Wilderness Journeys

Hidden Lake to Conant Basin

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Hidden Lake is located within Coyote Meadows which is found between Ashton and Tetonia Idaho. There are several trails located within this trailhead and they all lead to some pretty amazing views. A person could spend weeks at Coyote Meadows and see a new view each time. We frequent this area quite often. We have camped at the trailhead before which is a big turnaround that has several camp spots with fire pits and tie racks. There is even a small corral located on site and there is also a bathroom. There is a limit to 3 day camping at the trailhead. We have also done some pack trips into this area. This ride that we did though was only a day ride for us. The Hidden Lake to Conant Basin trail is about a 15 mile loop that can be done in either direction. We prefer to go to the lake first to eat lunch. The lake can be a popular spot so you often end up sharing it with other folks. It is also a popular fishing spot, so if that is your thing bring your fishing pole. Besides seeing a beautiful lake on this view you also get the pleasure of getting up high and reaching an elevation of about 8,100 feet with some spectacular views.

Finding Coyote Meadows 

From Idaho Falls, ID:  Follow US 20 for about 30 miles to exit 339 toward ID-33 E/Driggs/Jackson. Continue on Idaho 33 towards Driggs for 31 miles. You will see a sign pointing to Idaho 32 that heads towards Ashton, turn left on this road. You will drive on this road for approximately 12 miles. Then turn right onto the road marked N 4700 E. Drive

for one mile on this road  with the Tetons in view and then turn right onto 700 North.

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 700 N turns into a gravel road.  You will travel on 700 N for about three miles and  you will cross a cattle guard and come to a sign that says you are entering the Targhee National Forest. You will then turn right onto Forest Road 265 and follow this all the way to the end where you will see the big turn around called Coyote Meadows. You will be on 265 for about 8 miles. 

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Hidden Lake to Conant Basin Trail Description

Once you are saddled and ready to go head towards the trailhead sign for Coyote Meadows.

Just in case you didn’t see it as you drove in it is to the right of the bathroom. The trail is mostly a hard dirt packed trail. With our horses being barefoot they are able to do this trail without putting boots on. The trail starts in the forest but brings you out into a meadow for a short bit and at .12 miles you will see a sign for Bitch Creek. Continue straight on the trail. There are plenty of opportunities for your horses to get drinks on this trip including the first one as you cross Bitch Creek. From here Hidden Lake is 4.1 miles. Some people just make a ride out of going to the lake and back which we have done before. However,  the loop around into Conant Basin is definitely worth it if you have the time. When you are about a third of the way into the trail you will come to an intersection. This is where we will be starting our loop. We headed to the left first so we can reach Hidden Lake and then we will be coming back on the trail to the right as we finish our loop. Hidden Lake is 4.1 miles from here.

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The trail continues to meander through the forest all the way to the lake. At 2.4 miles you will come to a big mud hole that you have to cross. It seems like this mud hole is always here no matter how dry it gets. Gracie stops to get a drink here.

Shortly after this mud hole you will come to a sign that says you are in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness-Caribou/Targhee National Forest sign.

At 4 miles you are nearly to the lake and have gained some elevation. The view opens up a bit to your right and if you pull of the trail you can get a good lookout. We have also stopped here to get some shots with the Olympus Tough Camera.

Shortly after this you will begin to catch your first glimpse of Hidden Lake through the trees. It is a pretty blueish green color. Here is will begin your decent as the trail starts to switch back down into the lake. Hidden Lake is a good spot to stop for lunch. The calm and serenity of the lake is amazing. Like we mentioned at the beginning the lake is often a popular spot. We spent our lunch watching a couple of guys fish off the back of their horses and another couple having lunch with their dogs.

Hidden Lake can also be a fun spot to go for a swim on a nice warm day.

Make sure you bring lots of bug spray both for yourself and the horses, because the bugs can be quite grueling at all times of the year.

When you are finished with lunch head back up to the trail and continue to the right around the lake. The trail will continue through some thick forest. Make sure you have your bear spray, this is bear country and we have seen some black bears on this trail before. At 4.8 miles the trail will split and go through a camping spot. We stayed on the trail that goes to the left and goes around the camp. In about two miles from here the trail will open up to a grassy meadow with footbridges that will take you over some boggy areas.

At 6.4 miles you will come to another split in the trail. This time there is a sign on the trail that goes to the left, but we are going to head up the trail to the right to continue our loop. Shortly after getting on this trail you will come to a little pond on your left. We saw a few ducks swimming in it. There is also a camp spot by this pond with a bear box. Perfect place to camp with horses. After this camp spot the trail started to get a little muddy.

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As you continue on you will be doing some switchbacks up the mountain and will gain a pretty view of some mountains to you right you will also be getting a pretty view behind you. There is still some climb after this as the trail continues to switch back up an open hillside. At 7.6 miles you will finish your climb up to the top where you get a pretty overlook. The higher elevation mountains are still filled with snow, which adds to the beauty of this scenic overlook. This is a perfect spot to stop, let your horses catch their breath while you get some of those pretty pictures.

The trail will continue on for a little while and at about 8 miles you will come to a junction in the trail. At this junction you will be just coming off the Conant Basin Trail and there will be a sign here telling you which direction to go. We are going to head to the right and the sign states that it is about 5.4 miles back to Coyote Meadows from this point. In about a mile you will be climbing through some Aspen trees with an amazing view to your left. Some time after this point the trail will start to descend through the forest. As you get down towards the end of your decent you will be coming off of a y-intersection. Continue straight the other trail will lead you back into Hidden Corral. Shortly after this point you will be completing your loop and coming to the sign you saw earlier in your trek that led you up to the lake. From here you have less than a mile back to the truck.

Trail Map: (Made with the Suunto Ambit 2 Watch)

2 Comments

    1. aimee_03@hotmail.com Author

      We have been fortunate when we have come across bears. The horses just have stared at them just like with any other wildlife we have come across. The bears usually get scared and run off. We just went to a bear class where we learned a whole lot of info that we will be sharing on here soon 🙂

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