The natural beauty of Central Idaho is truly breathtaking. For this reason, hiking is one of the most popular activities in the McCall area, which is located about 100 miles north of Boise.
Outdoor enthusiasts can find more than 500 miles of public trails, 300 lakes, and 1,400 miles of streams in the McCall area. Some of the most well-known lakes are Payette Lake and Lake Cascade. Notable rivers in the area include the Payette River, Salmon River, and Snake River.
Hiking trails are available for all levels of fitness and any timeframe. If you only have an hour or would like to hike all day long there are some great options. String together a longer trip in the Payette National Forest for backpacking. There are many places to camp and many miles of trails in the backcountry.
During the winter months, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are available on many of the trails, making the outdoors accessible to residents year-round.
Hiking Trails Near McCall, Idaho
The beautiful scenery around McCall includes high mountain lakes, fields of wildflowers, and mature trees. Each hike offers something different and many unique experiences await hikers. Here is a look at some of the most popular McCall Idaho hikes.
Loon Lake Loop and Beyond
Loon Lake Loop and Beyond is a 10 mile loop trail located near Riggins, ID. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking. Two scenic Canyons and a large, productive lake. The trail to Loon Lake is usually done as a loop. In the past, however, the big question was whether one could ford the Secesh River because it was not bridged at Chinook Campground, and because it is a river, not a creek. Finally, in the fall of 2000, the Forest Service built a pack bridge over the Secesh in order to protect the Chinook salmon that spawn in and near this very location.
Location: National Forest Road 080, McCall, ID 83638
Photo Credit: erikjusterik via Instagram
Twin Lakes (Trail #165) is a steady, one-mile, uphill climb to the Twin Lakes. The elevation gain is only about 400'. You can fish at the top, but it's best to go early in the season because of the drawdown at the dam. Bring the whole family and have a picnic at the top, it's a fun place for kids.
If you would like to make the hike longer, veer off the trail at the half-mile mark and climb to Granite Mountain. It's a challenging hike, but offers a rewarding view.
To find the trailhead, go north on Highway 55 and turn right on Goose Lake Road. Stay left as Brundage Mountain Resort draws near. The road turns to dirt. When you get to a Y junction, keep left toward Hazard Lake on Forest Service Road 247. In about seven miles, you will see a sign for "Granite Mountain/Twin Lakes Trailhead" on your left. Note that there are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
Photo Credit: fitforreason via Instagram
This hike is one of the favorite McCall, Idaho hikes for families. Some hiking books label it as 'moderate' but most families find it suitable for their children. It's about two miles to the lake with an elevation gain of about 700 feet. For most of the trail, it climbs slowly until just before the lake when hikers will encounter a few switchbacks among the rocks.
The scramble adds to the fun and anticipation of reaching the beautiful lake. Gorgeous views await at the lake as well as fishing, swimming, exploring small waterfalls, viewing wildflowers, picking huckleberries, and watching the wildlife. Boulder Lake is open to fishing year-round, but keep in mind that there is a limit of six fish per angler. Bring a picnic lunch and make it a fun excursion with the whole family.
To get to this trail from McCall, head south on Highway 55. Turn left on Elo Road and drive for three miles. Keep to the left when the road splits and climb up Boulder Lake Road. Continue driving for five miles, always staying right at any junctions to reach the trailhead parking area.
East Fork Lake Fork Creek
Photo Credit: hikingproject.com
If you decide to do this trail in its entirety, you will be enjoying a 13-mile out-and-back hike. However, it's a great trail for the kids if you turn around when needed. The hike follows the creek which provides rocks to climb on, huckleberries, and small fishing holes to explore. A good place to turn around is .8 miles in at an unsigned junction.
If you would like to go farther, the first five miles are good for mountain biking, but after this, there are some major stream crossings. The trail eventually reaches Snowslide Summit and then Snowslide Lake. Access is available at the Lake Fork Trailhead on Lick Creek Road, about one mile past the Lake Fork Campground.
Photo Credit: gtrufant via Instagram
This easy, family-friendly hike is just under a mile each way. At the top of the hike is the beautiful Josephine Lake that spans 13-acres. There is also a gorgeous view of the 8,286-foot Squaw Point. At the lake, there is a footpath that travels around the shoreline as well as several campsites. You can fish in the lake or just enjoy the scenery and a picnic.
Find this trailhead by traveling along Warren Wagon Road. You will pass historic cabins, the North Fork of the Payette River, Upper Payette Lake, and Secesh Summit. Three miles after passing the summit, go left on Forest Service Road 316 marked "Josephine Lake." Continue up the road to the trailhead, but be aware the road is a bit bumpy.