by Pamela Kreibrink Thompson, photos by Lance Thompson
Cascade—the name evokes cool water plunging over smoothly polished rock. Seventy-six miles (1½ hours) north of Boise, Cascade is an easy day trip for a family interested in exploring mountain trails, boating or fishing on Lake Cascade, or tubing on the north fork of the Payette River. Cascade is a shorter trip up Highway 55 than McCall, which can be a welcome bonus for those traveling with the “Are we there yet?” set. As you travel along the Payette River, keep your eyes open for wildlife such as fox, deer, elk, blue heron, osprey, and bald eagles.
Lake Cascade is famous for swimming, sailing, water-skiing, and fishing. Idaho’s fourth largest lake was formed in 1948 when Cascade Dam was completed. The reservoir is home to three bird sanctuaries as well as trout, small mouthed bass, and yellow perch.
Your family will find more turbulent thrills at Kelly’s Whitewater Park—Idaho’s first, which opened in June 2010 and is free to the public. The man-made rapids give whitewater enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels a place to practice in a semi-controlled environment. Kelly’s Whitewater Park was built to honor the memory of Kelly Brennan, an outdoor enthusiast who died in an automobile accident in Utah.
For hikers, picturesque Crown Point Trail offers great views of Lake Cascade and West Mountain. An easy 2.4 mile shoreline trail, Crown Point Trail provides access to sandy beaches for fishing, picnicking, or birdwatching. To get to Crown Point Trail, turn off Highway 55 onto Lake Way Road (north Cascade) and follow ½ mile to Crown Point parking area. The trailhead is next to the camping area.
Golfing options include the 9-hole Cascade Golf Course with magnificent scenic views of West Mountain across Lake Cascade; Osprey Meadows at Tamarack, a challenging par-72 signature course designed by Robert Trent Jones II; and the 18-hole course at Jug Mountain Ranch, northeast of Cascade.
If you didn’t pack a picnic, try the pepperoni pizza or Hawaiian chicken sandwich at the Whistle Stop Café or enjoy a salad bar, soup, and homemade pie at Gramma’s Family Restaurant.
For overnighters, the Ashley Inn is a special spot where families can celebrate special times. Owners Katrin and Ashley Thompson love entertaining. “That’s what it’s all about—helping to create family bonds and memories.” The Victorian style Ashley Inn offers modern amenities including a guest computer with internet access. Guests are welcome to play the baby grand piano in the lobby. Common areas are furnished with antiques. Open 24 hours, the heated indoor pool is surrounded by storefronts reminiscent of small town America. Freshly baked cookies and frosty milk are served every evening in the lobby. Family friendly breakfasts include Belgian waffles with honey, fresh fruit, and hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Campers and RVers can book riverside sites at the Water’s Edge RV Resort. Canoes and kayaks are available for guests of the Water’s Edge and Ashley Inn. As you paddle the peaceful Payette, you might spot river otters, pelicans, Canadian Geese, or trumpeter swans and reflect on the adventures you’ve had in Cascade.