face Falls. Follow the ridge path 0.1-mile to find a rim view of this waterfall as it descends into a basin below.
For those wishing to take a more difficult hike, continue on Stanley Lake Trail #640 past Lady Face Falls for 1.2 miles. Locate a sign marking Bridal Veil Falls where you will find a distant view of the falls’ 120 to 160 foot tiered cascade from Hanson Lakes.
Found at an elevation of 8,100 feet within the Sawtooth Mountains, Goat Falls is rumored to offer the most breathtaking scenery of all waterfalls within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Goat Falls plummets 250 to 300 feet down a mountainside and broadens near the end of its descent. Distant views of the waterfall are possible along Scenic Route 21, but visitors can gain up-close access by taking a fairly difficult day hike. At the trailhead, hike along this trail for 1 mile and then proceed east (left) at the Alpine Trail #528 junction. Continue another moderately difficult 2.5 miles to reach the falls’ viewing area.
Goat Creek Falls, Fern Falls, and Smith Falls
Cascading in a small series of steps, these waterfalls are located on the western side of the Sawtooth Wilderness area in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. All three cataracts require visitors to take difficult hikes, and a pair of strong hiking boots is recommended at all times.
Goat Creek Falls is situated at an elevation of 5,260 feet and descends 50 feet into the wilderness. To begin, wind along the South Fork Payette River while hiking on South Fork Trail #452 for 1.3 miles. At the junction for Baron Creek Trail #101, remain on Trail #452 and hike 1.2 miles further to Goat Creek. Climb upstream to view this fall’s medium watershed. To reach Fern Falls’ 6,380-foot elevation, visitors must be ready for a difficult hike and an overnight stay in the wilderness. For those with no physical limitations, continue hiking past Goat Creek Falls for 7.5 miles along South Fork Trail #452. With a large watershed, Fern Falls descends 30 feet in a tier from the South Fork Payette River. To reach Smith Falls, proceed along Trail #452 past Fern Falls. In approximately 1 mile, backpackers will reach Elk Lake. Continue another 3.5 miles to access Smith Falls directly past the South Fork Payette River trail crossing. At this point, visitors are 14.5 miles from the trailhead.
Tohobit Creek Falls, Warbonnet Falls, and Baron Creek Falls
This triplet of waterfalls within the Sawtooth Wilderness of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers outstanding scenery for those visitors wishing to take a difficult hike where camping overnight is recommended. After hiking 1.2 miles, turn left onto Baron Creek Trail #101 and continue 7 miles. Tohobit Creek Falls is the first visible cataract. Maintaining considerable contact with a bedrock surface, Tohobit Creek Falls descends into the Baron Creek Valley sculpted during the Ice Age. Look across the canyon from the trail to view this waterfall.
To reach the 7,120 foot elevation of Warbonnet Falls, continue hiking along Baron Creek Trail #101 1 mile past Tohobit Creek Falls. Gaze cross-canyon from the trail to view an unnamed stream form Warbonnet Falls as it plummets into a valley below.
Baron Creek Falls may offer the best scenery of all three cataracts in this area. At an elevation of 7,500 feet, Baron Creek tumbles 50 feet in multiple threads across glacial rock fragments. Taking Baron Creek Trail #101, hike 1 mile past Warbonnet Falls to reach a viewing area for this waterfall. At this point, backpackers are approximately 10.2 miles from the trailhead, and an overnight stay is highly suggested near this cataract or further up the trail near Baron Lakes.
Dagger Falls, Velvet Falls, Tappen Falls, Veil Falls, and Forge Creek Falls
This set of cataracts is designed for water enthusiasts and is recommended only for experienced kayakers and rafters or visitors on a guided whitewater trip. Found along the Middle Fork Salmon River, also dubbed “The River of No Return,” these falls possess Class III V rapids. For those ready for adventure, however, the river and various falls provide visitors with awe-inspiring scenery.
Dagger Falls is situated on Boundary Creek at an elevation of 5,800 feet. With several cascades, Dagger Falls also includes a fish ladder built to assist migrating salmon. Velvet Falls tumbles downstream five and one-half miles from Dagger Falls. The deceptively large cataract spans most of the Middle Fork Salmon River and is most easily accessed by raft. However, it is rumored that Velvet Falls can be located on land by hiking along a rough trail. Tappen Falls waits for river enthusiasts nearly 50 miles downstream of Velvet Falls. Located in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, Tappen Falls is characterized by a string of four Class III rapids that tosses visitors along the river for approximately 1 mile. Continuing further into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, locate Veil Falls near the 80-mile mark of raft trips beginning at Dagger Falls. After running Veil Rapids, park your boat on the shoreline and hike to Veil Falls. This cataract, running along Waterfall Creek at the union of two canyons, tumbles nearly 1,000 feet. Forge Creek Falls occurs further downstream, but topographic maps indicate that this cataract is inaccessible.
Salmon Falls and Mallard Creek Falls
Experienced water enthusiasts will ride past massive boulders on white-capped waves before reaching Salmon Falls on the North Fork Salmon River. Novice boaters are urged to avoid this cataract as the waterfall’s rapids are rated Class V on the international six-point rating scale. After reaching Corn Creek Camp, begin rafting and reach Salmon Falls in 1.9 miles. Mallard Creek Falls also lies within the Salmon National Forest. However, topographic maps illustrate that this cataract is unreachable.
The following Idaho waterfalls are also located in this section with limited directions/access available:
Upper Goat Greek Falls and Scenic Creek Falls
Trail Creek Falls and Boulder Falls
Devlin Falls offers adventurous visitors a glimpse of 1860’s gold rush history. Located along Napais Creek in Lemhi County, Devlin Falls is found near the historic townsite of Leesburg (now a small mining outpost) that was once home to 7,000 hopeful gold seekers. Access to Devlin Falls beyond this point is uncertain, but four-wheel drive is strongly recommended in the area.
East Pass Creek Falls