Snowmobiling in McCall, Idaho 2023 Guide

Here at onX, we have a passionate group of sledders who hit the backcountry hard every year. When building features, we are looking through the lens of real-time feedback to give fellow snow enthusiasts the tools and data they need to be safe in the backcountry and have fun doing the sport we love. Snowmobiles are built more and more capable every year, which means we’re capable of going farther and deeper into the mountains than ever—so reliable navigation such as onX becomes even more crucial.

People often hyper-focus on Avy Danger when it comes to staying safe in the snow, but backcountry safety has two parts: snow + terrain conditions and navigation. Riders really can’t risk getting lost in the wintery backcountry, and here’s why a trusted platform like onX Offroad can help you avoid those situations and make informed decisions while snowmobiling.

“It’s all about knowing what you can’t see—being able to see terrain from the palm of your hand is crucial”

– Rory, GM of onX Offroad
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Can You Snowmobile in McCall, Idaho?

Snowmobile trails in McCall, Idaho cover hundreds of miles—earning its title for one of the best snowmobile hubs in the North West.

From easygoing routes to top-tier backcountry terrain, McCall offers much more than just snowmobile trails. Snowmobile travel combines the best of sightseeing and adventure, which makes for a thrilling way to explore the beautiful scenery of McCall. Here is our top 6 list of the most recommended trails in McCall, ID.

#1: Warren Wagon Rd

This trail will get you into the heart of some incredible backcountry access. You’ll find the hard-core sledding crowd at this trailhead because you can get into the steep country fast. Park and unload at one of the two main parking areas at the North end of Payette Lake. From there, follow Warren Wagon Road until you pass a gate—then, you can ride as far as your sled can go. If you’re feeling up for a ride with a hot soak at the end, this is also the trail for riding into Burgdorf Hot Springs. Be sure to plan smart for that ride; it’s a long one.

#2: Goose Lake Trail

  • Parking lot: Titus
  • Groomed: Yes

The seemingly endless terrain opportunities of Goose Creek let you choose exactly the type of riding day you want. From here, you can access thousands of miles of trails and stitch together multiple loops or go for a simple out and back. The parking lot is just shy of Brundage Mountain Ski area, which starts you at a higher elevation access point—so Goose Creek is usually a safe bet on days when the parking lots are muddy down low. If you’re chasing those tasty lakebed powder turns, this is also the closest trail + parking lot for heading to Brundage Reservoir and Goose Lake.

#3: Thorn Creek

Thorn Creek starts in the same parking lot as Goose Lake. Instead of heading North as most people do, take Thorn Creek South towards town to explore awesome open meadows such as Bear Basin. We recommend this trip be an out-and-back trail since making a loop here tends to be lengthy.

#4: Brush Creek Trail

Brush Creek Loop is a groomed loop where conditions tend to stay nicer than the three trails mentioned above. This trail is one of the shorter loops—so if time is not on your side, Brush Creek is a great option for a quick half-day ride. The parking lot is on your right-hand side after you pass East Side Road. To access the trail, ride back down Warren Wagon, turn onto East Side Rd, and follow that back until you hit Brush Creek.

#5: Green Gate Trail

Green Gate Trail is another great option if you are limited on time, and the trailhead is the closest to town. You’ll be presented with two simple options: turn right or turn left—the rest is up to you. Green Gate let’s you tailor your timing, and it’s easy to navigate your way back. This trip is best suited for out-and-backs, as loops here are likely out of the cards for most.

#6: Ecks Flat Trail

From the parking lot at West Face, you can access a lower-elevation trail on Ecks Flat Trail. Ecks Flats can be a good option when the high country is socked in but you’re still looking to get out on the trail. Keep in mind, this trail mainly goes through private property and offers another short to medium loop. Ecks Flat is a less popular spot than those mentioned above, which means it’s usually a good option for escaping the crowds.

Popular Rentals and Tour Operators

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line sled rentals and awesome tours, we suggest CMBackcountry in downtown McCall. We had the pleasure of joining Cody and his crew on some epic backcountry adventures and we highly recommend it. Tours here vary by experience level— go for a wild day or a scenic one depending on your style. Don’t have gear? They’ve got you covered.

