Ponderosa State Park Big Loop
ElevationAscent: 640' 195 m
Descent: -638' -194 m
High: 5,225' 1,593 m
Low: 5,003' 1,525 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“A loop run around the Ponderosa State Park peninsula.”— Keith Lannom
Nearly all of this loop is open to mountain bikes. There are bathroom facilities at the Nature Center near the trailhead and a vault toilet near Big Rock Beach. Most of the trails in the park are unsigned and some trails aren't on the park maps. It's possible to take a wrong turn, but you can't stay lost for long since it is a peninsula.
The trail continues on the lake's edge for a few hundred feet and then goes back into the trees. Around 2.3 miles, you'll go by Huckleberry Bay and if you want to cut the run short, turn left and take the road back. Stay on the trail and head out toward the point. At about 2.6 miles, there is a good climb but it is short (0.2 miles). Soon the trail leaves the trees and enters an open meadow. At about 3.3 miles, you'll come to the Ridgeline Trail junction; go right to stay on the loop. Cross the open road and then descend for a bit; then there is another climb to an overlook of the Narrows of Payette Lake. From here, the trail drops and starts paralleling the shoreline. At 5 miles, you'll pass Duck Bay.
At about 5.2 miles, the trail will end and you'll run along the open gravel road, but the traffic is pretty light and they usually drive slow since they are on vacation. The Lily Marsh will be on your left. Watch for the gravel hike/bike path on the right just after the Lily Marsh. The trail separates from the road and runs by a couple of nice sandy beaches if you want to go for a swim. Big Rock Beach is just up ahead.
Cross the open paved road, angle a bit to the left to find the trail (look for the Boat Ramp/Exit sign; the trail is behind it). Stay on this trail for about 0.25 mile, then turn left at the junction. The trail crosses an open paved roadl; at the next trail junction, turn right and you are almost back to the trailhead.
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Land Manager: Idaho Parks & Recreation - Ponderosa State Park