Payette Scenic Drives

For a relaxing afternoon, why not leave the confines of paved streets and try one or more of the scenic back roads in Idaho's Heartland? Valley, Adams, and Idaho counties are crisscrossed with an abundance of delightful country roads. Although pavement is a rarity on these country drives, they are well signed and traveled.

The following roads should be in good shape during dry weather in the summer months. Take a Boise or Payette National Forest Travel Plan to avoid a wrong turn. It also would be a good idea to call or visit the local District Ranger's office in advance of your trip to get the latest update on road conditions.

Cascade Loop Drive
Start at the Cascade City Park on the shores of Cascade Reservoir and take a clockwise tour around the long lake. The route is well marked and follows the shoreline north along West Mountain Road to the Tamarack Falls Store, then turns east over a series of bridges to the town of Donnelly and returns to Idaho highway 55. A word to the wise: The roads on the east side of the reservoir from both Donnelly and Cascade do not intersect.

Warm Lake to Yellow Pine
Destination is Yellow Pine, a backcountry town that is a gateway to the River of No-Return Wilderness. Take the Warm Lake road to Landmark, then follow the winding road along Johnson Creek to Yellow Pine. To make it a return loop, leave Yellow Pine on the East Fork of the South Fork of the South Fork Salmon River Road and then turn back towards Warm Lake and Cascade as it meets the South Fork of the Salmon River.

Gold Fork Loop
Head north from Cascade on Idaho 55 and just over Little Donner Summit, look for a dirt road to the east. Follow Flat Creek Road until it crosses the Gold Fork River, then north to the historic town of Roseberry. Idaho 55 and Donnelly are just two miles to the west.

Red Ridge Drive
Take the dirt road behind the Little Ski Hill lodge, crossing Rock Flat until you see a junction at the top of Red Ridge. Follow the ridge road, (a great view of Long Valley, McCall to Cascade), to No Business Lookout, then follow signs on to Donnelly.

North Fork Payette River Drive
Go west of Donnelly to Rainbow Point, then head north instead of going to No Business Lookout. The road winds through sparse ranch land and parallels the river along the west side of the valley connecting with the Rio Vista Subdivision on the west side of McCall.

Payette Lake Loop
There are picnic sites on this route that follows Warren Wagon Road on the west side of the lake several miles past North Beach. Beyond the beach, the route then crosses the Payette River and follows the East Lake Road back to its junction with Lick Creek Road. The road passes the McCall City Golf Course and back to the center of town.

Lick Creek to Summit Lake
Follow the signs from McCall to Ponderosa State Park, turning east on Lick Creek Road at the golf course. The road soon climbs steeply, but quickly into the high alpine terrain of Lick Creek Summit and Summit Lake. If you care to continue, it wiggles its way all the way to Yellow Pine, a distance of 65 miles.

Upper Payette Lake to Warren
Follow Warren Wagon Road from McCall and it will take you to the historic gold mining town of Warren, about 35 miles from McCall. Popular stops along the way include Upper Payette Lake, a side trip to Burgdorf Hot Springs, and the Secesh River. The road is paved to the Burgdorf junction.

Brundage Mountain to Goose Lake
Follow the signs west of McCall from Idaho 55 to the Brundage Mountain Ski Area. A good quality road continues on to the Hazard Lakes, with junctions to a number of scenic destinations including Brundage Reservoir, Goose, and Granite lakes.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 10 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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