Recreation Activites

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Summer Recreation
ATV/UTV Riding

If off-road riding is what you are after, Valley County is sure to impress. With hundreds of forest service roads, day rides, and multi-day trip options, you will never run out of road. Trails range from beginner to expert and wind along rivers and streams, through lush meadows, and through old growth forests.

Off-Highway Vehicle (ATV | UTV) Safety

Valley County has plenty of recreation opportunities for your vacation needs. As with all recreation sports there is a level of risk associated with it, and the Valley County Sheriff’s Office takes the enforcement of these laws seriously. We also have outreach events to help make the public aware of the applicable laws that apply to these summertime sports. Check out these important laws you need to know before operating your Off-Highway Vehicle in Idaho. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

In Idaho, all OHV operators are encouraged to complete an OHV safety education course before operating on public lands, roads or trails. All riders in Idaho who are under the age of 16 must be under direct supervision of an adult when operating on non-local jurisdiction roads. Online Course Information.

Before you head out to the trails, here are 10 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t ride cross-country – stay on established trails Cross-country travel can increase soil erosion, ignite wildfire, spread noxious weeds and damage wildlife habitat
  2.  Always ride in control Ride within your abilities and your machine’s capabilities. Never attempt anything that is beyond your skill level.
  3. Always wear the appropriate safety gear At a minimum, this should include a helmet, shatter resistant eye protection, long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and boots that cover the ankle.
  4. Only carry passengers if your OHV is specifically designed to do so ATVs and off-road motorcycles are generally designed to carry only one rider. Carrying passengers can alter the balance of the machine, causing a loss of control.
  5. Riders under the age of 16 should be supervised by a responsible adult at all times
  6. Be prepared for an emergency Always carry a tool kit and spare parts, a first aid kit, and survival equipment when you ride.
  7. Respect closed areas and private property The future for OHV access is in your hands.
  8. Avoid wet areas and waterways They are a vital resource for plants and animals.
  9. Don’t cut switchbacks Taking shortcuts damages trails and causes erosion.
  10. Share the trails and make friends with other trail users Stop or slow down and lower the noise and dust levels when approaching equestrians, hikers and others.

ATV | UTV Quick Links:


More than 300 lakes and four major river drainage’s within a 20 mile radius make this area heaven on earth for anglers. Equally rewarding fishing for trout, salmon, steelhead, perch and smallmouth bass can be found in rivers, reservoirs and alpine lakes throughout the region. Here are a few of our favorite areas:

Fishing Seasons & Rules | Idaho Fish & Game

License, Tag, and Permit Buying Options | Idaho Fish and Game 

Explore Valley County Water Recreation References

Boating & Water Recreation map application was created to stream information to the public, including boating references, no-wake zones and parks or campsites around Cascade & Payette Lakes.

Payette Lake and Lake Cascade

At 5,300 acres, Payette Lake boasts three species of trout: rainbow, cutthroat and lake trout, as well as Kokanee. Downstream lies Lake Cascade, a 28,000-acre reservoir with a diverse fishery, including small mouth bass, rainbow trout, Kokanee, Coho salmon, crappie and yellow perch. 

Payette National Forest

Boise National Forest:  Cascade Ranger District

The Salmon River System

In the many famous forks of the Salmon River, you’ll enjoy excellent fishing for beautiful west slope cutthroat trout, as well as Chinook salmon (summer) and steelhead (spring and fall). Popular forks of the Salmon include the South Fork, East Fork of the South Fork, Middle Fork, as well as important tributaries like the Little Salmon, and Big Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area.

Hells Canyon of the Snake River

Northwest of Valley County lies the deepest river gorge in North America (deeper than even the Grand Canyon of the Colorado). Hells Canyon offers fishing for salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, as well as catch & release fishing for enormous white sturgeon, up to 10 feet or more in length.

Alpine Lakes

While many of the 300 alpine lakes require a hike, most will find it well worth the effort. Grab your float tube and go prospecting for will rainbows and cutthroats in some of the most breathtaking mountain settings in the Pacific Northwest. For more information on rules and regulations for this region, just contact Idaho Fish and Game’s Information office at (208) 634-8137.


The hiking possibilities in the area are, in a word, endless. From a casual stroll to a multi-day trip, trails offer something for every ability and mood. Here are a few of our favorites:

Valley County Pathways Summer Trails

Payette River Basin Water Trailes

Cascade Ranger District

Payette Nation Forest

Payette National Forest Trail Status Map

This map displays the Maintenance Status of Trails on the Payette National Forest for the current calendar year. This map is updated on a regular basis, but users should note that trail conditions can and do change rapidly. Know Before You Go, and check in with a local Ranger District Office before finalizing your plans.

