If you are looking for cool hikes and places to go in Southern Idaho, there’s a beautiful attraction less than 10 miles from Shoshone Falls called Pillar Falls. These are also located less than 10 miles from the city of Twin Falls.
These falls are not as tall nor majestic as Shoshone Falls but the massive Pillars of stone in between the rapids are a must to see, to walk around, and explore.
Ways to get there:
The best way to get there is on Kayak or Canoe coming directly through the Snake River from the city of Twin Falls, upstream until destination. Upon destination, if you go on the right side of the river, you will find that the water current is less and the massive rock serves as a parking for the kayaks.
But if you are not planning on rowing your way to Pillar Falls and would rather hike down to it, there is a lesser known trail that will take you there.
From Highway 84, go south on 93 to Twin Falls.
Turn left on E 4100 N and continue to go on this road, then turn left on Pole Line Road East. Continue for 2000 feet until you see the entrance of the trail to your left.
After that the road turns private so that’s where it ends for the public. There is a parking space right by the trail that only allows for 3 to 4 vehicles. Be careful of the cliff behind it. There is no guard rail.
When we started hiking down this trail with our small Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, and our children ages 9 and 4, we noticed some parts were very steep.
The dirt trail is sandy, rocky, loose, and slippery. Our 9 year-old son on a distraction slipped and fell on his bottom and his bone hurt for a while. Thankfully no fractures.
Our daughter also fell but not as hard. We had to hold their hands until the trail was more level because some parts were very steep and slippery.
This was on a dry, hot, summer day. We were told that on wet or icy weather, the trail can be closed due to hazardous conditions.
Sometimes, the land owners on either side of the trail decide to close it and make it private property, and at other times they open it to the public.
When we went, it was open to the public and the weather was perfect for such adventure.
The trail is less than a mile but it is a taxing one, especially for the way back. Though it seems less slippery going up than coming down.
The trail goes down zigzagging a small waterfall then goes over an opening to a little more level ground, then climbs a little hill.
Here you will see the most spectacular views of the cliffs on both sides of the canyon and the Perrine Bridge down to the west. It’s a picture beauty spot.
As you continue the trail around the hill, suddenly you’ll have to climb down again on stair case rocks. You go a little slower if hiking with children, but it’s not impossible and they also love the adventure.
It was in these rocks that we saw some cute lizards.
As you continue down the trail, it becomes sandy and some big trees with ample shade make for a cool resting spot. The floor here is all sand and the kids took their shoes off and buried their feet and hands in the sand.
We continued the trail to the right until we saw a massive rock wall. If you want to reach the Pillar Falls, you have to go in the water, around this rock wall until you are up and can cross this part of the river to the rock islands where more massive pillars lay.
When we went end of last July, the water level was still pretty high, and we didn’t dare cross on foot with the children. We looked to see if we could cross over by swimming, but it was too far to try to do it with children and no floating devices.
So, we went west in burrowing trails among the trees and sand, bordering the river. We were looking for a place to spend the day and where we could try some fishing.
That trail ended at another massive pillar rock wall, and another rock overlooking a small bay. The view of Pillar Falls from there was fantastic. We decided to stop at that place and picnic with the children.
Just when settling to sit and rest, my husband’s flip-flop broke. We wondered how he was going to hike back up barefooted.
But he decided to fix his flip-flop redneck style. We had all our fishing gear, so he got some fish line and 2 hooks and with that he was able to make his flip flop last until we hiked back to the car.
Swimming at Pillar Falls
Since we were still curious about the rock pillars and falls themselves, we took turns (so one of us could stay with the children) and swam over to the island.
I swam first against the current and made it. It was exhausting. I had to sit on the rocks once I got there for like 10 minutes as I had gotten dizzy.
Don’t try this unless you are a good swimmer. Other kayakers were looking at me as if I was crazy and would hang around making sure I wouldn’t drown. Next time we will bring a small board just in case, even if tied to the ankle.
I did find out that several people have drowned in the area. It is a place to be very careful. We were first timers and have learned our lesson concerning Idaho rivers.
On the Island
Once on the island with the Pillars, the exploring time was fun.
Several families that got there on kayaks and canoes were having fun. Some were sunbathing, others were climbing rocks and exploring, and some others were fishing some good trout.
Other more adventurous people would pick up their kayaks and climb with them over the rocks and pass the falls and then go back in the water to keep pedaling east. Their destination is to get as close as possible to Shoshone Falls.
We saw whole families do this. It made us want to try it. Hopefully next summer we will…
Swimming back to where my family was, was easier as the current took me there faster.
My husband tries to swim across…
Then my husband tried it. I told him the swim there was not as easy as it looked. He wanted to see the area too and if I had made it, he wanted to swim it too.
His experience was the same as mine, and some kayakers came around to make sure he was OK and that he would make it to the other side.
We were glad that the people there are friendly and keep an eye for each other.
My husband regretted doing that when he was in the middle of the swim. But he kept swimming and soon got to the rocks. He also had to sit for a while on them as he got dizzy from the effort and had to catch his breath.
We learned our lesson. Don’t do it without a board at least. Idaho rivers can be tricky, even if you know how to swim, and life jackets are a must. We were thankful the kids had stayed on the shore with one of us as we took turns.
My husband had a great time exploring but decided not to swim back to us.
The first time had scared him plenty and he had swallowed some of the nasty water. So he came back by bordering the previous rock wall. He said the current almost swept his feet off, and he had to go slowly. But he preferred trying that than swimming across.
Videos of our experience
Here is a video of our swimming experiences and exploring of the Pillars in the island:
Here is another fun video with our experience going down the Trail to Pillar Falls and back up:
Best season to go
For the adventurous in spirit, this is a fun hike. If you go in the fall, when the water level is lower, the crossing will be easier and you might not even get wet while crossing over the rocks.
Try to avoid going the spring as the water levels may be too high and very dangerous, hazardous to say the least.
But if wanting easier access to Pillar Falls, kayaks and canoes are best. Next time we will do that. Please consult with Kayak Rentals at Centennial Park, Twin Falls over the right water level time to go in the river.
Either way, the trail has some sights that were out of this world. You can’t really explain it and the pictures don’t do justice. The experience is still a must and it is the best hike in the Twin Falls area.