Four Fall Hikes to Try Before the Snow Flies
Summer may officially be over, but there are still plenty of trails to get you out of the house and enjoying the changing seasons in McCall. Here are four of our favorites hikes to try before winter hits.
Duck Lake (Easy)
This is a perfect trail if you want to get out into the backcountry and enjoy the last days of fall. Duck Lake is a short hike, approximately 2 miles round trip, and has little elevation gain which makes an ideal hike for most ages and abilities. The trail can still be accessed even with a dusting of snow, so don’t let it’s trailhead at the top of Lick Creek Summit deter you. Along the trail, enjoy stunning panoramic views of the valley below. While a lot of this area was burned in the 1994 fires, the lake itself escaped the fire and is nestled in dense forest.
From Davis at the 4-way stop near Ponderosa State Park’s entrance, turn onto Lick Creek Road. After 3 miles, take the fork toward Little Payette Lake. The road will turn to gravel just past Snowdon’s entrance. Continue along Lick Creek Road until you reach a large parking lot on the left with a sign for “Duck Lake Hum Lake” (about 16 miles in).
Goose Creek Falls (Easy)
Goose Creek Falls can be accessed from two areas: Last Chance Campground and the Snowmobile Parking Lot just below Brundage Mountain Resort. While both directions offer something special, we like this trail from Last Chance Campground for an easier hike in. The trail weaves in and out of dense forest and along several creeks before reaching the falls about 2.5 miles in. Goose Creek Falls plunges 60 feet into a large pool and while the last season means the water won’t be as big, the falls are still an impressive site.
From McCall, head north on Highway 55 past the Brundage Mountain Road and take a right onto Last Chance Road (FR 453). Follow the road 2.2 miles to a Y-intersection and turn right into the Last Chance Campground. At the end of the campground there is a sign for the trailhead and parking for several vehicles. One note: Last Chance Campground typically closes mid-September so you may need to park outside of the Campground and walk in.
Louie Lake (Moderate)
Boulder Lake gets a lot of attention as one of McCall’s “must-do” hikes, but its sister trail, Louie Lake, is one of our favorites. Designated as a trophy lake, Louie Lake is backdropped by the magnificent cliffs of Jughandle Mountain. The trail to the lake is just less than two miles long. Its steady uphill hike is enough to give you a workout, but not enough to make it too difficult for families. Louie Lake also makes a loop to Boulder Lake if you want to continue the fun. In total, the loop is approximately 6.8 miles roundtrip.
From McCall, head south on Highway 55 and turn left onto Elo Road. At 2.8 miles, veer left onto the Boulder Lake Road and follow to its end (about 4.9 miles). As you enter the campground, turn right and park at the end of this short road. The Louie Lake Trail is marked and easy to find!
Snowslide Lake (Strenuous)
This leg-burning hike is well worth the effort! Snowslide Lake sites in a bowl below Snowslide Peak and is the perfect reward at the end of the trail. The hike starts by crossing the North Fork of Lake Fork Creek at the trailhead. This late in the season, it is pretty easy to jump along rocks and keep your feet dry. From here, the trail winds through shaded forest before turning uphill about 0.4 miles in. We won’t sugarcoat it, the elevation gain is no joke. The good news is that there is stunning scenery to enjoy while you stop to catch your breath! As you near the 1 mile mark, look to your right for sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Once you reach the lake, take some time to explore. A well-worn trail around the eastern shoreline will take you right to the base of Snowslide Peak where you can find a few campsites dotting the shoreline.
From Davis at the 4-way stop near Ponderosa State Park’s entrance, turn onto Lick Creek Road. After 3 miles, take the fork toward Little Payette Lake. The road will turn to gravel just past Snowdon’s entrance. Continue along Lick Creek Road until you reach a small parking lot on the right with a sign for Snowslide Lake (about 12 miles in).