Explore the most popular lake trails in Payette National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
13 hours ago

Only a third of this trail is a hiking trail; the rest is a ATV trail/road. This means you’re sharing space and dust with trucks and buggies. It’s a steep up with some good views of granite cliffs. The lake is pretty and gives this another star but it’s man-made and warm so muddy. BOULDER LAKE ROAD IS CLOSED BEFORE YOU REACH THE TRAIL HEAD. YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE A MORE CIRCUITOUS ROUTE THAN GOOGLE MAPS OUT. On the AllTrails app these roads are marked as Jeep trails. They’re a bit rutted but okay. Use the satellite map to see what is truly roads. When at the bottom of the hill the trailhead is to the right.

fishing
3 days ago

One of the best lakes on the whole loop. Easy hike especially once past Boulder Lake. Thousand foot granite cliffs tower above a few decent camp sites. Great swimming once the lake warms up by late July. Pesky fishing, but the lake does contain cutthroat, Brown, brook, and cutbow.

The whole way up is packed with great challenges, up up up you go, and once you get to the lake, take it in, then get on the next trail to loop around boulder lake, I went counter clockwise, so make sure you keep a close eye on the trail, finding the right trail can be a little tricky , once I got to the other side of the lake I ended up just sticking as close to the lake as I could, much easier to see where I was going, then before I knew it I was back at the beginning of the loop, boulder lake is beautiful!

hiking
7 days ago

A serious ass kicker, lots of inclines and dips but the beauty of nature around you is so worth it, there are so many wildflowers and the water is so clear!, nothing beats a hike that really makes you work for it, it’ll pay off big time and the trail maintenance people are super sweet, they do a great job keeping the trail clear so you don’t wander off in the wrong direction, if you want a challenge and a sensory overload, then make this the next hike you go on

Loved this hike. We went clockwise, which I believe is the better choice. We had a range of kids on the hike, ages 4 to 12. The ascent was challenging, but we took a good lunch and swim break at Boulder Lake before continuing the loop.
Oh, just remember that as you come down from Louie Lake on the ATV road, you need to look for the right turn on to the “Boulder Lake Trailhead” cutoff trail. It is very clearly marked, but could be easy to fall into a “downhill malaise” and just keep following the road.

One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on. Perfect in every way. Wildflowers, lake, small creeks to cross, lots of shade. Very scenic. Had a 5-year old with us and he did fine. Lots of rocks, though, to step through.

hiking
10 days ago

This is a really great and beautiful hike, but hard to find. The trail which is actually only 4 miles in total was not located where the gps sends you. The best way to go is using directions from google. Once you get to the location on google it is down a road to the right about 50 yards. There is a sign that points out the trail and the trail is pretty well marked. Hopefully this will be helpful because getting there is the hardest part.

Hiked the full Boulder Lake Loop on over to Louie Lake today. We hiked clockwise, which I would highly recommend . When you reach Boulder Lake follow the lake trail to the right and watch for a side trail cutting uphill to the right, marked by a cairn. This is the trail to Louie Lake. It’s another climb, but worth it. We brought fly rods and caught a couple cut throat right off the shore. The trail out is mostly downhill and very dusty. As you descend you eventually end up on a gravel road and then you will see signs on trees and a sign directing you back to Boulder Lake Trailhead. Do it! You will love it!

hiking
12 days ago

Moderate hike with wide and nicely maintained trails. The hike to the lake is uphill for almost the entire time. The hike starts with crossing a river across a few logs, so wear good footwear and be aware if hiking with small children. The lake is beautiful and we basically had it to ourselves, although we found the fish to be elusive that afternoon ;) Overall, a very nice, not crowded hike that I highly recommend.

Hiked the loop today, views were great. Took us longer than we thought it would take. Agree with other post that trail is not marked that great but we found are way. A thank you out to the nice people on the UTV who gave us water as we had run out

backpacking
16 days ago

A group of 8 of us just hiked this loop a couple of days ago. We went down on the West side of the loop (right of the trailhead) and came back up along the Secesh River on the East side of the loop. The hike was fun, moderate, not hard at all but I was disappointed to see so many burned down trees. Although we still enjoyed the hike it would have been breathtaking before the fire destroyed most of the area in the late 2000s. The West side of the loop was very hot and dusty with little shade but the East side along the river was much nicer. We camped at a great beach spot in front of the lake the first night and hiked to see the 23 Bomber which was pretty neat. The hike to the Bomber was easy although we had to climb over burned down logs most of the way. There was also water crossing to it so bring water shoes or climb over a large log. It's easier to hike to the Bomber by taking a right from the campground in front of the lake since we heard the left side was very marshy and wet. The second day we found a hidden Hot Springs called Secesh hotsprings. It was quite a climb up the mountain along the spring but breathtaking once up above. We almost gave up trying to find it but we just kept going up almost to the top of the mountain... There were 2-3 decent size pools but pretty dirty although we cleaned one and enjoyed it. The second night we camped on an awesome beach spot with white sand by the Secesh River. This spot was to the right of the bridge off the Secesh R Trail towards Whangdoodle Trail. About a mile off that trail we crossed the river to find the hotsprings and the beach camp spot was about a half mile back from there. The hotsprings was before the Whangdoodle Trail. Overall we had a spectacular time although I wish I would have known about the burned down trees the entire hike...

