Chances are that if you live in Idaho Falls you've heard of the hikes to Upper and Lower Palisades Lakes. It takes about an hour to get to the trailhead from Idaho Falls and it's definitely worth the drive. Plus you can always stop at the "Square Ice-Cream" store in Swan Valley, Idaho on your way back home to refresh and recharge yourself after a great hike or camping trip.
My family and I decided we would go hike up Palisades Creek just before the Fourth of July. We'd heard about it for years, but never actually took the time to plan a trip and make the hike.
My wife insisted that I couldn't turn it into a training run, but we negotiated a bit, and decided that instead of leaving our 2 1/2 year old home, I'd carry her on a pack, so I'd still get in some training while the others hiked instead of ran.
We took my wife, her parents, her brother, some nieces, and my three kids (13, 9 and 6). The plan was for most of us to hike the 4 miles to Lower Palisades, then a few of us would go quickly up to Upper Palisades while those who didn't want to continue hiking would relax and wait for us to get back.
The hike to lower Palisades was not difficult and was a lot of fun for the kids. My 6 year old had no difficulty, but I can imagine that some younger kids might need to be carried. There were also areas where the trail was either close to a steep drop off or the Palisades Creek, so we did have to watch them a bit. The trail itself was beautiful and stayed near Palisades Creek, with bridges crossing over it a few times. There were not many other people on the trail early in the morning, but by noon we saw others every five to ten minutes.
Lower Palisades didn't have any great beaches or anything for those who were waiting to hang out at. It was a bit closer to being a swamp than a lake.
My 9 year old son, my brother in law, and I decided to keep going up to Upper Palisades. We hiked quickly and ran off and on when my son could and it took us about 50 minutes to cover the last three miles.
Upper Palisades is definitely worth the 7 mile hike. Me and my son went for a quick dip in the cold, clear water and the views from up there were amazing. There were quite a few bugs on the trail, including some horseflys, so make sure you put on some bug spray before you guy and refresh it every now and then. I didn't get bitten, but my wife and some of my kids got a few bug bites. We gained around 2,000 of elevation in 7 miles, with a good portion of that being in the last 1.5 miles.
My son can't wait to go back for a camping and fishing trip to Upper Palisades. It looks like there are several other trails in the area that go higher up in the mountains in the 9,000-10,000 foot range. There is also an island at Upper Palisades Lake that we would have loved to swim out to if we would have had more time.