My Favorite Hikes in Idaho

Heyyyyyy youuuuu guyyyyyssssss (said like Sloth from the Goonies obviously).

Ah what a great movie, it’s actually my favorite of all time fun fact. If you haven’t seen it you must stop what you are doing and go watch it because honestly we can’t even be friends if you haven’t.

Okay today’s post is another Idaho adventure planning one for you guys because well it’s my blog and I’ll post whatever I want to… and because it’s basically the only place I’ve been outside of my bedroom since March.

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I’m one of those people who both loves and loathes hiking. I like the idea of it, I like when I’m done and can say woah I did that but the whole middle of actually doing it is quite hard for me. I love using AllTrails because I can get a better idea of all the levels of hikers using the different trails I research. Plus it’s great that nearly every time the map takes you right to the trail heads. I actually may like researching hikes on AllTrails more than I like the hiking… kidding, but not really.  I promise my reviews are always brutally honest so without further ado let me present some of my favorite hikes in the Boise/McCall area…

Cervidae Peak: Boise, Idaho

4.5 Miles Out/Back

“Alex asked “have you come up with your AllTrails review yet?

And I said “Yes, they say there are rattlesnakes on the trial. At first you’re scared but eventually you start hoping one comes along and puts you out of your misery.”

Just kidding. Kind of.”

Woof. This b#$%@. This is the hardest hike I’ve done in Boise and maybe one of the toughest I’ve done ever. You gain a little less than 2,000 feet of elevation and follow a ridge up and down a pretty narrow path overlooking Lucky Peak Reservoir and multiple other mountains in the distance. Every single step is more gorgeous than the last and no matter what direction you look there is a beautiful view that makes it hard to believe the trail head is less than 20 miles from downtown Boise. It is incredibly steep and much of it is loose gravel which makes for a tough hike up but what makes it truly one of the hardest I’ve done is going back down. I highly recommend trekking poles for balance and to maintain footing. There is literally NO shade so if you’re going in the summer go early and bring lots of water! I wouldn’t do this hike if it was more than 80 degrees out because you truly are exposed. It does get windy up there though so bring an extra layer! We did it on a week day so I don’t know how busy it gets on the weekends but the parking lot is not very big so keep that in mind.

It was the first hike in a long time where I finished it and literally couldn’t believe I got to the top, it was incredibly rewarding! I would highly recommend but I would probably go on a few hikes before you do this one to prepare haha

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Adelmann Mine Trail: Boise, Idaho

4.7 Miles Out/Back

“It was 90 degrees and everyone else was boating but we don’t have a boat so we had to go hiking (not my logic).

The crickets and beetles were bigger than my hands which swelled up so bad I couldn’t get my rings off for hours. 

Absolutely no shade so if fine Irish skin is involved, beware! 

Would only recommend if you are promised ice cream after.”

I started with the hard but now we move onto a more moderate option for hiking in the Boise area. This hike is in the same Lucky Peak Reservoir area about 20 miles from downtown but it’s trail head is very deceiving. It looks like a private driveway with a big gate and everything but that’s the parking lot. Maybe only 5 spaces so not many people on the trail at any given time which is nice. There isn’t much shade so I wouldn’t go on a 90 degree day like we did nor would I go past 10/11 am on a summer day but we are dumb. The first mile isn’t too steep but it definitely starts getting steep after that. This hike has 1,4000 feet of elevation gain so I’d put it on the harder side of moderate. I will admit I didn’t make it all the way to the mine because I was overheating but it did look really cool over that way and starts to be more of a tree-lined forest the closer you get. The views are pretty spectacular but not nearly as beautiful as Cervidae Peak if I’m being honest.

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Table Rock Trail: Boise, Idaho

3.7 Miles Out/Back

“I don’t really like this one.” 

Table Rock Trail is okay. I’m keeping it on the list because it’s the only one that’s truly not far from downtown Boise and I think it’s the most accessible for different levels of hikers that could be visiting. The reason I don’t love it is I think it’s super crowded, no shade but also not enough views to feel worth it. It takes a little over an hour to get to the top and is still a moderately steep trail but it isn’t terribly hard with less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you want to hike in Boise to say you did, do this one. If you’ve got a car and time- do one of the first two I mentioned.

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Box Lake Trail: McCall, Idaho

7.1 Miles Out/Back

“At one point I thought I was having a heart attack and then I found out I had only hiked a single mile.”

