Pearl Lake Hike with Burgdorf Hot Spring, Payette National Forest, Idaho

     Day three started with Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches out the camp oven with a side of grapes before loading up and hitting the road. The weather was a little cloudy, but that’s ok. We went right toward McCall from Upper Payette Lake, and a few miles down the road found the turnoff for Pearl Lake, and after 6.6 miles of rocky and bumpy road we found the trailhead. While loading provisions for our hike a deer walked in, and pretty much right up to us, something I’ve never seen before. I shewed him off a few time in an attempt to scare the deer, but he kept on coming closer which scared the heck out of our son. Eventually I resorted to throwing rocks before he got the picture and ran away

     We picked up the trail for Pearl Lake and quickly reached on old rickety bridge over the North Fork of Pearl Creek, we all crossed safely, but that bridge won’t be there much longer. We made a short descent and again crossed another Creek, this one we could hop over. We began the climb as views of the surrounding mountains peaks in the distance began to open up. One thing nice about hiking an old burn area are the expansive views. The trail cruised along, sometimes up, sometimes down. Eventually we worked our way around a ridge and began a descent into a valley full of green meadows. There was still a lot of water along the trail, sometimes running right down it. At one point we spotted a frog, a rather large one at that, giving me just enough time to let the kids see him before slipping away into the marsh. I have never seen meadows like the ones we were walking through, a sea of green grass with meandering streams and granite outcroppings sprinkled here and there, it was spectacular.

     Most of the forest in these mountains has burned, everywhere you look in the high country around McCall is charred with black trees and old silver snags. At the edge of a meadow we spotted a sign that read “Pearl Lk”, we went left and up, sometimes steep, past more granite and a roaring outlet creek. Eventually, we could make out the lake, a somewhat shallow body of water with a surface sprinkled with green grasses and some Lilly pads. Lumps of granite dotted the shoreline but for the most point it’s shores were soggy. Rugged granite peaks made for a splendid backdrop, Pearl Lake is a perfect example of an alpine environment. We worked our way counterclockwise around the lake where at one point Kylie lost a shoe and was left crying with one muddy sock. After cleaning her up we pressed on avoiding as much mud as possible before finding a nice spot on a big Rock from which to cast a fly. I missed a few nips on the dry and ended up leaving empty handed. The kids got a kick out of my attempt to land one of the small trout slapping at the surface.

     We had a nice break before calling it quits and heading back toward the trailhead. Back at the truck we found the deer long gone. We unpacked before eating a lunch of ham sandwiches and chips. As we were getting ready to go I discovered on old fly box full of bugs lying on the grass, what a score! After lunch we changed into swimsuits and made way for Burgdorf Hot Springs. The drive was nice and the views around Secesh summit spectacular. Eventually we found the old rugged outpost. We paid the lady our 26 bucks and headed for the spring. They have one large pool with a shallow area for the little kids. At the end of the pool warm water runs through a pipe and fills an old bathtub before dropping into the creek below. We had a nice soak, and the kids loved it. The main pool was just a tad warm for my liking but relaxing nonetheless. After our soak we enjoyed an ice cream sandwich on the way out, what a great way to cap off an excellent day. Pearl Lake is a great family friendly hike, we covered about 3.6 miles round trip and around 500 feet of elevation gain.

     Back in camp we had sausage, peppers, and rice for dinner. After the kids went to bed Robin and I were sitting by the fire when some mangy looking dog wandered into camp, it looked like a cross between a dingo and a fox. I yelled at it, trying to scare it off but it wouldn’t leave. I threw a stick that came close and he backed off to the road. I reloaded throwing another one and he eventually got the message before took off, needless to say Robin was pretty freaked out. Turns out the wild fox are common to the area and are harmless. For more pictures click the link. Pearl Lake and Burgdorf Hot Spring

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