Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The mountains east of McCall hold several hidden gems of trails to alpine lakes, all within Payette National Forest. Snowslide Lake is one of the shorter options, making an excellent day hike or bite-size overnight trip. What the trail lacks in distance it makes up for elevation, however, climbing about 1300 feet in only a mile and a half.

A sign for Snowslide trailhead marks the parking area along Lick Creek Road. There’s only room for a few cars in the small dirt lot, but you can park along the road if it’s full. You’ll start by rock hopping across a creek, then finding the footpath on the other side. It’s flat for less than a hundred yards, then tips upward and remains pretty steep for most of the way. 

The trail is mostly in the forest, with shade beneath tall pines and spruce. The canopy is rather open, however, and clearings allow for stunning views but also exposure to the sun. In hillside meadows you’ll stand among wildflowers and berry bushes, gazing across a steep-walled valley at granitic peaks on the skyline. You can let the views distract you from the uphill effort, but don’t forget to pay attention to your feet. The trail is quite eroded in places, with loose rocks underfoot. You might get water from a spring that trickles across the trail about ⅓ of the way up, but the real respite comes upon reaching the lake.

On Snowslide’s wooded shore you can choose between sun or shade, relaxing on a log or rock beside the water. Snowslide Peak forms the dramatic backdrop––a triangular mass of vertical rock, perhaps with lingering snow at its base.

The trail continues around one side of the lake, soon reaching an idyllic campsite beneath large conifers. It’s a popular spot to spend the night, so you’ll want to arrive early to snag this prime location. Permits are not needed and camping is at-large, but it’s important to use only sites which are previously established, without increasing impact on surrounding vegetation.

At 7200 feet above sea level, Snowslide is not as cold and clear as some other alpine lakes in Idaho. But its nutrient-rich water supports a lot of fish, as well as frogs and other critters you might find. In addition to exploring the shoreline, you can hike farther along the trail. It continues into an alpine bowl with better views of the peak overhead, and eventually to a pass high above the lake. From there you could keep hiking down to Maki Lake, an even more remote place to fish, swim, or camp for the night.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Secluded lake. Backcountry camping.

Cons

Eroded trail. Limited parking at trailhead.

Trailhead Elevation

5,900.00 ft (1,798.32 m)

Highest point

7,200.00 ft (2,194.56 m)

Features

Family friendly
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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