Pillar Falls

Twin Falls, Idaho, USA

About Pillar Falls


Hiking Distance: at least 3 miles round-trip
Suggested Time: at least 2 hours (but allow more time to explore)

Date first visited: 2021-04-02
Date last visited: 2021-04-03

Waterfall Latitude: 42.59889
Waterfall Longitude: -114.43269

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Pillar Falls was unusual in that the waterfall itself wasn’t the primary attraction in the excursion.

Indeed, the waterfalls themselves were nothing more than minor cascades and rapids culminating in a modest 5ft drop over a very wide shelf at the end of the “island” containing the namesake basalt pillars giving the falls its name.

Pillar_Falls_191_04022021 - Pillar Falls
Pillar Falls

Actually, I felt that this was really more of a waterfall lover’s excuse to do a choose-your-own-adventure exploring the eccentric rock formations protruding up from the middle of the Snake River.

Nevertheless, this adventure did encompass a surprise cascade along its trail as well as other rock formations and cliffs that made it unique among the things you can see or do in the Twin Falls area.

As far as experiencing the waterfalls are concerned, kayakers probably have the easiest time viewing the front of Pillar Falls.

However, I learned that I didn’t really need a kayak to witness waterfalls, and I’ll share how I managed to do it in this write-up.

Hiking To The Brink Of Pillar Falls

Pillar_Falls_147_04022021 - A couple of the pillar formations that gave Pillar Falls its name
A couple of the pillar formations that gave Pillar Falls its name

This is the most popular and common way to experience the Pillar Falls.

It begins from a parking area at the corner of Pole Line Rd and Eastland Dr (see directions below).

From there, I then had to hike along residential Pole Line Rd (not the paved bike route on the right) for about 0.3-mile to the actual trailhead for Pillar Falls.

That’s where there were a bunch of no parking signs next to a private road sign as well as some diversion pipes paralleling the brink of a cascade.

Pillar_Falls_015_04022021 - Lots of signs at the actual Pillar Falls Trailhead. This was where I left Pole Line Rd and made the steep and slippery descent into the Snake River Canyon
Lots of signs at the actual Pillar Falls Trailhead. This was where I left Pole Line Rd and made the steep and slippery descent into the Snake River Canyon

At this point, the trail descends steeply into the Snake River Canyon, and this was where it was useful to have at least hiking boots on (though proper use of trekking poles could also help here).

During my visit, I witnessed a pair of women in tennis shoes or running shoes, and they had a really hard time trying not to slip and fall on the loose gravel on the steepest parts of this trail.

The trail descended alongside an attractive cascade with a large diversion pipe next to it.

This would persist for about the next half-mile (losing 300-400ft in elevation in this stretch) before reaching an unsigned trail junction.

Pillar_Falls_058_04022021 - Looking over part of the cascade (that tumbled alongside the Pillar Falls Trail) towards the Perrine Coulee Bridge spanning the Snake River
Looking over part of the cascade (that tumbled alongside the Pillar Falls Trail) towards the Perrine Coulee Bridge spanning the Snake River

Throughout this lengthy descent, I managed to get attractive views back downstream towards the Perrine Coulee Bridge.

Hiking To The Brink Of Pillar Falls – The Left Fork At The Unsigned Junction

Going left at the unsigned junction, the trail made another steep and slippery descent before bottoming out at the base of an attractive segment of the cascade that had been tumbling alongside the Pillar Falls Trail.

Although there were spur trails deviating from the main trail, they mostly went to other sheds or buildings likely having something to do with processing or harnessing the power gained from the cascade.

After the trail would make one switchback to descend into the vegetation in an upstream direction, it would eventually bottom out among trees and interesting cliff formations.

Pillar_Falls_096_04022021 - Looking up at an attractive waterfall, which was the lowermost tier of that cascade that had been tumbling alongside most of the Pillar Falls Trail
Looking up at an attractive waterfall, which was the lowermost tier of that cascade that had been tumbling alongside most of the Pillar Falls Trail

At about 1/4-mile from the switchback at the cascade’s bottom, I then reached the banks of the Snake River.

