Blackmare Peak is a remote peak in the mountains south and east of McCall, Idaho. The mountains in this area are mostly granite, with moderate south slopes and precipitous north sides. Blackmare offers wonderful views, but is hard to spot from any roads.
In some places the trail to this peak is well maintained, but the trail on the final ascent has been abandoned, so that section is hard to follow. However, if one is skilled at navigation the terrain lends itself to cross-country travel (a euphemism for the dreaded "bushwacking").
The route here, car-to-car, is approximately 16.0 miles with a climb of over 3700'. Due to the need to cross a ridge on the way, there is about 3400' of actual gain. So for most folks this is a big day. For faster hikers, expect this to take about 7-9 hours.
The summit of Blackmare holds an abandoned lookout. According to “Points of Prominence, Fire Lookouts of the Payette National Forest’” the Forest Service decided to decommission the lookout, so they caved in the roof and piled the outhouse on top. But they forgot to return in the fall to burn the mess. This was 30 or 40 years ago.
Getting ThereThis climb can be accessed in any car, assuming you go when the road is snow-free.
First, get to the Paddy Flats road. The Paddy Flats road is also called the Kennally Creek road, or FS 388. This is a winding dirt road that takes the long way to get to where you need to go. It is passable, in season, to passenger vehicles. However, you probably won’t make it without a Payette National Forest map.
Go north from Donnelly on Highway 55 for about 3 miles, looking for the sign to Paddy Flats to the east. Take the Paddy Flats road and follow it into the mountains. At times it seems that the road is going the wrong direction. At times it is. You also have the choice of staying on the main road, which stays above the flats, or going through Paddy Flats itself. But if you have a Forest Service map it is pretty easy to get to Kennally Creek campground. There is a well-marked trailhead in the campground, complete with kiosk. Total distance from the highway is about 16.5 miles from the highway.
Red TapeNo red tape.
However, this is within big-game hunting area, so check the regulations and wear bright colors.
CampingKennally Creek campground, at the trailhead, is in a nice, flat area adjacent to the creek. Very pretty, but probably buggy in the summer months.
External LinksTrip reports
Splattski trip report
Payette National Forest
McCall Chamber of Commerce
McCall area web cams
Idaho road report
McCall, Idaho wiki
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.
Route and stats
From the trailhead, follow the trail along the creek. At the first intersection (signed) turn right; left goes to Kennally Lakes. At the next intersection (also signed) turn left; right goes to the Needles. You are now going up the East Fork of Kennally Creek.
It is possible to intermittently ride a mountain bike past this point and on to about 7200’. Past there, even riding downhill would be tough. Whether on foot or bike, keep on trucking to Blackmare Summit (pass), where you will get your first view of the peak.
Head down the other side and cross the meadow, following the water’s path (the creek is dry late in the summer). At the spillover from the meadow, the trail becomes obvious and there is a sign in a tree indicating up and down the valley. Your trail is right behind the tree, without the sign indicating such (but the map shows it clearly). Follow this third trail for a couple hundred yards, looking for cairns on the right-hand hillside. Follow the cairns (or use your map to find the trail by crossing it) as far as you can and then follow the faint trail. The trail goes all the way to the summit.
16 miles round trip