McCall Hiking at Brundage Mountain
Brundage Mountain is a beautiful place to explore on foot, with hiking options to fit every level of fitness and ambition. South Lodge Lane offers 3.1 miles of hiking from the summit (or hike up AND down for a 6.2 mile adventure). For a shorter but still stunning hike on the summit, try our Hidden Valley Overlook trail, which is 2/3 of a mile out and back.
There’s a 4.7 mile loop you can take from the base area to mid-mountain and back, OR, take a leisurely one-mile jaunt on the base-area Nature Trail for a warm up or to get little ones in the habit of hiking and enjoying the forest. Learn more below about our McCall hiking options.
- Base Area Nature Trail
Base Area Nature Trail – 1 mile
Our 1-mile nature trail winds through the forest for a mixture of shade and open vistas. This is a gently rolling trail, which takes about a half an hour to complete at a moderate pace. It’s a perfect loop for families just getting their little ones into hiking. In addition to beautiful views of the Goose Creek drainage, you’ll see peek-a-boo views of the Brundage ski slopes. There are a few nice places to ‘pull off’ and rest for a while, including our beautiful new ‘selfie bench’ at the big mossy tree.
The trail is well marked, the trail head takes off from the West end of our upper parking lot. If you need help finding it, stop by the FallLine Shop on the second floor of the lodge. It’s open seven days a week and our friendly store staff is always happy to help point you in the right direction!
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Base Area Hiking Options
Multi-Use Trails Offer a Multitude of Options
While the base-area Nature Trail is dedicated to hikers only, there are several other ways to enjoy the shady beauty of the base area while giving yourself a longer hike.
The Greenhorn, Hammerhead and Thorn Creek trails were built for XC Mountain Bikers, but these trails are equally as charming for those exploring on foot. You can find the Greenhorn Trail at the West End of the Main Parking Lot, right next to the Nature Trail entrance.
This set of trails is dog-friendly, but please be aware that deer fawn and calves frequent this area (see deer track below) so dogs MUST be leashed for everyone’s safety.
Greenhorn is a relatively flat trail, which switches back through a mostly-shaded forest.
After about a mile, the trail crosses over the entrance road and offers an option to take a loop on Hammerhead, or veer left onto Thorn Creek.
The Thorn Creek option creates a nearly 3-mile hike, adding in Hammerhead brings the round-trip described here up to 3.5 miles.
Both Hammerhead and Thorn Creek are mostly shaded and relatively flat trails, lined with huckleberry bushes.
The Thorn Creek section is especially calming and cool, between the gurgle of the creek and the lush greenery surrounding it.
The Thorn Creek section ends at a spot that will look familiar to our winter visitors. It meets Black Bear at the bottom of the Bear and Centennial Chairlifts. (Black Bear is the solid blue line on the map above).
Most people will choose to head left or North at this point, back up toward the lower parking lot, and eventually to the main lodge area.
Those interested in a longer hike can turn right and head up Black Bear for a longer loop or even explore the Growler trail, which offers some lovely south-facing views. Please be aware that the trails on this loop are also open to mountain bikers and dogs are NOT allowed on Growler or any of the ‘mountain’ trails, only the flatter, base area trails.
- Short but Stunning Hike to Hidden Valley Overlook
From the top of the Bluebird Express, turn left (North) and look for the trailhead sign just beyond the Ski Patrol HQ Cabin. This short trail (.3 miles each way) is a short hike with huge rewards.
Enjoy views of Hidden Valley, Granite Mountain, and the Seven Devils to the North, the Salmon River Mountains to the East and the Payette Lakes to the Southeast…all from one gorgeous spot!
- Lookout Trail = Easy Access to the Best View of the Valley
Stroll To the Brundage Fire Lookout on the Lookout Trail
From the top of the Bluebird Express, turn right (South) and look for the trailhead sign just beyond the Restroom Cabin. The Lookout Trail is rocky but relatively flat.