At first, it didn’t seem like Pillar Falls and the pillar formations were reachable from here, but when I explored along the river’s banks, I noticed a shelf that I could cling onto to continue hiking.

Eventually, this informal “trail” joined up with a more obvious trail in another 0.1-mile.

Hiking To The Brink Of Pillar Falls – The Right Fork At The Unsigned Junction

Had I kept right at the unsigned trail junction, the Pillar Falls Trail would remain obvious to follow as it would eventually reach a point where the trail would narrow and make a steep descent after about 0.15-mile.

Pillar_Falls_216_04022021 - Looking back at the unsigned trail junction where the fork to the right (left if going downhill) was described above
Looking back at the unsigned trail junction where the fork to the right (left if going downhill) was described above

Then, the trail narrowed considerably as it involved a fairly steep 100ft elevation loss before bottoming out (and being joined by the informal trail mentioned previously).

During my visit in early April 2021, there was some graffiti near the bottom of this descent.

And while the graffiti was not sanctioned, it did hint at where I should be climbing back up on the return hike.

Hiking To The Brink Of Pillar Falls – Scrambling Onto The Island

The Pillar Falls Trail continued to skirt around an “inlet” of the Snake River as the trail traversed a light-flowing seasonal stream onto the “island” or peninsula containing the pillars.

Pillar_Falls_140_04022021 - Exploring the 'island' containing the pillars that gave Pillar Falls its name
Exploring the ‘island’ containing the pillars that gave Pillar Falls its name

At this point, it was pretty much “choose-your-own-adventure” of sorts because I had to figure out where I could safely explore as I found hidden alcoves and stagnant pools among the psychedelic formations around me.

I had to look past the unfortunate graffiti (which oddly had more politically-charged ones as opposed to the Hispanic tagging we’re used to seeing in California) on the various rock formations here.

Nevertheless, I spotted some rapids, cascades, caves, a hidden ladder, reflective pools, and the namesake pillar formations as I was aimlessly scrambling in this area.

Truthfully, I couldn’t tell which of the rapids and cascades were the actual Pillar Falls (or were they all collectively named as such?).

Pillar_Falls_162_04022021 - Looking across some of the segments of Pillar Falls near the brink of the waterfall's main drop
Looking across some of the segments of Pillar Falls near the brink of the waterfall’s main drop

But if I had to make a guess, I’d suspect that Pillar Falls pertained to the very wide 5ft waterfall at the very west end of the peninsula or “island” that I was standing on.

At first, I could only experience that wide waterfall from its brink without getting wet, but I’d eventually figure out a way to scramble around some of the water until I found a way to the far northern end of the canyon’s base.

It was from this vantage point that I could stand in front of a rivuleted cascade as well as see part of the front of the wide Pillar Falls at a distance.

Indeed, this adventure easily consumed the better part of an hour or more.

Pillar_Falls_182_04022021 - Looking back across at some more pillar formations as I scrambled my way in search of a more frontal view of the main drop of Pillar Falls
Looking back across at some more pillar formations as I scrambled my way in search of a more frontal view of the main drop of Pillar Falls

And in my mind, it further illustrates how you really should allocate some time to enjoy the adventure as opposed to treating it like a hiking goal to be conquered.

Overall, I spent about 2.5 hours on this excursion, but considering that the hike itself could be as little as 3 miles round trip, you really could spend as little as 2 hours or as much as a half-day.

Hiking To Overlooks Of Pillar Falls

An alternate way to experience Pillar Falls, which I learned from the Gregory Plumb book, was from overlooking the waterfalls and pillar formations from the north rim of the Snake River Canyon.

This involved driving north past the Perrine Coulee Bridge, then taking the Shoshone Falls Road to one of several unsigned pullouts or 4wd road entrances.

Pillar_Falls_Overlook_049_04032021 - Looking down at Pillar Falls and the namesake pillars from the north rim of the Snake River Canyon
Looking down at Pillar Falls and the namesake pillars from the north rim of the Snake River Canyon

From there, I then whipped out my iPhone loaded with Gaia GPS and navigated my way among the maze of 4wd roads towards the edge of the Snake River Canyon’s northern rim.

