Lick Creek Mountains Hikes
Distance: 8.5 miles roundtrip
Location: Drive 6 miles west of McCall on State Highway 55, bearing right onto Forest Road (FR) 257. Continue 3 miles, then bear left and continue north on FR 257 leading to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort. After traveling 3 more miles, stay to the left at the Y-junction and continue on FR 257. Pass Hard Creek Guard Station and Hazard Lake Campground, reaching the Clayburn Trailhead after traveling a total of 26 miles from McCall.
Hike into solitude along this trail that climbs deep into the mountains and offers an occasional glimpse of wildlife. Beginning at the Clayburn Trailhead, ignore Trail 347 and hike 100 yards down to the Trail 505 junction heading east. While Trail 505 is faint in places, hikers can head east to Clayburn Creek and locate the trail again at the creek crossing. From the creek, climb up to the basaltic and granite Lava Ridge and view Seven Devils’ peaks distantly rising above the Rapid River, Little Salmon River, and Salmon River, as well as Patrick Butte and portions of the Gospel Hump area. At Lava Ridge, proceed left on Trail 149 and descend 4.2 miles to Lava Lakes. Hikers should note that topographic/trail maps of the area are outdated. Best months for hiking are mid-July through mid-September.
Loon Lake Loop
Winding along the Secesh River through trees and huckleberry patches, this trail ultimately brings hikers to the famous Loon Lake set amidst rugged mountain peaks. Loon Lake is best known for saving the lives of a bomber crew in February 1943. Flying from Nevada to Idaho’s Mountain Home Air Force base in a snowstorm, the pilot became disoriented and soon realized the plane was running out of gas. As the pilot pointed the nose downwards, Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains appeared in front of him and it seemed that the flight was doomed. At the last possible moment, though, a large field surrounded by mountain peaks and trees emerged, and the crew landed with no serious injuries. This field was actually the frozen Loon Lake, and the aviators found their own trail back to civilization. Today, hikers will walk in several of the same areas as these brave men. To begin the hike, follow Trail 080 3.5 miles to a junction near the Secesh River bridge crossing. After crossing the bridge and merging onto Trail 084, continue to the right and avoid an abandoned trail leaving to the left. Upon reaching a junction for Trails 084 and 080, proceed left 0.25 miles to another junction. Going left on Trail 081 takes hikers to Loon Lake’s outlet while proceeding right on Trail 084 takes hikers around the lakes north side. To make the return loop and head up Loon Creek Canyon, hikers should proceed 0.3 miles to the head of Loon Lake and then turn right onto Trail 081. Continuing through both burned and unburned forest areas, the trail descends to the Victor Creek bridge crossing. Just past the bridge is a three-way trail junction. Proceed 3 miles along the right trail back to Chinook Campground. Best months for hiking are late June through September, but September offers cooler temperatures, fewer insects, and more colorful foliage.
Boulder-Louie Lakes Loop
Surrounded by wildlife, forests, and wildflower-covered meadows, this trail climbs up numerous switchbacks, leading hikers to popular fishing lakes as well as offering views of Jughandle Mountain. From the trailhead, hike 2 miles along Trail 105 to the natural Boulder Lake. Travel along the lake’s south shore for approximately 0.2 miles and reach a stone-marked fork in the road. Take the right fork and climb along a ridge just east of the Twin Peaks, reaching the glacial Louie Lake in 2.8 miles. From here, proceed 0.8 mile on a jeep road, then bear right onto the main trail. Continue 0.4 miles back to the trailhead. Best months for hiking are July through late September.
Optional Hikes: Continue 0.3 miles beyond Boulder Lake to reach the trail junction of Paddy Flat and Kennally Creek (0.1 mile past the stone-marked trail leading to Louie Lake). To discover several alpine lakes set amidst rugged granite peaks, continue on the 20-mile long Kennally Creek Trail. This trail is moderately difficult, and best months for hiking are July through early September.
This trail takes hikers through rugged, glacier carved granite peaks before ending at one of Lick Creek Mountains’ largest lakes. From the trailhead, proceed northwest on Trail 110 next to Black Lee Creek under fir and spruce tree branches. At 1.6 miles, ford Black Lee Creek, then continue 1.1 miles to an overlook area of Box Lake. Hike another 0.5 miles and Box Lake’s shores will appear. To reach the lake’s outlet area and Box Lake Creek’s beginning, continue 0.8 miles where visitors will find an old dam and a rocky beach area. Best months for hiking are August through mid-September. The trail can be reached as early as late June, but hikers will wade through snow and fording Black Lake Creek will be extremely difficult.
This rocky trail winds up the rugged mountains to the remote Snowslide Lake. Best months for hiking are July through mid-September as Lake Fork Creek’s water levels make fording the creek dangerous during late spring and early summer months.
Duck Lake and Surrounding Area
This trail provides families with perfect wildlife viewing opportunities of deer, elk, and ducks. Leading to Duck Lake, the trail crosses vast meadows, and Duck Lake offers mediocre fishing potential. Best months for hiking are June through August.
Optional Hikes: Directly below Duck Lake, locate Trail 083 leading to Hum Lake. This trail is much more difficult than the path to Duck Lake as the trail quickly climbs 1,000 feet to a mountain ridge, then steeply descends 1,000 feet to Hum Lake. Along the path, hikers have outstanding vistas of the surrounding mountains and of both Duck Lake and Hum Lake.