The short trip along the summit ridge to the Lookout is blanketed with wildflowers and wrapped in stellar views. Peek to the East for vistas of the Lick Creek/Salmon River mountains.
As you head South along the short trail, you’ll find a variety of wildflowers and small wildlife.
As you draw closer to the Lookout itself, more expansive views of Payette Lake, Little Payette Lake, McCall and Long Valley come into focus.
Please note: The Brundage Lookout is an active Forest Service Fire Lookout. There is a viewing platform that is open to the public, but the tower itself is not open to the public. Please be respectful of the fact that the lookout itself serves as someone’s residence and active workplace.
For the return part of the hike, you can either re-trace your steps or go down to South Lodge Lane, a wider jeep road. There, you’ll find the historic Brundage Lookout Residence, which dates to 1914 and was at one time the sleeping quarters for the lookout staff. The current lookout tower was constructed in 1982 and includes sleeping quarters.
- Stretch Your Legs With a Long, Lovely Lakeview Loop
Those looking for a bigger challenge now have more options at Brundage Mountain. Several multi-use trails are now open to hikers, including Black Bear, Growler and the newest, most spectacular trail, Lakeview Vista.
Lakeview Vista is a two-way trail, but our favorite way to enjoy this south-side stunner is this route:
Ride the BlueBird Express to the summit, head South on South Lodge lane, (below the Centennial Terminal) watch for signs pointing you left on FS road 456. (The signs say “Lakeview Vista”).
This section of the hike is a bit over a mile, and while it’s mostly on a jeep road, it offers some pretty cool views of the Payette Lakes and the unique White Bark Pine trees along the way.
Once you hook into the Lakeview Vista trail, you’re in for a 2.8 mile pleasure cruise with spectacular views. This trail is shared use, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for mountain bikers. It’s got good sight lines and plenty of room to step aside, so this is an easy trail to share.
Be on the lookout for wildflowers, lake and mountain views, and also for the helmet tree! It’s new on the scene but already giving the wintertime ‘bra tree’ a run for its money!
The trail winds out to a scenic knob, then under the Lakeview Chairlift. There are several areas where logs or rocks provide a nice spot for a scenic snack break.
Once you reach the Growler Trail crossing, you can stay to the right on the Lakeview access road (it’s a wide jeep road) for about a quarter mile until you run back into South Lodge Lane.
At that point, you have a choice: either hike 1.7 miles down to the base area on South Lodge Lane, OR, for a bigger challenge, head UP South Lodge Lane 1.5 miles back to the summit and return to the base by riding the BlueBird Express back down with a cool breeze in your hair.
Total distance: 5.3 or 5.5 miles, depending on the last leg (the 5.5 mile option is actually easier because it’s all downhill.) This hike takes 3+ hours at a moderate pace. If you are a photo taker, be sure to allow extra time. You will surely be distracted by all there is to see!
- All Mountain Hiking on South Lodge Lane
Hike the Whole Mountain on South Lodge Lane – 6.2 or 3.1 miles
Those looking for an ambitious hike can climb South Lodge Lane 3.1 miles from the base area to the 7,640 foot Brundage Mountain Summit, then descend the same trail for an additional 3.1 miles.
This mountain road is wide and traverses some of the most beautiful parts of Brundage Mountain. Watch for wildlife as you meander around the Bear Chair knob, this is a popular place to spot deer and elk!
Soon after, you’ll reach Temptation saddle, which offers satisfying views of Payette Lake to the South. A push to the summit reaps the ultimate rewards – 360 degrees of beauty and a legitimate claim that you ‘summited’ Brundage Mountain!
Another option for this hike is to take the Bluebird Express to the summit, then descend 3.1 miles on South Lodge Lane. Either way, you’ll want to pack some water and snacks for your epic journey!
Goose Creek Trailhead – 1 mile from Brundage Mountain
The Goose Creek Trail is a popular out-and-back hike to Goose Creek Falls. The trail head is located at the western end of the Gordon Titus High Elevation Parking lot, off of Goose Lake Road. Enjoy this hike as part of your Brundage Mountain adventure!