According to my trip logs, I hiked about 0.6-mile in each direction, but the terrain was pretty wide open so it wasn’t too difficult to find the desired lookout spots (especially using the Twin Falls Idaho Temple in the distance as a landmark).

I definitely had to be careful of how close to the cliff edge I went since there was no railing, and I brought my super telephoto lens to better zoom in on the interesting features.

In addition to witnessing the pillars around Pillar Falls, including the full width of its main drop, I also witnessed the intermediate cascade along the Pillar Falls Trail as well as neighboring runoff springs beneath the suburban homes off Pole Line Rd.

Pillar_Falls_Overlook_007_04032021 - Context of the hike along 4wd roads leading to the north rim of the Snake River Canyon. Notice the Twin Falls Idaho Temple on the topright of this photo
Context of the hike along 4wd roads leading to the north rim of the Snake River Canyon. Notice the Twin Falls Idaho Temple on the topright of this photo

Moreover, as I looked way up the Snake River Canyon, I could also see part of Shoshone Falls, which put into perspective where Pillar Falls was in relation to it.

Overall, I spent a little less than an hour away from the car, but most of that time was spent taking pictures as opposed to hiking.

Authorities

Pillar Falls resides in Twin Falls in Twin Falls County, Idaho. It is administered by the City of Twin Falls. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Pillar_Falls_005_04022021 - This was the pedestrian and bike path that did not take me towards the Pillar Falls Trailhead, but it seemed like most of the people went this way
Pillar_Falls_008_04022021 - At first, I made the mistake of taking the bike path until I realized when I got to this bridge that there was no way I could access the Pillar Falls Trail from here without trespassing
Pillar_Falls_009_04022021 - After realizing my mistake, I then headed back towards the Pole Line Road Trailhead
Pillar_Falls_253_04022021 - Looking in the distance across the Pole Line Rd Trailhead towards the Twin Falls Idaho Temple, which would later on serve as a useful landmark when navigating to the Pillar Falls Overlook (a separate excursion to the Pillar Falls hike)
Pillar_Falls_014_04022021 - Finally reaching the actual Pillar Falls Trailhead
Pillar_Falls_017_04022021 - Beginning the steep and slippery descent on the Pillar Falls Trail into the Snake River Canyon
Pillar_Falls_020_04022021 - It seemed like unsightly graffiti was never far away from trails that are close to developed cities, and the Pillar Falls Trail (in Twin Falls) was no different
Pillar_Falls_022_04022021 - The Pillar Falls Trail kept criss-crossing and descending alongside this attractive cascade, which was also flanked by a long diversion pipe
Pillar_Falls_025_04022021 - This pair of women had a real hard time with the Pillar Falls Trail given the shoes that they had on
Pillar_Falls_030_04022021 - Looking down over the cascade towards the Snake River as seen from the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_033_04022021 - Looking back up at the long diversion pipe as I was making my way further down the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_036_04022021 - Continuing the descent on the Pillar Falls Trail as it continued to get closer to the level of the Snake River
Pillar_Falls_040_04022021 - Looking back along the Snake River towards the Perrine Coulee Bridge from the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_055_04022021 - Just to give you an idea of how steep the Pillar Falls Trail was, here's a look back up at a pair of hikers making the climb back up to the trailhead
Pillar_Falls_059_04022021 - Looking across part of the cascade along the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_232_04022021 - Another couple and their dog making the steep descent along the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_079_04022021 - Looking back up at some springs that might be suburban runoff from the housing developments on the eastern outskirts of Twin Falls
Pillar_Falls_082_04022021 - More unsightly graffiti alongside the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_090_04022021 - When I reached the unsigned junction, I took a left and descended this steep and slippery trail down to the bottom of the cascades
Pillar_Falls_094_04022021 - Looking back up at the steep and slippery trail I took from the unsigned junction to the bottom of the cascades
Pillar_Falls_098_04022021 - After finally making it down to the Snake River Canyon floor, I suddenly found myself hiking alongside some very interesting formations along the canyon walls
Pillar_Falls_111_04022021 - Eventually, I reached the banks of the Snake River, where it didn't appear like there was a way to walk towards the pillars
Pillar_Falls_121_04022021 - However, I spotted people fishing near the pillars so I explored a bit more to see if there was a way to get to where these fishers were at without needing a kayak
Pillar_Falls_122_04022021 - That was when I found this shelf that I could hike along to eventually reach the pillars
Pillar_Falls_127_04022021 - Once I finally made it onto the 'island' containing the pillars, I then had to cross this seasonal stream
Pillar_Falls_131_04022021 - Now, I was finally on my choose-your-own-adventure part of the Pillar Falls hike
Pillar_Falls_139_04022021 - Looking back at some more unsightly graffiti on the far eastern side of the 'island' containing the pillars
