North Menan Butte - Menan, Idaho

The North Menan Butte Trail, also referred to as “R” Mountain by locals because of the large R painted on the side of the mountain is a scenic hike located just a short drive from both Idaho Falls and Rexburg. This relatively steep, yet scenic trail is the ideal recreational activity for both locals and tourists.

North Menan trail sign - Menan, Idaho

North and South Menan Butte are 2 of the world’s largest volcano tuff cones (volcanoes formed 10,000+ years ago from basaltic magma that boiled up from the ground water). These buttes stand as the site of the sole freshwater volcano eruptions in the US, thus leading to its’ classification as a National Natural Landmark.

If you are seeking something different and exciting to do, it is quite an unusual experience to walk around an ancient volcano. This is a great heart pumping hike in Southeastern Idaho, and much harder than I expected. The climb uphill is pretty steep. While living in the region, Mike and I hiked this trail at least once a month during the spring & summer.

Uphill climb at North Menan Butte trailhead in Menan, Idaho
The steep climb

The trail length is about 3 miles round trip. In addition, there is a loop around the top that you can walk around and explore or just relax and take in the views! The views from the top are very scenic – well worth the effort getting up the hill. It is a great workout for your legs as well. Most importantly, I enjoy the desolateness of this hike. It’s rare to see anyone else on the trail. With all our modern congestion, hiking a peaceful nature trail is a real treat!

Views from the top of the North Menan Butte hike in Menan, Idaho
Views from the top of the North Menan Butte trailhead in Menan, Idaho

Getting down the mountain is lot harder than going up in my opinion. The climb down is very steep. Luckily there are a few railings to help guide you down. There are not a lot of signs on the way down, so you have a few options on which direction to take.

Overall, hiking North Menan Butte is a peaceful trail featuring great desert scenery. The fabulous leg workout means you can skip the gym! I would much rather take in the natural beauty of Southern Idaho rather than stare at a treadmill screen! I know I will be back on my next visit to Idaho!

Tips for a great hike

Be aware that this is a desert hike with no shade, a few sandy areas to walk through, and no water at the start. Bring with plenty of water! Also be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, which are common in the area.

North Menan Butte - Menan, Idaho

Directions to the trailhead

We had a hard time finding a direct address for this trailhead. You will want to take a left on N 3600 E/Twin Butte Road and follow for 3 miles until you see the trailhead parking lot. Check out this map for directions from both Idaho Falls and Rexburg.