Elk Creek Falls Trailhead and Picnic Area

A rainbow graces the majestic Elk Creek Falls

Just 50 miles east of Moscow, Idaho, visitors will find The Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, home to the Elk Creek Falls National Recreation Trail, possessing the tallest waterfall in the state of Idaho. Three separate waterfalls totaling over 140 feet carve a beautiful canyon filled with mesmerizing columnar basaltic formations…with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, pedestal grills and trailhead information all accessible by a developed Forest Service trail… Elk Creek Falls awaits you!

Although there are no camping facilities at the Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, developed Forest Service camping can be found close by at Elk Creek Campground, near Elk River, ID (fees apply and reservations of six of the sites can be made by visiting Elk Creek on Recreation.gov.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Site is accessible during daylight hours only.
Fees: No Fee.
Open Season: May
Closest Towns: Elk River, Idaho is just 2 miles away.
Water: no drinking water is provided
Restroom: 1 accessible vault toilet
Operated By: US Forest Service
Information Center: Palouse Ranger District, 208-875-1131

General Information


From Moscow, Idaho, travel east on Hwy. 8, passing through Troy, Deary and Bovill.  Approximately 11 miles past the town of Bovill will be signs for Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area.  Turn right on FS Road 1452 (gravel road), in a couple of miles road leads to the recreation area parking lot.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Trail 740: The Elk Creek Falls National Recreation Trail; approx. 1 mile; 30 minutes
Begins at junction of trails 740A and 742, and ends at the parking area. This historic wagon road provides access to old settlements along the Clearwater River. Trail 740 connects with trails accessing the 3 falls comprising Elk Creek Falls. Rated easy with gentle elevation changes.

General Info:


Restrooms and picnic facilities are accessible.  Portions of trail system are accessible to those with mobility impairments.

General Notes


Think safety:  The trail accessing the Lower Falls is relatively steep.  Be sure to take adequate water and rest periodically on the benches provided for you along the trail.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Viewing Scenery

What will I see?
• The tallest waterfall in Northern Idaho
• Amazing rainbows created by the mist of cascading falls
• Historic roads travelled by early pioneers
• Bulging, raging Elk Creek fueled by spring snow melt
• Interpretive panels situated along the trail with information about the area.

Interpretive Areas

Nature as a classroom – for young and old!
Elk Creek Falls provides opportunities to learn about countless aspects of natural processes and human interaction with – and impact on – them. Whether you are interested in geology, forestry or human settlement – or just want to take a beautiful stroll through the woods of Northern Idaho, this hike is for you!

Geologic and Recent History
The basaltic rock you encounter at the falls was deposited here approximately 10-30 million years ago. Countless times, lava flow and water worked together to create the beautiful display of hexagonal rock that provides the backdrop for Elk Creek Falls.
Settlers homesteaded this country between 1870-1910, and the trail you travel on now was the main artery connecting these hardy families from Elk River to Dent, ID and beyond. Horse-drawn wagons exchanged goods and services, provided opportunity for companionship and enabled families to survive in this challenging environment.


3 picnic sites are located next to the trailhead.

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

During the winter months a nordic ski trail is maintained which leads to the trailhead.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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