Hike to Boulder Lake

After leaving the Sawtooths and heading north we had a loose plan to spend a day or two near a lake to relax. En route we decided on Payette Lake and found a spot in the town of McCall. Once there we selected a popular hike in the area – Boulder Lake, which was supposed to be highly scenic and would also offer the opportunity to make a longer loop out of the trek should we want to.

The trail started out following the shore of Boulder Creek Reservoir and was pretty muddy as we walked along the lowlands, though we were offered some nice peaks of the water. From there we turned upwards into the trees and began our elevation gain. Though the forest floor was generally quite dry around us we often found ourselves rock hopping or plodding through even more mud on the trail which slowed us a bit more than anticipated in combination with the steady grade. It was certainly a nice forest however. The tree cover thankfully kept much of the sun off us as we climbed but it resulted in poor photos. So basically the pictures below start a half mile and 300 feet below the lake when the domed hunks of granite began appearing – first rising above us and then breaking through the forest floor.

As we approached the final scramble we came upon the spectacularly-beautiful outflow from the lake tumbling down the smoothed granite. Unfortunately the position of the sun put the waterfall in shadow so my picture does it no justice but tt was plenty gorgeous to admire however as we picked our way up the steep granite. And then we were at the top, within feet of the lake shore, staring at the perfectly-framed, snowy peaks on the far side of the glassy water. I believe we stayed at that spot for nearly 10 minutes before moving on.

From there it we decided to procee up the granite dome to the west side of the lake for views both over the water and down the valley to the reservoir we’d begun hiking. And then from there we agreed to climb around the east side of the lake. At this point we were enjoying the views and the fun of scrambling around on the granite and had pretty much agreed not to complete the loop trail but we did attempt to find it in hopes of finding an easier path around the water. We were unable to locate the path however – but we certainly found some fantastic vantage points and had some memorable descents down the cracks in the boulders.

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