Payette National Forest

Payette National Forest, located in west-central Idaho, is a vast and diverse natural area known for its stunning landscapes, outdoor recreational opportunities, and rich biodiversity. Payette National Forest encompasses approximately 3 million acres of rugged and diverse terrain. It extends from high alpine mountains to deep canyons and dense forests to open meadows. The forest is characterized by dramatic elevation changes, including peaks that rise well over 10,000 feet, such as Brundage Mountain.

The Payette River Scenic Byway, spanning approximately 112 miles in Idaho, winds along the captivating course of the Payette River. Beginning in Banks, the route unfolds through Cascade's lakeside charm, Smiths Ferry's historic crossing, and the expansive Payette National Forest, offering lush forests and mountain views for hiking and camping. Ponderosa State Park near McCall presents serene trails and wildlife by Payette Lake. Culminating in McCall, this resort town invites visitors to partake in seasonal activities like water skiing, boating, fishing, and hiking, crafting an enchanting journey through Idaho's natural wonders and providing a diverse tapestry of outdoor adventures and scenic vistas along the way.

Payette National Forest in Idaho offers a wide range of trails that traverse its diverse landscapes, including alpine mountains, deep canyons, and lush forests. Embark on an exhilarating exploration through the extensive network of trails that weave through the breathtaking landscapes of Payette National Forest. These trails offer an invitation to discover nature's wonders, ranging from meandering paths within dense forests to panoramic routes revealing stunning vistas of mountains and valleys. Whether seeking a stroll, an invigorating hike, or a thrilling mountain biking adventure, the trails in Payette National Forest cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Get ready to traverse these diverse pathways, where every turn unveils a tapestry of natural beauty and many opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Boulder Lake Trail: A moderately strenuous hike that takes you to the picturesque Boulder Lake. It's known for its wildflower displays in the summer and offers excellent fishing and camping opportunities.

Burgdorf-Payette Trail: This trail is popular among hikers and mountain bikers. It takes you through old-growth forests and offers a chance to soak in Burgdorf's natural hot springs.

Seven Devils Loop: A challenging backpacking trail in the Seven Devils Mountains with dramatic views of Hells Canyon. This loop is famous for its rugged terrain and pristine wilderness.

Snowslide Trail: Ideal for hikers and horseback riders, this trail leads to Snowslide Lake. It's a moderately strenuous hike that rewards you with beautiful alpine scenery.

Loon Lake Trail: This trail leads to Loon Lake, a pristine alpine lake, and is known for its wildflower displays and opportunities for fishing and camping.

Mesa Falls Nature Trail: A family-friendly nature trail that takes you to two stunning waterfalls, Upper Mesa Falls and Lower Mesa Falls, providing excellent photo opportunities. Secesh Trail: A remote and challenging trail that winds through rugged terrain and offers solitude for experienced hikers and backpackers.

Johnson Creek Historic Trail: This trail leads to an old mining town site and offers historical insights into the area's past.

Warm Lake Trail: This relatively easy hike takes you to Warm Lake, which is perfect for a relaxing day by the water or a weekend camping trip.

Payette National Forest in Idaho has numerous beautiful lakes, each offering unique charm and recreational opportunities. Venture to the tranquil and picturesque lakes nestled within the breathtaking expanse of Payette National Forest. Imbued with natural beauty and serene surroundings, these pristine bodies of water offer a quiet escape into the heart of Idaho's wilderness. Each lake within the Payette National Forest boasts unique charm, from crystal-clear waters framed by dense forests to the peaceful ambiance perfect for various recreational activities. Journey to discover these stunning lakes, where the harmony of nature's splendor and the allure of outdoor adventures await every visitor.

Payette Lake: Located near the town of McCall, Payette Lake is one of the largest and most popular lakes in the region. It offers boating, fishing, swimming, and lakeside picnicking. The town of McCall provides easy access to the lake's amenities.

Redfish Lake: Situated within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Redfish Lake is renowned for its stunning alpine setting and crystal-clear waters. It's a hub for outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and water sports. Rugged mountains surround the lake and are the gateway to numerous hiking trails.

Boulder Lake: Nestled in the Boulder Mountains, this high-mountain lake is a popular destination for hikers and anglers. The pristine setting and opportunities for camping make it an ideal spot for those seeking a remote wilderness experience.

Loon Lake: Loon Lake is an alpine gem located near McCall. It's known for its tranquil atmosphere, camping sites, and fishing and paddle sports opportunities. The lake is a favorite among families and those seeking a peaceful getaway.