Once again starting with the hardest one I’ve done in the McCall area of Idaho but man was Box Lake beautiful. At 2,247 feet of elevation gain this beast is not an easy hike by any means. It’s actually listed as “hard” on AllTrails which you know means they aren’t lying. I swear some people are out here reviewing hikes like “17 miles, 90 degrees of steepness and no shade- easy 20 minute hike that I do every morning while carrying my 3 children and cooking a lasagna.” But I digress…

Box Lake is a tough first couple of miles of steep and then it flattens out a bit into this gorgeous meadow that makes you want to Julie Andrews on through it. Tons of wild flowers and beautiful mountain peaks to view along the way but once you see Box Lake itself the whole hike is worth it. We went last July and there wasn’t any snow but I do know they got a shit ton of snow this season so I’ve read the meadow is a big snowfield currently. Bring lots of water and a few snacks, we wish we would have brought a picnic lunch to have at the top so next time that’s definitely our plan. Trekking poles wouldn’t hurt but I didn’t personally use them so I don’t think you’d need them. The road up to the trail head is quite bendy and filled with pot holes, my little Civic would have been murdered so just keep that in mind when you go. I absolutely recommend this hike, it’s hard but it is beyond worth it when you get to the top.

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Louie Lake Trail: McCall, Idaho

2.6 Miles Out/Back

“Louie, Louie, oh no, you take me where you gotta go, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, baby”

Ah Louie Lake, such a fun little hike. This one is definitely used for lots of different activities like fishing and camping because you can drive up part of it to cut some of the hike off of if you’re carrying a bunch of stuff but we started at the first trail head each time we’ve done it. It’s not a very difficult hike at 813 feet of elevation gain though there are some parts more steep than others. It’s a wide trail in most places so it’s good for a larger group with mixed levels of ability. Once you get up to the lake it’s the most gorgeous clear blue water you’ve ever seen. We’ve done the hike in the dead of summer and in October when the snow started to fall and both were absolutely beautiful. If you want to do a shorter hike and are visiting the McCall area I would give this a 10/10 every single time. It’s one of my favorites of anywhere I’ve been!

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I plan on updating this post as I complete more hikes in Idaho but I truly hope you add a few of these should your travels take you to the Boise/McCall area.

Hiking has been such a difficult, rewarding, and most importantly fun hobby for me to get into over the last few years. Especially now when we all could use a little getting out of the house safely it’s been amazing for me to be able to hop on the trails and forget about how hard these last few months have been.

I’m also in the market for new hiking boots because I don’t love mine, not enough ankle support for these gams of mine so if you have any suggestions let me know in the comments!

Happy Trails, Friends!

Love, Kari

 

Travel Guide: Tulum, Mexico

I‘m going to start out by saying like all good stand-by travel trips this one began with an entirely different plan.

I had never been to Mexico. I had plenty of friends who had vacationed in Cancun and at all-inclusive resorts all over the country but for whatever reason it was never a big destination goal for me. Luckily a friend of mine had just gone to Tulum and shared photos of beautiful beaches, fresh, creative food and a kind of hippie-vibe that stuck with me. So when our plan for Germany fell apart, Tulum became the focus and off we went.

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Lodging: The hotel zone in Tulum is widely considered the beach area that goes for a couple of miles. Here you’ll find beachfront cabanas, private pools, balconies overlooking the ocean and some of the coolest architecture I have seen in this kind of area. Many of these hotels seemed to be more on the expensive side but from what I can tell are absolutely worth the price. I could honestly spend all day looking at photos from Azulik & Papaya Playa Project‘s Instagram accounts, seriously give them a look!

Another area of boutique style hotels has popped up between the Tulum Pueblo and the Beach which is where we ended up finding Naay Boutique Hotel. Naay was a small hotel with plenty of charm and a rooftop pool area that could not be beat. Free parking, bike rentals and a really clean, comfortable room. The real winner of this hotel was the breakfast included. Every morning the nicest staff ever served freshly squeezed juice, assorted muffins, a fruit plate and so many main course options. I still dream about this breakfast to quite frankly.

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Day 1: 

We arrived just before dinner so we headed over to Tulum Pueblo to check out the “downtown.” Lined with souvenir shops this was definitely the place to get your more inexpensive gifts. We stopped for food at a little taco shop but let me tell you the entire block of restaurants smelled incredible. We found ourselves on a little post-dinner pub crawl on Calle Centauro S. Between restaurant/bars like Pasito Tun Tun & La Malquerida we had the best time swinging life away- no really, there were swings instead of bar stools- and drinking a few too many tequila shots because Mexico, am I right??

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Day 2: 

After breakfast at our hotel we drove out to the Tulum ruins. Tulum is the only Mayan city that was built on the coast and these ancient ruins are only minutes from the center of town. The ruins are scattered over quite a large area and really well labeled if you’re a nerd like me wanting to learn what they once were. Like most tourist traps they are  visited by thousands of people every day (think tour bus central) so we were glad we went early before the tours really started to get going. The views overlooking the ocean are breathtaking and with these ruins being so easily bikeable from anywhere in town I’d highly recommend stopping by to see them.

