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  • Address: 605 N 3rd St | McCall, ID 83638
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 350 | McCall, ID 83638
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Four Hot Tips on “How to Dog” in McCall

Like any other member of the family, many of us LOVE to take our dogs along on our adventures. While the McCall area falls on the dog-friendly side of the spectrum, it’s still important for you and your dog to understand how to be good neighbors. Here are some quick tips on how to adventure together while keeping other dogs and people safe and comfortable:

#1) Leashes Are Required More Often Than Not 

While McCall is surrounded by wild areas, it’s not the Wild West- thus, the leash law. All dogs must be on a leash within the city limits of McCall. The leash law applies at the city’s lakefront parks like Rotary Park, Art Roberts Park, Legacy Park, and Brown’s Park. Additionally, dogs are not allowed on the sandy parts of the beaches at city parks, even while on leash. Many people are surprised to learn that leashes are also required at area state parks, and that pets are not allowed on beaches or in swim areas at Ponderosa State Park, Cascade Lake State Parks and yes, North Beach, too. When in doubt, look for signs or keep your dog on a lead for everyone’s safety. 

Where CAN We Go Off-Leash? 

Fortunately for water-loving pooches, there is one spot where dogs CAN enjoy Payette Lake without breaking any rules.

Payette Lake: “Dog Zone” Access East of the Marina

Off-leash access for dogs in Payette Lake IS allowed at one stretch of beach just steps from downtown. The designated dog swimming area is located between Mile High Marina and Brown’s Park just east of Legacy Park. Please obey the signage and be considerate of others when visiting this small but popular beach. If your dog isn’t tolerant of other dogs and children, you’ll want to visit during off-peak hours.

High Mountain Lakes and Creeks

High alpine lakes surrounded by Forest Service land are great places to throw a stick for dogs who love swimming. Check out Little Payette Lake, Upper Payette Lake, Brundage Reservoir, Goose Lake, or explore some creeks and rivers in the Payette National Forest to take a quick splash. Try to avoid campgrounds and boat launches or docks for everyone’s safety, and give anglers a wide berth so your splashing dog doesn’t scare away the fish.


While we all like to think of mountain lakes and creeks as having “crystal clear mountain water,” dog owners need to be aware that harmful bacteria and algae blooms can be found here. Avoid letting your dog drink from any outdoor water source to avoid the dreaded giardia, and once water temperatures begin to warm, be aware that cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms can be a potentially deadly issue, particularly in late summer at Lake Cascade. Check for current advisories. 

McCall Unleashed Dog Park 

Another spot your furry friends CAN run off-leash is at the new dog park at the McCall Rehab and Care Center. It’s a lovely, wooded spot with benches inside a spacious fenced area. But what’s truly delightful about this location is that visitors are encouraged to bring their dogs up to the Care Center deck to meet the residents. Parking is available at the Care Center lot at 418 Floyd Street. There’s a second pedestrian entrance behind Rite Aid for those accessing from McCall’s expansive system of walking paths. 

#2) Trail Etiquette for Dogs (and their two-legged friends)

This trail tip is both simple and complicated. The simple part: If leashes are required on certain trails, keep your dog leashed. Period. City walking paths require leashes and dogs must be on a leash (no longer than 6’) at Ponderosa State Park.  

Things get a little trickier on Forest Service trails, where leashes are not required. In those areas, you still need to keep your dog under control and within a line of sight. When another trail user approaches – dog or dog-less – make sure your dog is under your command, either by leash or voice, and step to the side. Be polite and let them know if your dog is friendly or not. (And it never hurts to smile, McCall dog folk are a friendly bunch!)

Some other considerations unique to our area: 

Wildlife Encounters – Keep your dog on trail and don’t them bother the wildlife or trample natural areas. Dogs have a natural urge to chase baby deer, often with tragic consequences. 

Grazing Livestock – Domestic sheep are grazed on public lands in this area and are often guarded by large white livestock protection dogs. If your dog gets too close to the band or tries to chase sheep, the guard dogs may perceive it as a threat and attack. Keep your dog leashed and close to you until you are no longer in view of the sheep band. 

#3) Pack in It, Pack it Out

A lot of parks and trailheads offer bags and disposal bins, but pet owners should bring extra bags with them EVERY TIME. Let’s face it, dogs don’t always do their doodie close to the garbage cans. Which brings us to another key point. DO NOT bag your pup’s poop and leave it by the side of the trail- there is no poop bag fairy. Pack it ALL the way out. 

#4) Watch the Weather 

Most of the time the cool mountain air feels refreshing, but McCall does experience the occasional heat wave. Watch out for hot paws on sidewalks and paved paths. Excessive panting can signal dehydration or heat stroke, and of course, never leave your dog in a hot car. 

If you find yourself in need of booties or other pet supplies, have no fear. McCall Pet Outfitters & Supply is open seven days a week and conveniently located in the heart of downtown at 200 Lenora Street.