Ponderosa State Park

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Dom, Sue and I took the “scenic” drive through Ponderosa State Park one evening while visiting McCall, Idaho.  I put “scenic” in quotes because while the park is located on a peninsula in Payette Lake, all we could see were trees.  There was nothing scenic about it except the plethora of deer.

deer at ponderosa state park

Views Around Payette Lake

Having previously sifted through AllTrails, however, I knew there were some trails with nice views according to the reviews.  I really wanted to enjoy some views around Payette Lake which are difficult to find as most of the lake, aside from the North Shore, is surrounded by private property or camps.  The exception is a small parking area by a waterfall which has a very short trail that leads out to a rocky point.

view at payette lake

I camped here my first night in McCall, but after having visitors at 8pm at night and 8am the next morning, I found a different, not so great location where someone else joined me?!?  In the 20 year-olds’ defense, they tried their best to park 15 feet away.  I suppose they just wanted to enjoy the view too.  It was just unusual to me as I’ve never parked in someone’s dispersed camping location.

Hiking Payette Lake Peninsula Trail in Ponderosa State Park

Anyway, I was intent on walking along the lake shore, so I revisited Ponderosa State Park.  It ended up being a great visit, not specifically for the hike, but for taking advantage of the campground shower and the dump station water pump to fill my water tank all for the $7 entrance fee!

The hike on the Payette Lake Peninsula Trail, approximately five miles roundtrip, was also nice, though I wouldn’t characterize it as a hike.  It was more like a walk in the park with only 121 feet of elevation gain.  I had to laugh at the reviewer on AllTrails that said there was just enough incline to get your heart rate up.  I wondered to myself, where?

So, the trailhead is located across the street from the activity center.  The paved path loops around the campground and then parallels the lake shore.  It wends through tall stands of pines with sunrays peeping through as the morning fogs lifts.  Occasionally, hikers will find openings to beach areas and views, though the beaches are off limits to dogs

peninsula trail at ponderosa state park

The paved trail gives way to a gravel path for a while and for a moment follows the road.  It passes a few parking areas as well.  In fact, to cut out the beginning inland portion around the campground, it is best to park in one of these areas and shorten the hike to three or four miles. The end of the Peninsula Trail leads users up a small incline to a view. 

I general, this trail in Ponderosa State Park was way too commercialized for me, but many state parks are like that in my opinion.  This is a perfect trail for a tourist who just wants a stroll, as they can turn around at any time. It was a good lowkey walk for me and Annie as I wait for her foot to heal.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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