Situated just inside the rim of Pacific weather influence, McCall, Idaho and the surrounding West Central mountains are capable of accumulating massive amounts of snow. Tired clouds dump the rest of their cargo on these mountains before heading south to dryer climates. This Pacific influence makes for a special kind of snow.
Here the flakes are bigger, heavier, and wetter. The white stuff piles high. Walking on a snowshoe trail here combines the view of untouched feet of powder laden across the forest floor, clinging to the old growth ponderosas and fir on the boughs above, with the frozen lake often peaking through slivers of sight through the massive trunks.
Ponderosa State Park is located on the Peninsula of Payette Lake. Even with the existence of a logging mill here in town for decades, the importance of the natural state of the peninsula was recognized and the tree harvest was off limits. This was a
very progressive idea for a town that existed solely because of timber harvest.
The park is relatively small, but meandering trails that weave in and out of alcoves, huckleberry meadows, marshes to shores, and pinnacles offer miles of hiking and biking during the summer and snowshoeing and skiing in the winter. The Peninsula
is managed and “cleaned up” in some sections, and in others the wildscape is “unmanaged.” This offers different experiences for your adventure!
You must pay to park at Ponderosa State Park or you can snowshoe on the frozen lake into the park. If you are coming for speed, stick to the snowskate track. This track is groomed and offers sections for beginners and experts alike. If you prefer some solitude, take one of the many ungroomed side trails to enjoy the silence of the winterscape… and the occasional woodpecker, deer, weasel, and squirrel sighting.
If you are in it to win it, make sure to make your way to the farthest point in the Park, Osprey Point. A 360-degree view of the lake provides you with a great view of the northern mountains and the southern glacial valley. For a different experience,
head into the park on full moon nights to get all up in a winter night time.