Lower Mesa Falls
Island Park, Idaho
Distance (Roundtrip): .5 Miles
Elevation Loss: 500'
Highest Point: 5,900'
Category: Day Hike
At Lower Mesa Falls, the North Fork of the Snake River cascades 65 feet down a narrow chute with basalt cliffs on both sides. Although the falls are certainly impressive from the scenic overlook, the best way to experience them is by scrambling down the rock slide west of the parking area to the river.
Although the waterfall is only .25 miles (.5 miles roundtrip) and 500 vertical feet from the parking area, the footing is a bit treacherous across most of the route. Slow down and evaluate the stability of each rock before committing your weight to it.
From Highway 20 in Ashton, Idaho turn east onto Highway 47 (also known as Mesa Falls Scenic Byway). Highway 47 is really the only major road going east from Ashton, so it's not hard to find.
44 04' 16.9" N
111 27' 21.5" W
Highway 48 heads generally east from Ashton past rolling farmland, then takes an abrupt turn to bear northeasterly. The highway drops down into the Warm River canyon, following the river for about a mile before climbing up the north side. The Lower Mesa Falls parking area is 14.8 miles from Ashton. Several prominent signs direct visitors into the parking area.
44 10' 31.7" N
111 18' 47.2" W
From the parking area, hop over the railing and head straight down the canyon toward Lower Mesa Falls. Mind your footing as you scramble across the rock slide. Much of the rock in the area is precariously perched among the other rocks, and hardly needs extra encouragement to begin tumbling downhill. When travelling with a group, spread out to minimize the risk from a dislodged boulder.
Another point worth mentioning is that the basalt becomes incredibly slippery when wet. If possible avoid wet weather when hiking to the falls.
44 10' 29.9" N
111 19' 06.3" W