Pillar_Falls_151_04022021 - Looking back in the distance towards some kind of cave as I was pursuing the brink of Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_156_04022021 - Checking out some other pillar formations surrounded by small cascades possibly comprising the larger system of Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_170_04022021 - Looking across a different segment of Pillar Falls as it fell from the shelf onto the rest of the Snake River
Pillar_Falls_173_04022021 - Looking across another one of the side cascades around Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_174_04022021 - While exploring around Pillar Falls, I couldn't help but notice this ladder perched high up this nook in one of the pillar formations
Pillar_Falls_176_04022021 - Checking out another one of the psychedelic rock formations around Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_179_04022021 - Looking across a reflective calm body of the Snake River around Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_190_04022021 - Looking past a rivuleted cascade fronted by some fishers towards part of the main drop of Pillar Falls in the distance
Pillar_Falls_200_04022021 - There were quite a few of these geese around Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_202_04022021 - Traversing before this apparent cave by Pillar Falls where it seemed like giant chunk of rock had flaked off
Pillar_Falls_207_04022021 - Making the steep climb back up from the floor of the Snake River Canyon to regain the Pillar Falls Trail on my way back to the trailhead
Pillar_Falls_208_04022021 - More politically-charged graffiti along the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_212_04022021 - After the steep climb, the trail then resumed following a more obvious path
Pillar_Falls_237_04022021 - Continuing the breathtakingly steep climb up towards the Pole Line Rd on the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_238_04022021 - Traversing the familiar cascade alongside the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_244_04022021 - Back among the graffiti as I was almost back up to the top of the Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_246_04022021 - Last look back down towards the pillars of Pillar Falls as I was near the end of the Pillar Falls hike
Pillar_Falls_248_04022021 - Finally making it back up to the Pole Line Rd
Pillar_Falls_251_04022021 - Following the Pole Line Rd between residences back to the trailhead parking
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_001_04032021 - The next day, I pursued an alternate way to experience Pillar Falls. This was one of the 4wd roads that I walked on to pursue the Pillar Falls Overlook
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_005_04032021 - Gregory Plumb's book mentioned that he had to walk through an old dump site en route to the Pillar Falls Overlook, but these days, it appeared to be illegal to dump, and that this was probably one of the few traces of evidence of this area's dumping past
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_012_04032021 - Following a different 4wd road eastwards as I used Gaia GPS to help me navigate to the desired viewing spots into the Snake River Canyon
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_015_04032021 - Closeup look at some cow patties suggesting that there was some cattle grazing going on in this side of the Snake River Canyon plateau
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_016_04032021 - The final stretch leading to the north rim of the Snake River Canyon
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_022_04032021 - Looking down at the context of Pillar Falls, its pillars, and some fishing boats
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_025_04032021 - Looking way upstream towards Shoshone Falls from the Snake River Canyon's North Rim above Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_029_04032021 - Looking across the Snake River Canyon towards the cascade that tumbled alongside the Pillar Falls Trail that I took yesterday afternoon
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_031_04032021 - Full context of Pillar Falls and the Pillar Falls Trail with its cascade across the Snake River
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_035_04032021 - Another full contextual look at the Pillar Falls and its namesake pillars
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_zoomed_009_04032021 - Zoomed in look across the full width of the Pillar Falls itself using a superzoom lens
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_zoomed_014_04032021 - Looking at the full drop of the cascade that tumbled alongside the steep Pillar Falls Trail
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_048_04032021 - Looking across the Snake River Canyon towards the Twin Falls Idaho Temple, which I used as sort of a navigational landmark when I was trying to figure out how to get to this spot from the Shoshone Falls Road
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_zoomed_022_04032021 - This boat kind of provided a sense of scale of the height of the Pillar Falls
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_zoomed_052_04032021 - Zoomed in look at the context of the runoff springs beneath the suburban housing developments and the Pillar Falls Trail with its neighboring cascade
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_053_04032021 - It was easier to navigate back to the parked car after having my fill of Pillar Falls because there were cars that would zoom by one Shoshone Falls Road
Pillar_Falls_Overlook_060_04032021 - Finally making it back to the parked car, which ended my brief excursion to the Pillar Falls Overlook