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After trekking around the ruins we made our way down the hotel zone to find a spot to set up for a beach day. I had read that a lot of the hotels allowed you to sit by their cabanas for free so long as you were buying food/drink but the one in particular we had heard good reviews of was La Zebra Hotel. We found a bed, made friends with the bartender and ate some of the most incredible fish tacos I’ve ever had in my life!

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After La Zebra we headed over to Coco Tulum because I had been heavily influenced by all of the photos I’d seen on Instagram while doing research- we decided to stay for a drink but honestly it was pretty overrated. The music was unbearable and the vibe was just a little tacky while also being expensive.

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For dinner we went back to Tulum Pueblo and hit up an Argentinian restaurant called Estancia Jujena. The restaurant’s ambiance was rustic chic, with reclaimed wood being the focus and candles lit everywhere. The menu was large but if you go and don’t get as many empanadas as possible I’ll be disappointed in you. After dinner we headed over to Batey Mojito Bar which may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. The fresh sugar cane made for some of the most incredible mojitos. There was an awesome live band and the servers were all really nice and very on top of their game! It was cash only so keep that in mind when you go.

Day 3:

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After yet another excellent rooftop breakfast we hit the road for the ancient Mayan city of Coba to explore some more ruins.  Located about an hour from Tulum the ruins of Coba are home to one of the only Mayan pyramids that you can still climb to the top of. There is a fee to enter the ruins but once you arrive you can rent bikes for $2 and explore the miles of jungle roads around the site. It honestly felt like being in an Indiana Jones movie. We got there early and headed straight to the pyramid so we could climb it a little before the crowds started to arrive. While it is only 120 steps to the top, these steep and damp steps are no joke. All in all Coba was a must see, especially first thing in the morning before the crowds become overwhelming!

One of the most magical parts of Tulum are the countless cenotes scattered throughout the area. It seems like every mile you drive has another sign advertising these beautiful sinkholes. Newbies to the cenote hunt we opted for one of the more popular ones called the Gran Cenote. Being one of the more touristy ones comes with perks of having clean bathrooms, large changing rooms and plenty of lockers to keep your things in. I’d recommend buying one of those plastic cases for your phone to take underwater photos (we did not, regret that one). There were definitely crowds but you could find a lot of spots that had nobody around. I was fascinated by swimming with all the baby turtles but a whole lot less intrigued by all of the bats chilling when you swim under the cave… in any event visiting cenotes are a must when traveling Tulum! The ones I wish we had also visited were Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Nicte-Ha so when you do go make sure you add those to your list.

Whenever traveling I tend to keep to a budget for most food & beverage purchases with the exception of one special meal at a place I wouldn’t normally go to. On this trip the final meal was at Rosa Negra, a beachy yet upscale Latin American restaurant in the hotel zone. This place was magical! The open restaurant was dimly lit and intimate while also employing an in-house DJ that played everything from lounge music to dance beats. The service from the moment we sat down was world-class and the bartender crafted some of the most unique cocktails.  With a focus on fresh seafood the menu was filled with local produce and showcased their spin on the area’s cuisine perfectly. It was the best meal to finish off a great (yet unexpected) trip to Tulum!

Transportation Tips: Tulum can be found about 1.5 hours west of the Cancun airport. I have heard that there are plenty of buses as well as cars for hire out of Cancun. There are plenty of taxis once you get to Tulum but after talking with friends and figuring that we’d want the freedom to be able to explore the area more we decided to go the rental car route. I would definitely recommend doing your homework before renting a car because in Mexico you are required to buy insurance on top of your own coverage. It is recommended for a whole host of reasons including theft that you go with full-coverage. I’m glad I knew this because I rented a car through Thrifty and added the extra coverage but when I arrived at the airport there was definitely an attempt to strong arm me into purchasing even more coverage. When I showed receipts that I was already covered the gentleman quickly backed down.

I had also heard that people were pulled over for random reasons and “waived on” if they paid the fee of whatever was in their wallet so I made sure to be extra careful about my driving and also what was in my wallet. To be honest, I didn’t have any problems driving or stopping for gas but I was cautious so I would say just be smart about it.

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I know that Tulum has been criticized over the last few years for becoming more and more commercialized but I think they are doing a pretty good job of managing that influx of tourists while maintaining that laid-back beachy vibe it’s known for. Going in I thought I was going to be drawn to the hipster hotel-zone (#basic) and while I did love exploring the unique beach clubs and the restaurant scene- seriously you should see some of these restaurants! I was surprised to find that the Pueblo’s genuine mix of local, expat and tourist vibes was where I actually gravitated towards. Two things I wish we had done but didn’t have enough time for would be a day trip to Chichen Itza and a day trip snorkeling/paddle boarding around the Sian Ka’an. Next time!

I would highly recommend adding Tulum to any travel plans, especially if you’re looking for a relaxed vibe with plenty of added adventures easily available in the area.

Have you been to Tulum? Where did you stay? Would you have done anything differently?

Til next time, friends!

Kari