Eagle Nest Trail (Easy to Moderate)

Turn right onto FH 22 (Warm Lake Hwy) from Hwy 55(0.5 miles north of Cascade) and travel approx. 11.5 miles to a marked FSR 497. Turn left and travel for 1.8 miles until you reach signed trailhead indicating Crawford GS 14 miles. Although there has been logging activity and a fire on sections of this trail, it is still relatively easy to follow. It becomes difficult in at least two sections where the trail is easy to lose due to grassy areas with little to no trees, but as long as you keep Horsethief Reservoir and the Cascade Valley to you left (east) and stay on top of the ridge, you’ll be fine. There are four areas that require water crossings which might make bike and horse travel difficult.

Blue Lake Walking Trail (Easy)

Take Cabarton Road (south end of Cascade) for about 6.3 miles until you come to a large red barn where Cabarton Road intersects with Snowbank Road #446 (close Nov. 16 – May 31) turn right onto Snowbank Road #446 (sign indicating Blue Lake 10 miles) follow #446 to within 2 miles of the Federal Radar Site. You can see Blue Lake to the south. There is a large parking area at the Blue Lake Trail #119 trailhead. This is an easy part-day or overnight hike into one of Idaho’s pristine mountain lakes. While there is no question you’re in the high country, it is a hike even young children can enjoy. The trail levels out midsection, meandering through meadows filled with wildflowers. There are several stream crossings and, depending on the time of year, occasional waterfalls cascade down the hillsides.

Crown Point Trail (Easy)

Turn off Hwy 55 on the Lake Way Road (north Cascade) and follow .5 mile to Crown Point parking area. Park car and ride to trailhead next to Crown Point Camping Area. This picturesque 2.6-mile stretch of land is easy access to all ages of hikers and bicycle riders. No motorized vehicles are allowed. Several spots along the way provide easy access to the sandy beaches along the shores of the lake for fishing, picnicking or sunning.

East Fork Lake Fork Creek (Moderate)

This is a good one-mile hike for kids along the creek where there are interesting rocks to climb and a few hidden fishing

Louie Lake & Jughandle Mountain (Easy)

(Trail #085 and Trail #082) Duck Lake is a short hike of approximately 2 miles round trip. It has little elevation gain and makes an ideal hike for most ages and abilities. Hum Lake trail takes off from Duck Lake and is a three-mile one-way hike with about a mile of steep grade. It takes hikers over a ridge, into a meadow and to the glacial Hum Lake.

Twin Lakes (Easy)

(Trail #165) This trail involves a 1-mile walk up to the Twin Lakes. It climbs steadily but not steeply for an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Fishing is good, however the lake is subject to drawdown at the dam so you will want to go early in the season. It’s a fun place to take the kids for a picnic.

Hazard Lake (Moderate)

(Trail #169) There are three Hazard Lakes: Hazard Lake, Upper Hazard Lake and Big Hazard Lake. All three are popular fishing lakes. The one-half mile walk to Big Hazard Lake is flat and suitable for most people. The trail to Upper Hazard Lake is a bit more strenuous covering 2 miles and gains about 348′ in elevation.

Twenty Mile (Moderate)

(Trail #085) This trail winds for six miles through the burn of the 1994 Corral/Blackwell fires and takes hikers to the Twentymile Lakes. The first three miles of the trail are relatively flat, then climbs steeply for the last three miles.

Duck Lake & Ham Lake (Moderate)

(Trail #085 and Trail #082) Duck Lake is a short hike of approximately 2 miles round trip. It has little elevation gain and makes an ideal hike for most ages and abilities. Hum Lake trail takes off from Duck Lake and is a three-mile one-way hike with about a mile of steep grade. It takes hikers over a ridge, into a meadow and to the glacial Hum Lake.

Goose Creek Falls (Easy)

(Trail #354) In a little over a mile, this trail takes hikers to Goose Creek and the waterfall. The first portion of the trail goes steadily downhill until it reaches Goose Creek Bridge and is not recommended for small children. Unlike most trails which gain elevation, Goose Creek Falls Trail starts at 5760′ and drops to 5080′.

Box Lake (Moderate)

(Trail #110) The starting elevation is 5680′ with an elevation gain of 1863′ and a 343′ drop from a ridge to the lake. This trail is 3.5 miles long and suggested as an overnight hike for many people especially if you plan on fishing and swimming. The trail switchbacks 800 feet in the first mile and continues to be steep for another mile.

