Hike Indian Cliffs, Idaho, for Great Views of Lake Chatcolet

Overview of the Trail

The Indian Cliffs is a 3-mile round-trip hike in Northern Idaho, near the town of Plummer. The trail begins on a flat bench above Lake Chatcolet, then climbs a tall, open ridge which offers wonderful views of Lake Chatcolet and the surrounding area. This is a great trail to experience northern Idaho’s wonderful landscapes. The trail is located about one hour from both Couer d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho.

Trail Details

  • Total distance: 3 miles (lollipop)
  • Total ascent: 600 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate (our 3-year-old can hike the entire thing given lots of patience, snacks and encouragement)
  • Other activities: wildlife viewing

This trail is similar in difficulty and length to the Elk Creek Falls Trail.

Getting to the Indian Cliffs Trailhead

From the town of Plummer, Idaho there take Highway 5 east about 5.5 miles. Then turn north (left) into the Heyburn State Park entrance. After entering the Heyburn State Park, follow the road to the left for about 1 mile and you will arrive at the trailhead parking. Note: Heyburn State Park requires a use fee. Fees vary for residents and non-residents. Details are available at Idaho’s parks and recreation website.

The Indian Cliffs Trail

The trail begins on a flat bench with portions of beautiful mature forest. This section of the trail has lots of habitat diversity and is a great place to see wildlife in the mornings and evenings. We saw whitetail deer, forest grouse, and number of different bird species. This section of the trail has a slight uphill grade.

Indian Cliffs, Idaho, trail beginning

As you hike through the mature forest the trail will begin to slowly climb. Then, there will be a steeper climb for about a quarter mile to get you on top of a an open ridge, which is covered grassy meadows and tall pine trees.

From the ridgetop you will experience wonderful views of Chatcolet Lake and the surrounding area. The trail remains relatively flat as it follows the ridgetop, then becomes steeper as it descends to the flat bench on which you began. The trail maintains a slight downhill grade through mature forest until it returns to the trailhead.

Lake Chatcolet, Idaho
View of Lake Chatcolet, Idaho from the Indian Cliffs Trail

Along the way there are informational signs to teach you about the history, flora and fauna of the region. A shorter nature trail bypasses the steeper climbs up and down the ridge and provides a nice educational experience about the forests of northern Idaho.


The Indian Cliffs Trail is a great option for novice hikers, and beautiful vistas offer something for even the more experienced. The trail is just difficult enough to give you some exercise without being overly difficult. While hiking the trail you will experience a variety of landscapes that make northern Idaho so unique.

Konrad Hafen

Konrad is a natural resource scientist who spends much of his free time hunting, fishing, hiking and backpacking on America's public lands.

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