Hiking to Lava Butte Lakes north of McCall, Idaho.
My family and I have camped and hiked several times in the Hazard Lake area. Even so, the hike to Lava Butte Lakes was a bit of a surprise. This area was burnt some time ago and as with most burns, the wild flowers get their chance to shine. It's not a long or particularly hard hike, but it offers an awesome variety in the views you will find. To find the trailhead, you will be able to follow this Google Map to Hazard Lake from McCall
,but Google fails us there. About 3 miles after passing Hazard Lake Campground, the road takes a hard right and begins to climb to the top of the ridge. (If you don't take the right turn, the road leads you to Clayburn Trailhead.) Enjoy the drive up the ridge. It has fantastic views of Hazard and Big Hazard Lakes. From the point that the road crosses the top of the ridge above Hazard Lake, it is 5.3 miles to the trailhead where you will begin this hike. There is a trailhead that you will pass as the road climbs the ridge and it leads to Lava Butte but it is much longer. I like the hike from the second trailhead better because there is a greater variety in the forest and wild flowers. At the trailhead you will find plenty of parking.
This is the trailhead but you'll park across the road.
We parked along the road but you can get clear off the road too.
This sign is at the start of the trail so as you can see it's not far to the ridge top.
In 1994 a fire ravaged this entire area but the trees are making a comeback and the wild flowers are taking advantage of the sunlight.
Bolton Creek isn't much but the little bridge and wildflowers make for a pretty scene.
This sign says to the left to Lava Lakes and you will get there but only after climbing the ridge. We went up to the left and came back down from the right. If you are only interested in hiking to the lakes I recommend taking the righthand fork.
The left fork leads up Bolton Creek and ...
but gets very faint at times.
Eventually it zig-zags up Lava Ridge.
Only a short distance up the ridge toward Lava Butte there is a trail going back down. We took that route after..
taking time for a selfie and a lunch break..
Our lunch break had a great view of Lava Lake.
Another wonderful view as we started down.
After visiting the lakes we took the lower trail which climbed over a hill and down to meadows below.
If you are in this area I recommend this hike. It is relatively easy if you avoid the climb to the ridge but will still have some strenuous moments. I didn't measure the hike but estimate it to be about 3 miles to the lakes and back. We didn't do any fishing but saw fish in the lake.