Mountain Biking

If mountain biking is your thing, the area’s trails will keep you inspired and exhilarated. The local experts can help you find that dream trailhead, and keep in mind that Brundage Mountain offers lift-served mountain biking in the summer – enjoy the great views from the lift on the way up and your choice of knuckle-whitening or relaxing family fun trails on the way down. The mountain also offers scenic chair lift rides for those who’d rather not two-wheel it down the mountain.

Payette National Forest Trail Status Map

This map displays the Maintenance Status of Trails on the Payette National Forest for the current calendar year. This map is updated on a regular basis, but users should note that trail conditions can and do change rapidly. Know Before You Go, and check in with a local Ranger District Office before finalizing your plans.

Hundreds of trails are waiting for you to explore – and more are built each year thanks to the dedicated volunteers, businesses, and organizations like the Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association. 

Payette National Forest

Valley County Pathways Summer Trails

And if you can’t give up your bike when the snow starts to fly, you won’t want to miss the chance to try the newest craze, fat bikes. These mountain bikes with wide tires allow for trail riding when conditions are wet and muddy or snow covered. Many Nordic areas allow fat bike riding on groomed trails during the winter months, but be sure to check first to learn about the specific policies of each trail. Gravity Sports in McCall also offers rentals and demos of fat bikes.

Bosie National Forest

Boise National Forest

Mountain Biking Quick Links:

Rock Climbing

While still a relatively yet-to-be-discovered pastime in Valley County, the area boasts some spectacular rock climbing areas that not only challenge your skill, but also offer big rewards in the form of amazing views when you make it to the top. The most popular climbs focus on the Gold Fork Pins and the Needles areas.

Payette National Forest Trail Status Map

This map displays the Maintenance Status of Trails on the Payette National Forest for the current calendar year. This map is updated on a regular basis, but users should note that trail conditions can and do change rapidly. Know Before You Go, and check in with a local Ranger District Office before finalizing your plans.

Payette National Forest Backpacking Areas

Payette National Forest Day Hiking Areas


Our surrounding mountains are legendary for the yearly hunting trips and the great tales of adventures of the hunt around the fire afterward.  In Valley County, there are seasons for black bear, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, deer, antelope and upland game birds. A lot of the game is easily accessible requiring a little amount of travel, and guided trips into the wilderness area are always an option. There are different areas and weeks for archery, rifle, shotgun and muzzleloader.

Our local Fish and Game Department can assist you with any questions, and most of our retailers sell tags as well as any equipment you may need.

Seasons & Rules

Big Game Upland Game, Furbearer & Turkey
Moose, Bighorn Sheep & Mountain Goat Migratory Game Bird

Hunter’s Education

Hunter’s education courses prevent accidents and save lives. Since states have begun requiring hunter education, over the last 30 years hunting incidents have drastically decreased, while the number of hunters has increased. Today, hunting is one of the safest outdoor activities you can enjoy.

All states and provinces that have mandatory hunter education requirements will accept Idaho Hunter Education certifications. Likewise, Idaho will accept hunter education certifications that are issued by other states and provinces that meet official IHEA-USA requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”). Hunter’s Education is a requirement to purchase a hunting license in Idaho if you were born after January 1, 1975. Minimum age to take Hunter’s Education is 10.

Online Certification Information

Lake Sports

You can swim, sail, water-ski, jet-ski, canoe, or kayak; we all share in our love of our beautiful mountain lakes! Several regattas are held during the summer and there are excellent facilities for launching and docking your boat. Payette Lake, Cascade Lake and Warm Lake, three of the most scenic lakes in Idaho, are just a short drive apart and provide endless options for lake fun.

Lake cruises are also available and provide a perfect way to spend an evening – cruise the lakes in luxury as you watch the sun set and enjoy refreshments!

In addition to the larger motorized lakes, Valley County is home to over 300 alpine lakes. Most are accessibly only by foot or mountain bike and are stocked with prize trout.

Explore Valley County Water Recreation References

Boating & Water Recreation map application was created to stream information to the public, including boating references, no-wake zones and parks or campsites around Cascade & Payette Lakes.

Lake Quick Links:

Rafting, Kayaking, & Canoeing

Payette River Basin Water Trails

Water trails are boat routes suitable for canoes, rafts, paddleboards, kayaks, and motorized watercraft. Like pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle trails, water trails are recreational corridors between destinations.

Water trail amenities include boat launches, day-use sites, fishing access, and camping areas.

The Payette River Water Trails vary from short routes along river sections to loops around lakes; from relaxing flatwater to intense rapids and whitewater.

