The fun thing about hiking mountain trails this time of year is that you can travel from summer to winter in a few hours.
About this time last year I hiked with friends to Waterfall Canyon above Upper Palisades Lake. We hiked over large stretches of snow in the upper canyon. On the way back we saw a mountain goat and moose and days-old calf.
The popular trails on the west side of the Tetons (some people call the “Idaho side” even though it’s all in Wyoming), allow you to start out on dry summery trails and hike up into the snow.
This is also the case with many of the offerings in the Lost River Range, Lemhi Range and Sawtooth Range of central Idaho. If you stay lower — say below 8,000 or 9,000 feet in elevation — you should generally encounter wet patches, perhaps a few snow patches in the shady areas. Above that elevation, things get snowy and wetter.
I remember once overhearing hikers from Georgia on the trail to Surprise and Amphitheater lakes in Grand Teton National Park being shocked that there was still snow along the trail on July 4. “It’s July 4th and we’re hiking through snow!” one girl exclaimed. “I can’t believe it. They’ll never believe this back home. Take a picture.”
As a general rule the lower elevation ranges, such as the Big Hole Mountains and Snake River Range (north of Heise and east of Swan Valley) are drying out first. There are still snowy sections on summits, in deep shadowy canyons and along north-facing walls. With warm weather and above-freezing temperatures at night, the snow will begin to disappear quickly.
Here are a few trails to hike now while you wait for less snow in the higher country: