You’ll begin your Mountain Craft Beer Trail tour in Boise—Idaho’s capital city.
Urban comforts rest seamlessly against hundreds of miles of single track mountain bike and hiking trails in the Boise Foothills—the Treasure Valley’s buffer from the Rocky Mountains. Bisected by the peaceful waters of the Boise River, the Treasure Valley is the perfect starting point for your brewery tour, with endless options for recreation, wining, dining, and craft beer. Often regarded as one of the top places to live, work and play in the United States, the so called “City of Trees” has become a delightful haven for beer drinkers and craft brew enthusiasts.
Drop by Payette Brewing Company for an Outlaw IPA or Payette Pale Ale on a green spring afternoon. The brewery, named for one of Idaho’s staple rivers, offers many seasonal beers and is known to bring in evening eats from some of the areas top food trucks.
Just up the street is the Crooked Fence Brewery Barrelhouse—another laid back beer maker with a prolific local following. Try a Rusty Nail Pale Ale after a cruiser tour of the Boise River Greenbelt corridor.
From there, you may want to shift your attention to the lively downtown Boise beer scene. 10 Barrel Brewing Company offers excellent options for foodies, not to mention a diverse spectrum of tasty in-house brews. You might want to make Bittercreek Ale House (just around the corner) your next stop. With a refined menu and robust beer and wine selection, you could get lost in the menu. But don’t worry, the highly trained staff can recommend something for any preference.
Once you’ve had your fill of hiking, biking, and craft beers in Boise, head north on Historic Highway 55 (Payette River Scenic Byway). This well traveled byway is one of the most scenic roads in the United States. Just 22 miles from Boise, you’ll come across Horseshoe Bend—gateway to the Payette River system. Stop by Kits Riverside Café for a legendary finger steak lunch on the patio overlooking the rippling waters of the Payette. Day and evening trips on the Thunder Mountain Line railway offer some epic canyon scenery and many opportunities to test your photographic abilities.
A few miles up the road is Banks—your starting point for a day of whitewater action. Day trips down the South Fork and Main Payette are affordable, and arguably the most sought after excursion in the Gem State.
From Banks, you’ll head into some of the most picturesque country in the Northern Hemisphere. The next fifteen miles encompasses non-stop class five+ whitewater, with plenty of turnouts to watch kayakers tackle enormous haystack waves. A handful of beaches and camping options are available along this stretch.
Just north of Smiths Ferry and Cougar Mountain Lodge, you’ll cross over the Historic Rainbow Bridge and the end of the Cabarton—another wonderful whitewater day trip.
A hop and a skip and you’ll enter Round Valley, Southwest Idaho’s high mountain country. The old logging town of Cascade is home to majestic Lake Cascade and Grandma’s Café—home cooking at its finest.
Passing over Little Donner Summit, you’ll enter the quaint valley town of Donnelly and the turnoff to Tamarack Resort—a four-season getaway with mountain bike trails for every skill level, and the world class Osprey Meadows Golf Course. You can also spend an evening soaking in the legendary Gold Fork Hot Springs, just 20 minutes from town.
Now you’re nearing the end of your tour—but we’ve saved some of the best for last. The resort town of McCall is one of the most relaxed and enjoyable places to visit in Idaho, with summer being especially pleasant. Myriad wining and dining options abound before, during or after an action packed day of boating on Payette Lake, mountain biking at Brundage Mountain, or exploring the historic relics around Burgdorf Hot Springs. But the high mountain air and clear skies may be McCall’s best amenity.
Drop in to the Salmon River Brewery for a bite to eat and its staple Udaho Gold—a refreshing ale for any pallet. The McCall Brewing Company also offers a nice food menu and a tasty Hippie Hopped Pale Ale, among many other draft beers.
Overview: The route from Boise to McCall is 106 miles. Plan on 1 to 3 days to experience many of the highlights along the way.
Guest Blogger: Andrew Mentzer