Thursday, June 21, 2012

10 reasons to head for McCall this weekend - hiking, biking, boating, beaching, hanging out

The good ship "Idaho," the new tour boat provided by Payette Lake Cruises. (Courtesy Ellen Ganz)
Bike racing at Jug Mountain Ranch. (Courtesy JMR)

Hi all,

I'm heading for McCall this weekend, and you should too!

In this week's outdoor tip, I'll give you at least 10 reasons to visit McCall. I'll start with Reason #1 -- Beat the Heat! When it hits 90 degrees in Boise, I automatically think about migrating to the lush, shady forests of McCall, where the wildflowers are beginning to bloom, and it will be at least 15 degrees cooler than it is in Boise.

Here's Reason #2Payette Lake Cruises, a brand new tour boat service in McCall just started operation this year. The cruise service has a 65-foot, two-level tour boat named "Idaho" with daily tours of the lake at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., a Sunday brunch tour, private dinner tours and more. Daily 90-minute tours cost $20 for adults and $12 for kids. The Sunday brunch tour includes food for $39 for adults. Sounds like a lot of fun! Not everyone has their own power boat or sail boat to cruise around on Payette Lake.

Reason #3: The Wild Rockies series moves to Jug Mountain Ranch in Lake Fork this weekend. It's the 5th annual Jug Mountain Ranch cross-country race and Super D. The cross-country course is 12 miles long on mostly singletrack with a few two-track sections. That's on Saturday. It's a national qualifying event. The downhill is on Sunday. Plus, there's a trail-running event on Saturday. I've been riding a lot at Jug the last few years. The riding out there keeps getting better as Jug Mountain Ranch, CIMBA and others enhance the trail system by building new xc trails and freeride trails. See the Wild Rockies web site for details about the race this weekend. 
Mountain biking in McCall is totally fab!  

Reason #4: I just reprinted and updated my guide Mountain Biking in McCall with new singletrack at Jug Mountain Ranch, the latest routes and map for Bear Basin Trails, a new meadow loop at Tamarack Resort, and other important updates to reflect logging impacts on trails or washouts (Teapot Mountain Loop in the South Fork Salmon River area is now an out-and-back ride). Some good bets for mountain biking this weekend include Bear Basin (can't go wrong), Tamarack meadow loop (great for all abilities), North Valley Rail-Trail (easy), and Loon Lake (advanced).  All of the local outdoor stores are stocked up on my guidebook, including Gravity Sports, Hometown Sports, McCall Drug, May Hardware, Shore Lodge gift shop, Paul's, Ridley's, the McCall gift shop and Ponderosa State Park. 
Morel mushroom

Reason #5: It's still possible to hunt for tasty morel mushrooms in the forests around McCall. I would look for them above 6,000 feet elevation. Make sure you know how to identify morels. 

Reason #6: Reilly Coyote will be playing Saturday night at the Salmon River Brewery, a very popular hangout in McCall with great food on Colorado Street. 

Reason #7: The snow is melting fast, but according to the McCall Ranger District, the snow level is hovering at approximately 6,700 feet elevation. That means the forest road to Lick Creek Summit is snow-bound at the summit, but you may be able to reach lower elevation trails. Some good bets for hiking would include the Huckleberry Trail at Ponderosa State Park, 20-Mile Trail near Upper Payette Lake, Bear Basin Trails and the North Valley Rail-Trail

Reason #8: It'd be a sweet weekend to paddle the Meanders on the north end of Payette Lake with your sweetheart. Start and finish at North Beach. If you have your own canoe, inflatable kayak or sit-on-top kayak, any of those crafts would work great for the Meanders. It's about 3-4 miles out and back. There also are rental boats available in McCall at North Beach, at The Hub, and Gravity Sports. The trip is featured in my guidebook "Paddling the Payette." 

Reason #9: It's always a good time to lounge on the beach in McCall. Bring your lawn chairs, some beverages and find some beach space to hang out on the south end of the lake (two public beaches), the north end by North Beach, or dispersed sites on the east side of the lake. 

Reason #10: All of the local golf courses are open and ready for play. The McCall city course is really fun and challenging to play ... it has 3 different nines. You also could play Meadow Creek in New Meadows, Osprey Meadows at Tamarack (closed temporarily until June 30), Whitetail by Shore Lodge or Jug Mountain Ranch

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas. I didn't even mention road biking to Secesh Summit,  circumnavigating Payette Lake on your bike (some dirt involved on the east side road) or soaking in the wonderful pool at Burgdorf. I could go on and on. 

If you don't have a place to stay in McCall, try to snag a hotel room, or check with or for a condo or rental home. You can always pitch a tent in the national forest nearby, too! 

Don't forget your bug juice. The mosquitoes will be a factor ... at least in the evenings. 
Have fun! 
-- SS
Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning in Boise at approximately 7:10 a.m. You can hear archived audio segments on River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each at, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.

No comments: