Every outdoor adventurer has looked at topo maps for a trail around Payette Lake.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a horseback rider, hiker, trailrunner, or MTBer. We dreamed about a true off-road route that would connect McCall to Bear Basin, the elusive Rim Ride to North Beach, the east side to Blackwell Lake and back through Ponderosa Park. I know CIMBA scoured maps looking for overgrown routes for twenty years. We thought it would be easy. Surely, some forgotten logging road went around the lake already? We rode down countless dead-ends and hiked potential trail corridors, but came up short every time.
After all those years, the dream continued and we persevered. This had the potential to be an unbelievable loop- a truly epic trail that combined the best features of our area’s trails in one loop. It would have the big views of the valley and Payette Lake, the best loamy singletrack, Tamarack groves, huge Ponderosa pines, and rideable granite outcrops. It would feel remote, but easily accessible and close to town for a post-ride microbrew.
Nothing this good is ever easy. It was an incredibly complicated project that often seemed impossible. Luckily, a dedicated group of local riders gave hundreds of hours and worked alongside with our partnering land managers. Together we reviewed maps and gps files, created lease documents, and obtained approval to build the linchpin singletrack pieces which connect the existing segments.
Approval in hand, our next step was even harder. Building a trail like this takes a lot of time, hard work, and specialized knowledge. Local volunteers cut the corridor, moved dirt with hand-tools, and took it as far as possible, but building along rock cliffs requires skills and equipment from outside the area. It takes a significant financial investment too. Fortunately, many generous people and organizations stepped forward and we could afford the experts at Progressive Trail Design. Eventually PTD believed in the project so much that they moved to Idaho too!
So, as I’m writing this today, we’re about to open Phase 1 of the Payette Lake Trail. Even this first segment is an incredible asset for our community and something we can all be proud of having in our backyard. It was a big dream, but today we have a really unique trail system that was made possible through the long-term dedication of CIMBA members near and far. I hope you share in this sense of accomplishment and know that your involvement and support of CIMBA makes it possible.
As a token of our appreciation, we thought it would be a good idea to throw a party and celebrate!
Stay tuned for details - the trail will be live on MTB Project and Trailforks early next week. By being a CIMBA member you will be the first to know!
See you on the trails,