Thursday, July 8, 2021

Looking to cool off in the Idaho mountains? Six keeper hikes to explore in the greater McCall area, recommended by local experts

How about your own personal snowfield? Huck liked it!

Hi all, 

Many of you are no doubt heading for the high country, high mountain lakes, mountain towns and shady spots along our wonderful rivers and streams to stay cool during this wicked unrelenting triple-digit heat. 

So if you're visiting the greater McCall area to cool off in the near future, I wanted to call attention to the current issue of Visit McCall magazine, Summer 2021. The McCall Chamber of Commerce partnered with Roger Phillips, yours truly and Scott Merchant to write about some of our favorite hikes in the vicinity.

I wrote about hiking the Bear Pete Trail from Cloochman Saddle to an overlook of Josephine Lake, Phillips wrote about "Goldilocks destinations" - Upper Hazard Lake and Hard Creek Lake, and Merchant wrote about "Wildflower Pilgrimages" to Granite Mountain, Box Lake and Lava Butte Lake.

Here's an online link from the McCall Chamber site that provides the full stories from all three of us ... Just ask an expert! 

Hard-copies of the full-color magazine are available in McCall Chamber office and local stores.

Editor McKenzie Kraemer's intro for the "Walk in the Woods" stories is intriguing: 

"There are about a million benefits to hiking - from the stunning scenery to the cardio boost of an uphill climb - but the underlying appeal, and the thing we always come back to, is that a walk in the woods has a magical way of bringing calm and connection."

My narrative on Bear Pete Trail tells the god-honest truth that I discovered the trail in the mid '90s in my quest to explore all of the bikeable trails in the greater McCall area for my guidebook, Mountain Biking in McCall. Turns out, it's a super hard gut-buster ride to scale the ups and downs of Bear Pete Mountain from the south to the north, or the north to the south, but it's one heck of a fun and adventurous full day's ride. 

I've returned to the southern trailhead at Cloochman Saddle (about 20 miles north of McCall) to hike the trail, which is much easier than trying to bike it. I'd rate the hike as being moderate with strenuous sections to the Josephine Lake overlook or points farther north. But it's definitely doable for most abilities; great for kids. 

One of the biggest benefits of the Bear Pete hike is to experience the feeling of seeing big and massive mountain ranges all around you, giant hunks of granite lording over the upper Payette River watershed on one side, and then an endless sea of mountains reaching to the north, toward the Salmon River - River of No Return, and the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. You are on the edge of wilderness for literally hundreds of square miles in Central Idaho. 

It's a place where I feel small, as a humanoid. 

See the online link to read my story about Bear Pete and get directions to the trailhead. I'll share some more pics below ... 

The Payette Crest looking east from Bear Pete Mountain


Wendy at the overlook of Josephine Lake

Huck sniffs the bear grass ... love it when you can see those white bulbs in bloom

Snow-covered ridgeline above 7,000 feet ... You can see forever up here! 

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