Warm Lake: This relatively warm lake is perfect for swimming, fishing, and boating. Forested hills surround it, and several campgrounds and cabins provide accommodations for visitors.

Johnson Lake: Located near the Johnson Creek Airstrip, Johnson Lake is a popular spot for anglers and boaters. It's often used as a base camp for exploring the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Chamberlain Lake: Accessible by hiking or horseback riding, Chamberlain Lake is tucked away in the Seven Devils Mountains. It offers a serene and remote backcountry experience. Little Bay Lake: Nestled in the Weitas Creek drainage, this lake is a destination for those looking to escape into the forested backcountry. Hiking is the primary means of reaching this secluded spot.

Hidden Lake: Located near the Burgdorf Hot Springs, Hidden Lake is a peaceful alpine lake that provides a serene setting for hikers and those looking to relax in the hot springs.

Island Lake: Situated in a beautiful cirque basin in the Seven Devils Mountains, Island Lake is popular among hikers and backpackers who explore the rugged terrain surrounding it.

These lakes offer many experiences, from family-friendly activities to remote wilderness adventures. Whether you're interested in water sports, fishing, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of alpine lakes, Payette National Forest has something for everyone.

Venture to Payette National Forest, an outdoor enthusiast's paradise with various recreational activities amidst stunning natural landscapes. Nestled in Idaho's heartland, this diverse forest offers a playground for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Whether you're drawn to hiking, off-roading, camping, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, or simply seeking solitude in nature's embrace, Payette National Forest presents an ideal canvas for unforgettable experiences. With its sparkling lakes, cascading rivers, verdant forests, and mountainous terrain, this enchanting destination invites visitors to partake in many outdoor pursuits, promising endless relaxation and exploration opportunities and creating cherished memories. Take delight in discovering the multitude of activities that await in this wilderness haven, where the splendor of nature meets the thrill of outdoor adventure.

Escape into the serene embrace of Payette National Forest, a haven offering the ultimate retreat for visitors seeking solace and rejuvenation amidst nature's grandeur. Tucked away in the heart of Idaho, this vast expanse of pristine wilderness beckons those yearning for a tranquil getaway. With its towering pine forests, pristine lakes, and meandering rivers, the forest presents a sanctuary where serenity and natural beauty converge. Whether seeking quiet contemplation, thrilling outdoor adventures, or simply a peaceful respite from the bustle of everyday life, Payette National Forest provides the ideal backdrop for an unforgettable retreat under the stars. Explore this tranquil haven, where the symphony of rustling leaves, bubbling streams, and soaring peaks harmonize to create an unparalleled escape into the lap of nature's tranquility.

Numerous campgrounds within the forest provide opportunities for both developed and backcountry camping. Payette National Forest in Idaho provides a variety of campgrounds, offering opportunities for both created and primitive camping experiences.

North Fork Campground: Located near McCall, this campground offers sites for both tents and RVs. It's near Payette Lake and provides access to hiking trails and water activities. Ponderosa State Park: This state park features several campgrounds within walking distance of Payette Lake. It offers a range of amenities, including restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Lake Fork Campground: Situated near McCall, this campground is famous for its proximity to Lake Fork Creek and recreational opportunities like fishing and hiking.

Sylvan Beach Campground: On the shores of Payette Lake, Sylvan Beach Campground offers beautiful lakefront campsites. It's an excellent spot for swimming, fishing, and beach enjoyment.

Sourdough Lodge Campground: Located near the Sourdough Lodge, this campground is famous for its proximity to the Salmon River. It's a good base for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Boulder Lake Campground: Accessible by a rough road, this campground is near the picturesque Boulder Lake. It offers a more rustic camping experience in a remote alpine setting.

Cabin Creek Campground: A primitive campground near the South Fork Salmon River provides a more remote camping experience with access to excellent fishing and wildlife viewing.

Boise Creek Campground: Located in the remote backcountry, this campground is a base camp for hikers and horseback riders exploring the surrounding wilderness.

Johnson Creek Campground: Near Johnson Creek Airstrip, this campground is a gateway for visitors venturing into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Deadwood Reservoir Campgrounds: These campgrounds offer a backcountry experience in a remote alpine setting, with access to the Deadwood Reservoir.

Shellrock Lake Campground: Tucked away in a scenic valley, this campground is a base for hikers and horseback riders exploring the surrounding landscapes.

Herd Lake Campground: Accessible by a challenging trail, Herd Lake Campground offers an authentic wilderness camping experience near Herd Lake.

