This author is a paid content writer for Idaho Tourism.

Blue Lake, one of Idaho’s better kept secrets, can be found just outside of Cascade in the Boise National Forest near the summit of Snowbank Mountain and Granite Peak. It’s a short hike that’s easily accessible during the spring and summer months and is only 80 miles from Boise – a short two-hour drive.

Blue Lake
Hiking down to Blue Lake. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Simply follow NF-446 to its end to reach the turnoff which is 20 miles before Cascade. If you’re coming from Boise and you reach Cascade, you’ve gone too far. NF-446 is a National Forest Service road that is unpaved but extremely well maintained and easy to drive on.

Blue Lake
Enjoying the views on the trail to Blue Lake. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

I recommend beginning your ascent up the mountain in the morning. By the time you get to the trailhead marking the one-mile hike to Blue Lake, the sun illuminates the valley below allowing you to see miles of rolling mountains and sweeping green fields.

Blue Lake
A view of the surrounding mountains at Blue Lake. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

The descent down the trail to Blue Lake is relatively easy. The pathway is slightly rocky, has a gradual decline, and, depending on the season, winds through droves of vibrant wildflowers or beautiful pines until you reach the shores of the lake.

Blue Lake
Blue Lake in the heart of summer. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

I was accompanied by family during my hike and the youngest in attendance was a seven year old. He had no trouble keeping up, in fact, he led us down the trail most of the way because he was so excited to play on the shores of the lake.

Blue Lake
Playing on the shores of Blue Lake. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

As you approach the shore, you’ll notice several spots where people have camped overnight. If you plan on making this a two-day trip be sure to bring your fishing rod, as Blue Lake’s sparkling blue water is the perfect place to catch some dinner.

Blue Lake
Cooling off in the waters of Blue Lake. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Trip Tips:

  • Bring a bathing suit. Although the lake water is chilly in early summer months, it’s great to cool off in the water after a sweat-inducing hike.
  • Pack picnic supplies. Many of the rocks along the shoreline are large, wide and flat and make for a unique lunch venue.
  • Make a safety plan. Let family or friends know when you are going on your hike and when you plan to return.