Nestled underneath picturesque Horstmann Peak, Redfish Lake is the go-to summer get away for many families in Idaho and it’s no secret why. The lake offers fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, lodging, great swimming holes and plenty of areas to spread out and enjoy the views with the family.
Located a little more than an hour north of Sun Valley and 4 Hours from Mountain Home Air Force Base, this lush area actually has some green vegetation throughout the year, not to mention its sandy lakeside spots.
Idaho’s second most popular beach sits on the northern edge of Redfish Lake. This beach has a decent amount of sandy real estate. By no means is it a pristine white sand beach like those found in the Maldives but, for Idaho, it’s one of the best available. Quiet spots are easy to come by and there’s nothing quite like digging your feet into the sand and watching the clouds roll over Horstmann Peak in the distance. Add in a few picnic baskets and a successful family vacation is bound to unfold. But, what lakeside family vacation would be complete without dropping a line in the water?
Redfish has excellent fishing opportunities for sockeye salmon. The lake is regularly stocked and provides one of the easiest opportunities to catch these deep-water dwellers. Fly fishers will also find the area alluring as many large creeks teeming with trout litter the landscape around Redfish Lake. The nearby Redfish Lodge offers a variety of watercraft for rent to get you and your family out into the lake’s pristine waters. For those who consider themselves anything but amphibious, there’s plenty to do on dry land as well.
Mountain Biking is another popular activity in the area. Numerous trails stem from the entrance to the lodge and lead into the various valleys and meadows under Horstmann Peak. These trails often lead to seldom seen areas of the lake and can provide a unique experience for visitors looking to leave behind the crowds. Speaking of getting away from the hustle and bustle around the lodge, there is no better way to do so than hoping on a trail and hiking into the mountains.
Redfish Lake Trail (Trail 101) is a leg burner but it’s an excellent way to fully experience all the nooks and crannies that Redfish has to offer. You can either follow this trail along the lake or take the path up into the mountains towards the alpine lakes that lie below Heyburn Mountain. The trail spans 14.3 miles but rest assured, it’s a there-and-back trail, meaning, you can call it quits and turn around at any point. 14.3 miles is a long hike so you’ll definitely want somewhere to rest those achy legs at the end of the day, fortunately the lake has lodging covered as well.
Some people check into the Redfish lodge for a relaxing nights rest in a real bed. However, I found that a nice hammock or a tent works just fine at one of the lakes eight campgrounds. Reservations and payments vary at these sites so be sure to do some research beforehand.
If you couldn’t get enough of Redfish Lake, be sure to drive just a few miles south and soak in the sights at Yellow Belly, Petit and Alturas lakes. All three of these locations are gorgeous lakes if just a bit smaller than Redfish. They are also homes to several trailheads, including those that lead to Snowyside Peak and El Capitan.
Weather it’s a beachside getaway or a trek to the mountains you seek, Redfish Lake will deliver! Take some time this summer and haul the family up to this north woods retreat, you won’t regret it!
Commentary by Senior Airman Connor J. Marth
This publication was made on behalf of Mountain Home Air Force Base Public Affairs.**No federal endorsement intended**
Courtesy photos by Visit Idaho