While in McCall, on two different occasions, the locals mentioned that they hiked to Boulder Lake this week. They were excited to report there was minimal snow at this juncture, Memorial Day Weekend. They seemed so enthusiastic, that I added Boulder Lake, located in the Payette National Forest to my hiking list.
Getting to Boulder Lake
The drive to Boulder Lake passes through beautiful farmland and eventually reaches a narrow dirt road, the width of 1.5 cars. Being in VANgo, I was less than enthusiastic, but I started early enough in the morning, I didn’t run into anyone coming down.
Upon reaching the “parking area” after more wrong directions from Google (which is not that great in McCall), I was even less enthused. Part mud, part snow, and no definitive parking area, I wasn’t even sure what constituted the parking lot. Some of it still looked like the road.
To the right, is Louie Lake Trailhead with a small cul-de-sac parking area for four cars. To the left is Boulder Meadows Reservoir where the Boulder Lake Trailhead begins. The parking is on the side of the road which dead ends into the dam.
The 4-mile hike to Boulder Lake is not on AllTrails, though there is a Boulder Lake Loop Trail which is 6.9 miles. Since I wasn’t sure of the conditions to Louie Lake, I stuck with the shorter hike. Additionally, Annie has slit her back right foot between two pads, thus I’m trying to take it easy.
From reviewing bandaging advice on the internet, technically she is supposed to be immobile for three days. Yeah right! That’s like telling a two-year old to go sit quietly in the corner. I compromised with a four-mile hike on the leash, a bandage, and a bootie.
The Hike to Boulder Lake
Oh, how I wished I could let her run. The rocky and muddy uphill climb would have been much easier if she were not attached to me. In fact, despite there being two lakes and a creek, I can’t say I truly enjoyed this one.
I don’t know if it had to do with Annie or with slogging through mud, water running down the trail, and occasionally searching for the lost trail in the large patches of snow. Under different conditions three week from now, I likely would have loved it.
The Boulder Lake Trail climbs through the forest, and it is the first trail in Idaho where I encountered a series of switchbacks. After going up and down a hundred times in Sun Valley, I was beginning to wonder if the trail builders in Idaho didn’t believe in switchbacks.
This ascent, however, utilized several switchbacks which cut through the rocky terrain. Closer to the Boulder Lake, which I disappointingly found to be another reservoir, required a creek crossing over logs to a snowbank. Thereafter, the trail somewhat dissipated as the area opened up to the reservoir.
We didn’t even stay five minutes at the reservoir before turning around. I didn’t want to post-hole in the snow on the way down. Furthermore, I didn’t want VANgo trapped in the small parking area by Louie Lake Trailhead. Given people in Idaho like to park in your campsite (happened on four occasions), I didn’t have any confidence that if space the filled up, I’d be able to get out.
On the descent, Annie lost her bootie in the mud! Of course, I didn’t notice until later, so there is a day old, red bootie somewhere near Boulder Lake, as I wasn’t slogging my way back up there. They came in a package of four, so I have three left. Fingers crossed that she doesn’t lose them all!
Overall, I can’t complain. The hike was good, and once again I only saw about ten people on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend…remarkable! ETB