Moonrise over Jughandle Mountain
Jughandle Mountain is the obvious peak to the east of Highway 55 as you approach McCall from Boise. Its shape suggests a jug handle, with a long ridge line with a pronounced rounded hump at the north end.
This is a popular day hike from McCall. At about 3 miles and 2100' gain, it's a good workout without being exhausting. But from the summit, a lot of backcountry area opens up for the intrepid hiker. The views are excellent, because Jughandle stands somewhat by itself with nothing too close that is comparably high.
The normal approach to Jughandle is the Louie Lake trail, marked on topos of the area. A few years back, some of the country traversed by the lower trail was logged, so at times the trail has been hard to follow. However, it seems to be improving.
Jughandle also offers excellent backcountry skiing, although some areas around the mountain are over-run by snow machines.
For the hard core, Jughandle also has a host of hard trad routes
, some with bolts placed.
Distance: 6 miles car-to-car
Difficulty: Class 1 to Louie Lake, then Class 2
About 1.5 miles south of the traffic light at the McCall airport/Hwy 55, turn east on Farm to Market Road (paved). At this point, the road is now signed as 'Elo Road.'
Map with trailheads circled in red
Follow this road through four 90 degree bends. After a bridge crossing Lake Fork Creek and at another 90 degree bend, turn left (actually go straight; the bend goes right) on FS-403 and head up the hill. Shortly after the top of the hill, the pavement ends. Stay on the main road, and reach the parking at Boulder Reservoir in about 5 miles from the end of the pavement. If you are uncertain, it's not a bad idea to carry a map for the drive.
Once at the trailhead, there are parking spaces all over, but you may not see a sign. Also, sometimes finding an empty space is a challenge because the reservoir is a popular local fishing hole.
The trail is near the western end of all the parking spaces, and immediately crosses the creek. Follow the trail up through a logged are and eventually connect with an ancient jeep road to Louie Lake. From Louie Lake, there are several options: E
Go right and bushwhack up the north ridge. It's fairly open country, and involves some scrambling near the top.
Go left at the lake and find/follow the trail that heads near the north-east ridge. Scramble the boulders to the top.
Note that McCall sits at about 5000' and is definitely in snow country. If you are going sometime other than summer, check the road report (link below).
View of Long Valley from the summit
Boulders on the east ridge
The trailhead is too busy for good camping. Louie Lake offers some nice spots, but don't expect to be alone, as this is another popular fishing spot.
External LinksTrip reports and rock routes
Super Dave's trip report
IdahoSummits.com trip report
Ski trip report (May)
Rockclimbing.com page with technical climbs on Jughandle
Payette National Forest
McCall Chamber of Commerce
McCall area web cams
Idaho road report
McCall, Idaho wiki
Skiing the west face in spring