There are two ways to that I’ve managed to experience Pillar Falls – by hiking up close to the waterfall or by overlooking the area from the opposite side of the canyon.

Driving to the Pillar Falls Trailhead

The Pillar Falls Trailhead was pretty straightforward to reach as it sat right on the corner of Pole Line Rd and Eastland Dr N.

This was about 1 mile east of the US93 along Pole Line Rd.

Pillar_Falls_001_04022021 - Looking back at the paved part of the Pole Line Rd Trailhead Parking for the Pillar Falls hike as well as other walks and bike routes in the eastern side of Twin Falls
Looking back at the paved part of the Pole Line Rd Trailhead Parking for the Pillar Falls hike as well as other walks and bike routes in the eastern side of Twin Falls

There’s a fairly sizable semi-paved parking lot at this trailhead though it appeared to be shared with people doing other walks so it can get pretty busy here (though it looked like parking was plentiful during my visit in early April 2021).

Apparently, people used to be able to park closer to the actual trailhead for Pillar Falls, which was about 0.6-mile further east along Pole Line Rd.

That would explain why I always kept seeing cars pulling up to the private road signs and having to turn around (clearly acting on stale information they probably found on AllTrails, TripAdvisor, or personal blogs).

Driving to the Accesses for the Pillar Falls Overlooks

In order to reach the overlooks of Pillar Falls along the north rim of the Snake River Canyon, I had to drive north along the US93 over the Perrine Coulee Bridge towards the traffic light at Golf Course Rd / Shoshone Falls Rd.

Pillar_Falls_Overlook_061_04032021 - Finding a spot to pull over along Shoshone Falls Road and hiking along the 4wd roads towards the north rim of the Snake River Canyon
Finding a spot to pull over along Shoshone Falls Road and hiking along the 4wd roads towards the north rim of the Snake River Canyon

Turning right at this light, I then drove about 3/4-mile where there were plenty of informal 4wd roads leaving Shoshone Falls Rd to the right.

Since I didn’t want to risk damage to the rental car, I was content to find pullover space along Shoshone Falls Rd, and then walk the 4wd roads to the Snake River Canyon’s north rim.

Finally, for some geographical context, the town of Twin Falls was 128 miles (2 hours drive) east of Boise, 159 miles (2.5-3.5 hours drive) west of Idaho Falls, 218 miles (over 3 hours drive) northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, and 251 miles (under 4 hours drive) north of Ely, Nevada.

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Nearly 360 degree sweep showing the intermediate cascade alongside the Pillar Falls Trail with some diversion pipe beside it before ending at the Perrine Coulee Bridge


Following the cascade along the Pillar Falls Trail before sweeping back and forth along the Snake River Canyon and ending at the Perrine Coulee Bridge


Video focusing on the attractive bottommost part of the cascades tumbling alongside the Pillar Falls Trail


Back and forth sweep from the brink of the main part of Pillar Falls


Long video exploring from the brink of Pillar Falls all the way to some intermediate cascades fronting a couple of the pillars themselves


Brief sweep showing the rivuleted cascade with some people fishing across it and then showing the main waterfall in the distance


Long video doing a back and forth sweep around Pillar Falls from the right to the left and back while utilizing the superzoom lens

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Tagged with: snake river, twin falls, idaho, magic valley, bridge, waterfall, formations, canyon, pole line



Visitor Comments:

Thanks for posting this! April 27, 2021 4:43 pm by Steve Gillett - Hadn't heard of this, and I've been to Twin Falls more than once! I'll have to check it out next time I'm there. ...Read More

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