Rafting and kayaking is a staple in Valley County. With some of the highest rated whitewater in the country, along with several calm stretches for those looking for an easy afternoon float, there is ample water to challenge the adventurer in everyone.

Choose from a guided trip (complete with equipment and lunch) or strike out on your own. Raft rentals are available from several companies throughout the area – just be sure you keep water safety a top priority!

The whitewater adventure season typically runs from late spring to early fall depending on the water levels.

And don’t miss Kelly’s Whitewater Park, the first of its kind in Idaho! A whitewater playground for kayakers, canoers, rafters, tubers and stand up paddle boarders, this park set in the heart of Cascade, Idaho, stretches 1,800 feet along the Payette River.

Explore Valley County Water Recreation References

Boating & Water Recreation map application was created to stream information to the public, including boating references, no-wake zones and parks or campsites around Cascade & Payette Lakes.

Boise Nationa Forest:  Cascade Ranger District

Payette National Forest

Rafting | Kayaking Quick Links:


If golfing is part of your summer itinerary, you’ll be enchanted and challenged by the region’s six impressive courses. McCall Municipal Course provides 27 stimulating holes in an affable atmosphere for every level of golfer.  Jug Mountain Ranch was ranked Second Best New Public Course in America by Golf Digest in 2008. The prestigious Whitetail Club and Resort offers an inspiring mountain masterpiece,   MeadowCreek Resort in New Meadows brings brilliant play and ample friendliness, and the Cascade Golf Course offers nine holes of stunning links with views of Cascade Lake from every tee.

All six courses offer plenty of challenge, unbeatable natural beauty, and great dining options. One look at the surroundings towering pines, aspens and birch, rolling meadows and snow-capped mountain vistas – and you will realize you could only be in incredible Idaho. And you’ll be amazed by just how great the golfing is here in the Heartland!


A favorite “sport” for locals and visitors alike is foraging for local delicacies including morel mushrooms and huckleberries.

There is a short window of opportunity for morel hunters as the weather starts to warm up (typically at the end of May). When collecting, it’s best to use a mesh bag so as you carry your find through the woods, you drop spores along the way for next years’ crop. Be educated about what you are picking because there are poisonous mushrooms out there as well!

Idaho’s official state berries are ripe for the picking from late July into August, so grab some while hiking the area mountains…or head to local restaurants to sample these delicious huckleberries in everything from pancakes to cocktails.

Waterways Ordinance Info


DOWNLOAD A GEO-REFERENCED PDF (for use in apps like Avenza)  Know before you go! Valley County has a new waterways ordinance that all lake users should be aware of. What does this ordinance include?

  • Establishes a 300-feet no wake zone for all lakes in Valley County (Payette Lake, Little Payette Lake, Lake Cascade, Deadwood Reservoir, Horsethief Reservoir and Warm Lake.
  • Some exceptions apply on Lake Cascade in the Boulder Creek, Gold Fork and Lake Fork Arms as well as around islands in both Lake Cascade and Payette Lake.
  • Sets 12 years old as the minimum age to operate a vessel under 15 horsepower.
  • Sets 16 years old as the minimum age to operate a vessel over 15 horsepower or personal watercrafts (jet skis). Operators can be 14 years of age if they have attained an Idaho Boater Education Card or 12 years old if under the direct supervision of an adult.

General Boating Etiquette:

  • Steer clear of all other lake users (motorized and non-motorized), docks and shorelines.
  • Keep music volume down, especially near homes.
  • Never follow behind another boat or wake-jump, especially when a boat is towing a skier, tuber, boarder or surfer.  This includes personal watercraft (jet skis).
  • Limit repetitive passes along shorelines or near docks.
  • When pulling a tube, do not make erratic turns near other boaters.
  • Obey no-wake zones. Generally speaking, all Valley County lakes and reservoirs have a 300-foot no-wake zone.
  • Be efficient, especially when loading and unloading boats at community ramps during this busy weekend.
  • Give respect and get respect. We are all out here to enjoy this beautiful place safely!

Winter Recreation


Nearly 500 miles of groomed trails provide access to thousands of acres of off-trail riding in northern Valley County. Riders of all abilities can find open play areas offering gentle slopes, as well as challenging hillsides to tempt even the most adventurous of the “high-markers”. The diversity of terrain has earned Valley County as one of the top 10 snowmobile destinations in the Northwest by SnoWest Magazine.

Fire up your sled and explore the groomed trails, breathtaking bowls and more back country powder than you can cover in a lifetime. Rentals are available from several area businesses.