This is an awesome day hike! Lunch at the lake and WWII plane wreckage to look at!

hiking
17 days ago

We hiked this trail instead of MTB. Decent trail once you figured out how to get there.. absolutely nothing is marked so make sure you have your trail map handy! Double track logging trail pretty dusty until you get to the single track.

backpacking
17 days ago

Hiked in to the lake and spent a night. Forest Service crew was doing trail work as we hiked in, cutting out downed trees. This trail kicked my butt and I’m in decent shape at 2800’ with no pack on. At 7100’ with a heavy pack I suffered. Wildflowers were raging! As were the mosquitoes. Packed in a fishing rod but detected no fish in the lake. Visitors to this place need to study up and practice Leave No Trace.

Excellent hike great workout

hiking
21 days ago

A very beautiful and scenic hike that I’d agree is a moderate rated trail, starting out easy and getting more moderate as you climb in elevation. There is a beautiful waterfall just off the trail on the right hand side not far from Boulder Lake itself. Can’t miss it, as you’ll be able to hear the rushing water. Didn’t have time to make the loop, but will make sure I do that next time I’m up visiting.

backpacking
23 days ago

My first backpacking trip. I had day hiked this in 2006 with my kids. This was my first overnighter. Sad to see the damage to the forest from the fire but the new growth is encouraging. We saw a wolf on the trail heading out early morning.

Didn’t hike the full loop, just to the lake and back. Lots of tiny streams to cross and rocks to climb on which kept the kids (6 & 3) interested. Could use a little more signage but overall a nice day hike. We will be back for the full loop the next time we visit McCall.

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike! Beautiful wildflowers, solid incline, and well maintained trail. Only took an afternoon to complete!

Very nice trail. While rated as moderate, my kids would disagree with that...the first section of the trail (I think we did it backwards) is pretty strenuous. The first 3-4 miles. Lots of uphill followed by lots of downhill. But the views are worth the sweat. Absolutely beautiful! Enjoy this one.

Beautiful hike. Go in the morning to avoid people.

Went clockwise around trails perfect day hike and plane wreckage was amazing to see! For me 4 hours with a short sandwich stop.

Beautiful hike! Lake was full of fish

backpacking
1 month ago

This trail is awesome and we can’t wait to do it again. We backpacked up to the lake and stayed the night. The hike to the lake took us 2:15 to get to the lake and 1:45 to make it back. FYI, No snow in July.

Readers need to take note of the intervals of the contour lines. The intervals on the map are large and if your not aware the map can be deceiving.

There are several excellent campsites on the south side of the lake (3 established sites right on the lake and 2-3 about 50 meters off the lake). There is a beach on the south sound of the lake that is perfect for swimming. We were planning on camping on the north side but couldn’t find the trail so we stayed on the south side of the lake.

We hiked the summit west of the lake for fun. There wasn’t a trail so se just scaled the mountain for a fun day hike.

If you feel like hiking in a fishing pole in, there were a lot of fish jumping in the lake during the morning hours.

Bring bug spray!

trail running
1 month ago

Amazing scenery

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes I have done. Had a bachelor hike for my twin brother. It's almost up hill the whole way up. Amazing scenery the entire way. Once you get to the top were you can see the lake it's a step trail all the way to the lake. Very rewarding hike. I would rate this difficult. because of the elevation gain in 3.5 miles. I will be hiking this trail again. Just remember its down hill once you hike back out of the lake.

Hiked yesterday great workout view of lakes are amazing. More signs would be nice trail can be confusing at time but would do it again for sure

Great hike today with perfect weather. Approximately an hour in and a bit longer on the way out. The road had just been graded.

Ended up on the trailhead for boulder when looking for a different trail but what I great hike! Only did the up and back instead of the full loop which is a great little day hike and really covered the whole way which will make it perfect for hotter weeks ahead. Not overly trafficked but you’re also never alone. Some parts very steep so for a quick 2 mile jaunt up there you still get a decent work out. Stunning views both of river along the way and the final lake

Went clockwise past Boulder and then up past Louie. The trail was clear the whole way and in pretty good shape! This is a great day hike for anyone visiting the McCall area.

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