Char Falls

Char Falls is more of a stroll than a hike, but if you happen to be hiking in this remote area of the Idaho Cabinets you may as well pay a visit. You’ll find a nice cool spot on the rock slabs amidst the upper falls, and a short scramble brings the not-so-faint-of-heart to the bottom of the 50-foot main waterfall.

Location Cabinet Mountains
Rating 2.6 out of 5
Difficulty Easy (except for the scramble down to the falls)
Distance 1.2 miles
Duration 0:25 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 98 feet
High Point 4,194 feet (Trailhead)
Low Point 4,051 feet (Char Falls)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Logging road
Water Lightning Creek
Status Unprotected
Administration Kaniksu National Forest
Permits None required
Conditions Excellent
Camping There is a primitive campside at the Char Falls overlook
Maps USGS Trestle Peak
Trailhead From Sandpoint take highway 200 east 12 miles to Trestle Creek Road 275 (around milepost 42); turn left onto FR 275 (this is a well-maintained gravel road) and go 16 miles to Lightning Creek Road 419; turn right and follow FR 419 south for .6 miles. There is a large turnout to the left with enough parking for several cars.

Google Directions (48.361944, -116.176254)

Season Best during snowmelt
Squirrel Density Fabulous
Features Waterfall
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 75.1 miles
  • Lewiston 188.8 miles
  • Sandpoint 29.6 miles
  • Seattle 379.3 miles
  • Spokane 101.5 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date July 3, 2017

A nice spot to cool your feetIf you have a high-clearance vehicle you could chop a mile off this already short stroll, because the first half mile follows an old logging road through pine forest to a large turnaround area that’s been used by car-campers in the past. At the far end of the turnaround a double-track leads further into the woods and emerges onto the fall overlook in a couple hundred yards. It also provides access to a few smaller upper falls, an excellent location to while away the day, soak your feet, and listen to the rushing water. Or stay a night at the campsite right at the overlook.

Bottom of fallsOn the south side of the main waterfall a single-track leads precariously along the ridge to a spot where you can actually see the waterfall in its entirety, and then drops very steeply downhill to the base of the waterfall. A bit of rock-hopping gets you to the large rock slabs and pool at the bottom of the fall.

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Turnaround area
Turnaround area
Double-track to falls
Double-track to falls
Char Falls overlook and campsite
Char Falls overlook and campsite
Smaller rapids above the main waterfall
Smaller rapids above the main waterfall
Looking down into waterfall
Looking down into waterfall
Char Falls
Char Falls
Char Falls up close
Char Falls up close
Looking south from waterfall
Looking south from waterfall
Taken from below the falls
Taken from below the falls
Bottom of falls
Bottom of falls
Rapids above falls
Rapids above falls
A nice spot to cool your feet
A nice spot to cool your feet
Upper Char Falls
Upper Char Falls
Trailmap

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