It is important to note that all snowmobilers must have a current Idaho State registration and a valid drivers license to operate on groomed trails (see equipment requirements under Rules of the Road.) Registration stickers may be purchased at snowmobile dealerships, county offices and the Idaho State Parks and Recreation office. Sticker sales help to fund the massive grooming effort that makes Valley County one of the premier riding destinations!

Snowmobile Quick Links:

Snowmobile Safety

Valley County is ranked 5th in the nation as a destination spot for snowmobiles, skiers, and snowshoer's. Idaho and Valley County host more groomed snowmobile trails then any other Western State. The Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with the United States Forest Service provides avalanche assessment of the snow conditions in Valley County. Check out the current conditions at the Boise and Payette National Forest Avalanche Center. Also see Safe Riders the snowmobile safety awareness website.

We want all winter recreation users to make sure they have to proper gear with them. Please remember snow safety and to travel in pairs at least. We hope all recreationists wear an Avalanche Transponder

Check out this link for information regarding laws and requirements of Snowmobile operation. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Avalanche Awareness for Snowmobilers.

Skiing & Snowboarding

Discover some of the finest powder in the United States. With an annual snowfall of approximately 300 inches, the Valley County is home to some of the finest alpine skiing in the Northwest. Area ski resorts boast a combined 2,600 skiable acres featuring vertical drops ranging from 1,800 to 2,800 feet. Spend a day cat skiing or boarding and you will have access to over 20,000 acres of unbelievable snow.

Tamarack Resort

Located just south of Donnelly, Idaho, Tamarack Resort serves up over 2,800 feet of vertical. Explore the mountain terrain on smooth groomers, deep stashes of powder, and ample tree glades that will leave you wanting more. Lifts turn seven-days-a-week 9am – 4pm.

Brundage Mountain Resort

Located high in the mountains of Central Idaho north of McCall, Brundage Mountain is best known for its powder-packed glades and luxuriously wide groomed runs. Blessed with over 320 base area inches of snowfall annually, Brundage has an undisputed reputation for the Best Snow in Idaho. Lifts turn daily from 9:30am – 4:30pm.

The Little Ski Hill

Built in 1937 as a winter diversion for local forest workers, the Little Ski Hill has served the region’s youth and skiing community for over 75 years. Located two miles north of McCall, Idaho on highway 55, this small but action-packed facility has an alpine hill served by a T-bar providing 405 vertical feet of terrain which is the only lit ski and snowboard hill in the area. Please visit their website for daily hours of operation.

Nordic Skiing & Snowshoeing

Do you prefer groomed trails?  They are more than abundant and diverse in levels, from leisurely to full-on expert runs.  Do you like to strike out and make your own trail?  We have the terrain, and we have the equipment, just in case you forgot yours!  All of our Nordic areas also play host to miles of snowshoe trails – or you can strike out on your own just about anywhere. The scenery is worth the effort!

Nordic | Snowshoe Quick Links:

Valley County Pathways Winter Trails

Ponderosa & Lake Cascade State Park - Cross Country Skiing

Ponderosa & Lake Cascade State Park - Snowshoeing

Winter Family Fun

Looking to take the family on an outing this winter? Valley County has numerous activities perfect for keeping the entire gang entertained. Hit up the local sledding hot spots like the Cascade Golf Course, Legacy Park in McCall, or the Activity Barn which features a lift-serviced tubing hill (complete with rentals!).

Ice skating is also a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the winter months. Cascade Lake, Payette Lake, and Little Payette Lake offer adventurous skating options OR head to the indoor skating rink at the Manchester Ice Center where you can enjoy daily open skate time, hockey games, ice skating lessons, equipment rentals, and a hot cup of hot chocolate.

For a truly unique experience, we recommend booking a sleigh ride to feed the elk. Offering a unique, up-close-and-personal view of the stunning Rocky Mountain Elk that inhabit the area, the elk ride takes you right into the heart of an elk herd that winters near Donnelly, Idaho.

Family Fun Quick Links:

Hot Springs

Is there anyone who doesn’t love to soak in the rich minerals of a hot springs while gazing at the evening sky? Year-round enjoyment and awesome hot springs are just a short drive away after that day of skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or summer hiking! A must-do, must-experience part of your adventure in Valley County!

Established hot springs include Gold Fork Hot Springs, Burgdorf Hot Springs, and Zim’s Plunge. The area is also home to numerous “wild” springs that require a bit more effort to access. Most are accessible after a short hike and afford private soaking in some of the most scenic areas around.

General Information
Valley County Recreation Director
Larry Laxson
Recreation Planner
Dave Bingaman
Recreation Coordinator
Danny Amen