It's important to note that some campgrounds in Payette National Forest may have limited amenities and fee locations, so visitors should be prepared and pack accordingly. Additionally, some campgrounds require reservations, so checking availability and making reservations in advance is a good idea, especially during peak camping season. Whether prefering developed campgrounds with facilities or more remote and primitive settings, Payette National Forest offers camping options to suit your preferences.

Payette National Forest is renowned for its fishing, with many rivers, lakes, and streams teeming with various fish species. Payette National Forest is home to various fish species, including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, lake trout (mackinaw), kokanee salmon, bull trout, and different whitefish species. The specific fish species you'll find can vary depending on the body of water.

Rivers and streams, such as the Payette River, Salmon River, South Fork Salmon River, and various smaller tributaries crisscross the forest. These waterways offer excellent fishing for trout and other species. Fishermen often visit places like the South Fork Salmon River, Johnson Creek, and Stolle Meadows Reservoir for excellent fishing opportunities. The remote locations of some spots provide a serene angling experience.

Knowing fishing regulations, including catch limits, seasons, and special rules in specific areas. You can obtain these regulations from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Fly fishing is popular in the forest, with opportunities for beginners and experienced fly anglers. The forest's pristine rivers and lakes provide excellent settings for fly fishing. If you're new to the area or fishing, you can opt for guided fishing trips offered by local outfitters and guides. They can help navigate the best spots and provide expertise on local fisheries. Before embarking on a fishing trip in Payette National Forest, you should check current fishing regulations, obtain any necessary permits or licenses, and be aware of seasonal variations that may affect fishing conditions. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice looking for a tranquil fishing experience in a beautiful natural setting, Payette National Forest offers something for all fishing enthusiasts.

Payette National Forest beckons as an exhilarating winter wonderland, inviting avid enthusiasts and extreme sports adventurers to revel in its snowy embrace. Embraced by Idaho's majestic terrain, this forest becomes a playground for winter sports enthusiasts, offering many activities for all skill levels. From traditional skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing to adrenaline-pumping backcountry adventures, the forest's snow-covered landscapes set the stage for unforgettable winter escapades. With its powder-laden slopes, groomed trails, and expansive backcountry terrain, Payette National Forest promises an exhilarating haven for seasoned winter sports enthusiasts and thrill-seekers looking to push their boundaries. Join us as we delve into this snowy paradise, where the magic of winter unfolds, and adventure knows no bounds. During the winter, the forest becomes a playground for skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and other winter sports.

The forest is home to diverse wildlife, including deer, elk, moose, black bears, and numerous bird species. Wildlife enthusiasts have a chance to observe these creatures in their natural habitat. Payette National Forest is an enchanting sanctuary where the wonders of wildlife and birdlife flourish amidst the diverse landscapes of Idaho's wilderness. Spanning across sprawling forests, pristine lakes, and rugged mountains, this forest is a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking glimpses of untamed beauty. Visitors can witness a rich tapestry of wildlife, from majestic elk and deer to elusive black bears and coyotes thriving within their natural habitats. Additionally, the forest hosts a diverse array of bird species, making it a birdwatcher's paradise. With its abundant opportunities for wildlife observation and birdwatching, Payette National Forest invites visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating sights and sounds of the natural world, fostering an appreciation for the incredible biodiversity that graces this pristine landscape. Consider a journey through this remarkable forest, where every encounter with wildlife and birdlife promises an awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience.

Several rivers within the forest, including the Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, have been designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, preserving their natural and scenic qualities. Payette National Forest is a picturesque expanse in Idaho's heart, renowned for its pristine rivers that carve through breathtaking landscapes. These winding waterways offer an idyllic setting for visitors and tourists seeking riverside adventures and tranquil respites. From the meandering banks of the Salmon River to the rushing waters of the Payette River, this forest boasts an array of opportunities for kayaking, rafting, fishing, and serene moments by the water's edge. Whether drawn to the thrill of navigating rapids or the peacefulness of casting a line, Payette National Forest's rivers beckon with their beauty and diversity, promising unforgettable experiences for all who seek to immerse themselves in nature's liquid pathways. Embark on a journey to explore the enchanting rivers that wind through this spectacular forest, offering a gateway to both excitement and serenity amidst the natural splendor of Idaho's waterways.

Payette National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering year-round recreational opportunities and a chance to explore a diverse range of ecosystems, from high mountain peaks to lush valleys. Its natural beauty, extensive trail systems, and various activities make it a popular destination for those seeking to connect with the great outdoors.

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