Sled Pack List:

  • Tow straps or NRS straps (in case you break something or need a tow) 
  • Siphon (in case you run out of fuel
  • Tools and “clutch tool”
  • Spare belt, spark plugs, zip ties, and tie wire
  • Lighter for fire (use siphon for gas if you need to)

Truck Pack List:

  • 2-stroke oil
  • Coolant
  • Extra beacon batteries (AAA) 
  • Spare “buddy” radio

Operator Pack List:

  • Offline maps (save these in your Offroad App in case you lose service. These could save your life.)
  • Portable phone charger
  • Radio
  • Avalanche beacon (check the batteries!)
  • Avalanche probe
  • Shovel
  • Waterproof gear and lots of layers
  • Spare gloves
  • Whistle (In case the radio fails. They’re usually built into all backpacks now.)
  • Plenty of water and food

Tips for Planning a Trip

There are many factors when it comes to planning a trip. For this blog, we’re looking through the lens of a group of riders who plan to travel West to ride “big mountains” with their own machines—since that’s becoming increasingly popular these days. Timing is a major factor in planning snowmobile trips. The secret is to have enough base to not be snapping a-arms while still getting a taste of the deep snow without being socked in all day. That recipe can be hard to time, especially when you need reservations ahead of time—but for places like McCall, ID, I’ve had epic powder days as early as late December to mid-March. As most of us know, predicting conditions is near impossible—so just do your best to time your trip, and you’ll have fun with your friends and family regardless.

  • Choose the location or chase the storms. Whether returning to a yearly favorite or exploring a new one, navigation should be top-of-mind when venturing into uncharted territory. Be sure you have your onX Offline Maps downloaded before you head outside of cell coverage to ensure you have your maps for the whole ride. We also have Snotel sites in the app—arguably the most accurate way to read snow conditions.
  • Gear list mentioned above. Be sure to have spare parts if you’re traveling across the country to hit one of the hot spots out West. Many of the towns out this way have odd shop hours, and parts can be hard to find due to low inventory. I smoked two belts on a big trip one year and had to drive two hours one way to be able to ride the next day. Some may have the luxury of bringing an entire backup sled which is great if you can swing that.
  • Pick a Snow Lot. Do your research ahead of time on where major access points are in the area you choose. Most sled hotpots have multiple access points, but as snowmobiling grows in popularity, it can lead to thousands of people stacked in one lot. Be sure to have a plan B lot in mind.
  • Book hotels way in advance. With growing popularity comes more and more sleds in every hot spot. Small mountain towns vary on hotel, motel, and house rental offerings, so you’ll want to book as far in advance as you can.
  • Text friends or family Waypoints for the zone you’re riding that day. I know this one can be tough because sleds travel so far and fast, but even a general area Waypoint for the zone you plan on being in is a great safety measure to at least have a direction where you were headed that day.
  • Make sure you know where your non-ethanol fuel stops are (Yes, that’s in the App too). Most days, we’re getting out of the mountains late, and the last thing we want to do is gas up the sleds for the next day. McCall, for example, has two major gas stations with non-ethanol fuel that tend to get super crowded. Some small towns out here will have one and one only, and the line in the morning can be brutal. Another option, of course, is to bring your own fuel, but that depends on whether you have a fuel cell in a trailer. It’s easy to burn 10 gallons of fuel, especially on deep powder days, so I want to avoid bringing a bunch of jugs for multiple sleds.
  • Boot dryers or ways to dry your gear. On multi-day trips, stepping into wet boots and gear the next day isn’t much fun. 
  • Enough oil. As mentioned, small mountain town shops and gas stations usually have their inventory picked over. Bring enough oil to last the whole trip. Also, if your group has a mixed lineup of sleds, always have a spare oil jug (or five), something like Amsoil that can be used across the board if you need it.

Final thought: Have a blast, chase powder, stay safe—and remember, these are the good ol’ days

onX saved my ass story

Every year we try and have an annual sled trip with some of our closest friends. A few years ago, we were just outside of Driggs, ID exploring some new terrain and a big storm rolled in. The kind of storm where snow is blowing so hard, it’s almost going up. We were 20 miles or so from the truck and our tracks on the way in completely vanished so we couldn’t just follow them out. One of our buddies ended up having a saved track from the parking lot from the previous day and was in the same area we were in the second day. We were able to follow the track out in a blizzard, pitch dark, and with 10 other people to worry about. onX saved the day that trip.

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Jake Rosaia

I got into offroading at the age of 6 where I was lucky enough to get introduced to all things motors from my dad. He bought me my very first dirtbike off the showroom floor in 1998 and the rest was history. (Fun fact, I still have that z50 to this day). From then on, my addiction for 2 wheels grew stronger and I ended up racing motocross for the majority of my life. I still race to this day, just less on the track and more XC-style. My snowmobiling addiction also came at an early age when my brother and I had a Kitty Cat 120 and then was finally big enough to hop on an Arctic Cat 440 in the early 2000’s. I’m an avid backcountry sledder to this day and plan on doing it as long as I can.