Nestled between national forests, Star Valley has many great hiking opportunities perfect for families. For those looking for solitude and plenty of signs of wildlife (beaver dams, prints, bird sightings), here are our recommendations for great hikes that can be easily accessed with any type of vehicle (no four-wheel drive needed).
Packstring Creek Hike (22 miles south of Afton in Bridger Teton National Forest)
About 5 miles south of the Salt River Pass on I-89, a dirt road goes north (a coral is immediately opposite on the south side of the road) and after a few feet it opens to a makeshift parking lot on the left. From the car it’s just a few steps west along the road to the intersection with the Packstring Creek Trail. The beaver activity is quite noticeable; look for signs of chewed trees, beaver dams, and beaver trails at the water’s edge. The trail goes on for miles into the mountains, but we found the first mile or so has a great mix of interesting stream scenery to the left and rocky outcroppings to the right.
Strawberry Creek Trail (turn off I-89 between Afton and Thayne)
Look for the Forest Service sign for “Strawberry Creek” heading north on I-89 past Afton, and follow the paved road all the way to a dirt parking area just over a small bridge. For the hike itself we mainly stuck to the dirt Forest Service road and make excursions along the creek from there. The most memorable part of the hike for us was exploring Strawberry Creek itself and viewing the dramatic mountain scenery all around.
Near Tincup Creek Historical Marker (Caribou National Forest in Idaho)
We’re not sure of the exact location of this hike, but heading west on Idaho 34 from Freedom, Wyoming, you’ll enter the National Forest and look for a small parking lot and large wooden bridge crossing the stream to your left (if you reach the Tincup Creek historical marker, you’ve gone too far). Just over the bridge the stream splits into a maze of smaller currents, and we spent hours crossing back and forth while exploring the banks.
Cottonwood Lake (Bridger Teton National Forest near Afton)
The turn east for Cottonwood Lake is well marked and just south of Afton. The paved road soon turns to dirt, but we found it to be in good condition and definitely passable by two vehicles at once. We didn’t make it all the way to the lake because of snow on the road, but we pulled off at a nice picnic area turn off about 1.5 miles after you enter the National Forest. In addition to the many cottonwood trees all around, expect lots of rocks to climb and streams to explore.