Explore the most popular wildlife 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.

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.

One of my favorites!

backpacking
17 days ago

Hiked in to Boulder Lake weekend of 6/1 for the night. Still fallen trees to climb over along the trail, and plenty of snow to trek through along the south side of the lake. The best overnight backpacking trip within distance of the Boise area that can easily be extended to a multi day trip with use of the lakes farther along the trail (Summit, Rapid, Box).

The road up to the trailhead is a dirt road, very bumpy for about 1.5 miles before the trailhead. Bathroom 20 min drive before trailhead.

At the end of May, the access road was still covered in snow that couldn’t be cleared probably by any vehicle, and the bathroom at the trailhead was still locked.

We hiked up the road from Box Lake trailhead anyways, because we were feeling like go-getters and had come all the way, and decided to camp at Duck Lake. Only about a 1/3 of the trail was covered in snow, mainly the portion closest to Duck Lake, and a thin layer of ice was still covering half the lake’s surface.

No sight of bears. Tons of giant fallen trees covering the trail and access road. According to Payette National Forest site, this trail hasn’t been maintained since summer 2016, but scheduled for July of this year. We’ll definitely return again to cover the whole route to Loon Lake once the conditions are better. Contrary to the info other sites offer about this trail (best season starting in March), it is obviously still not in season by May.

We went clockwise. Between Louie and Boulder lakes there was quite a bit of snow still on the trail. Great views and trail was in good shape otherwise.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and we actually ended up here after not being able to find the trailhead we wanted! We made this out & back for 4 miles, but enjoyed it immensely! The trail was definitely popular and had young kids to some older adults on it, and a lot of dogs!
It was great with our dog because there were quite a few streams of water he could take a sip from along the way. The Boulder Lake still had ice on it in the shade when we arrived. Some steep sections, and, as the name implies, boulders. I would recommend close-toed shoes, but I did see folks with Chacos.

hiking
28 days ago

Pretty good trail. Backpacked it this memorial day weekend. Alltrails description is a bit confusing I feel like. If you just do the loon lake loop it's about 10 miles, I don't know why the length rating for it is from the ruby lake trailhead.

The coordinates that alltrails take you to are also incorrect, you have to continue up the road about another 6 miles where it turns to gravel to chinook campground. Once at chinook you can go left or right across a bridge. If you go left it's about 6 miles to the lake, right is about 4.5 miles to the lake. The two different paths merge about a 1/4 mile before loon lake.

Lake is too high right now to get over to the bomber but the trail up to loon is in accessible shape. Currently alot of fallen timber across the trail from wintertime so plan accordingly.

Trail is in full sun. Early May the wild flowers are amazing, but the hotsprings are chilly due to high water. Check for thunderstorm possibilities. Being out in a burn with high winds and lightening may not be everyone's idea of adventure.

One of my favorite places to hike and backpack!!!!!

hiking
8 months ago

The last mile was really steep but the lake was well worth it.

lots of good fishing at Louie lake!

Moderately difficult. We went clockwise around the loop, and the elevation gain is more gradual that way. The only issue with the trail we ran across was that the turn off to complete the loop is not marked well, so we had to turn around and double back to find the right turn. Take lots of water and have fun!

hiking
9 months ago

Did the Boulder / lake Louie trail today with my husband. Bring plenty of water as once you're past Boulder Lake, very few water spots/shade. Beautiful hike but dry. Loved Lake Louie!

Easy trail, but very sunny, so go early.

Great trail! Did it going clockwise. Only draw back is the dusty exit along an old jeep trail from Louis Lake. Lots of great views and wildflowers still out!

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Lots of variation in this hike. Approaching the edge of the lake from below (the North East leg) was a unique experience. Lots of beautiful meadows with wildflowers in mid-Aug. The last 1/3 of the hike (SW portion of the loop) is an uneventful walk on fire roads. Keep an eye out for direction arrows or you can miss your turn.

hiking
10 months ago

One of the most beautiful trails I've hiked in Idaho. Meadows of wildflowers -- lupine, fireweed, Indian paintbrush, sulfur buckwheat, penstemon, strawflowers, wild orchids and other things I don't know the name of. Lakes on the loop are crystal clear and the trail borders them for wonderful views. The loop took us 3.5 hours with a foot soak at Boulder Lake and a lunch break. Be sure to use the record feature on this app; it saved us from potentially going way off course. The trails are more or less unmarked and it would be very easy to get lost without the tracker and a fully-charged phone.

backpacking
10 months ago

It was a great trip, we started at duck lake trail and Hum lake. We passed duck lake went on ahead to hum lake. It was about 3.5 miles in and back. It was tough going down to hum lake with lots of blow down with trees. Great fishing if you make it down to hum lake. Lots of bugs, bring spray. Some deer tracks no big animals. Pack lots of water, you should fill up down at the bottom. My girls did this hike and they are 7 & 9, family friendly. The pictures are of Hum lake.

Just returned from Idaho and wanted to share that this trail was beautiful and challenging. But only challenging because once you get to the lake, there is no sign to indicate where the trail continues, simply cairns showing the way. Well, we totally missed it. And as a result, hiked 17 miles instead of 7. Heads up to everyone--- we are experienced hikers and this happened to us. So, look for the rocks, not the sign. Even with the suffering, great trail!

trail into lake either direction is in perfect shape. lots of hard work has obviously gone in to clearing deadfall. trails to the bomber crash site were in horrible condition. watch for Mamma Moose and baby at crash site. very very marshy conditions. in mid -late July. at upper end of lake.

hiking
11 months ago

Go early in the year to experience the runoff pools around the dam at the end of the trail. Felt tropical! Good for dogs and kids.

Please note-- at the fork in the road, left goes through the meadows, but right goes through the steeper area. The map for this follows the right turn.

The trail was green, filled with wildflowers, bunchgrass, large conifers, and some small shrubs. Various bird calls, some deer, no large wildlife. Trail was exceedingly well maintained-- at least 5 bridges built to allow crossing, and some land-bridges built, too, over aluminum piping. Temperature was 70-80. We counted about 10-15 bug bites apiece when we got back to the car.


4 vacant camping spots up here-- only a 1 mile walk in. lots of available firewood for anyone with a little muscle.

on Boulder Lake Loop Trail

backpacking
11 months ago

Great trip, bring lots of bug spray, too many bugs. Overall a great hike.

We hiked this last year in June 2016. We hiked to the bomber which was a challenge. The water was high and we had to cross two rivers. It worked out because there were a lot of downed trees we had to hike over so the cold water was a welcome. If you're up for an adventure I'd say do it!! It took us from start to finish with a few resting points about 6 hours.

hiking
11 months ago

We made it about 3/4 of the way to the lake from our base camp at Boulder Lake. Still a lot of snow and the trail was hard to find at times. After fording Rapid Creek too much snow made the trail impossible to find. Absolutely beautiful and can't wait to go back after the snow melts a bit more.

backpacking
11 months ago

Still a ton of snow on the north side of the lake. Be prepared for trekking over large snow mounds. The trail gets covered occasionally. Snow melt made for a lot of standing and running water. Chacos or Keens highly recommended. Beautiful lake and great backpacking trip.

Amazing views!

hiking
11 months ago

The 9.1 miles must be for an ATV trail. The hiking route is 1.4 miles and about 800 vertical. Had to cross Boulder Creek on a log to get started, and then hiking on an ATV trail for much of the way, but no traffic today. Lake is reminiscent of Sawtooth Lake, very pretty.

hiking
11 months ago

Great hike. We were pressed for time, so we just did a 3.9 mile or and back to Boulder Lake. It was beautiful. Lots and lots of water flowing out of the lake this time of year, and there were some bugs, but not too bad.

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