A Local Gem - Lake Cleveland
Nestled in the Southernmost portion of the beautiful Sawtooth Mountain Range in the Albion Mountains sits the delightfully scenic Lake Cleveland of South Central Idaho. Lake Cleveland is a popular alpine lake that attracts many to this location as a summer destination. Visitors enjoy heading outdoors for activity opportunities, including fishing, hiking, camping, and swimming. Surrounding the lake are beautiful picturesque views of the stunning jagged rock faces of the Sawtooth Mountain Range sitting at 8,300 feet above sea level. In the Spring, this area is covered in a beautiful sea of wildflowers and inhabited by a host of area birdlife, deer, and little creatures meandering about. Lake Cleveland could easily be described as the “ideal escape to the wilderness” in this absolutely stunning not to be missed destination. Mount Harrison is located less than 2 miles from Lake Cleveland, and is undoubtedly one not to be missed, as the remarkable 360-degree panoramic views are unforgettable.
The steep and winding road leads to the summit of the mountain boasting incredible breathtaking views across Cassia County, where the city of Albion sits as part of the Magic Valley. The Magic Valley is home to Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls counties. From the city of Pocatello, Idaho, the trip to Lake Cleveland runs around 97 +/- miles, one-way, though it is well worth the trip even when starting within the Boise area. If traveling from the Twin Falls area, the trip runs around 75 +/- miles, one way. As the areas surrounding Lake Cleveland are home to open pasture grazing, there is a chance of passing cattle out and about enjoying a meal or perhaps crossing the roads.
Take a break from the commotion of weekday activities and find yourself surrounded by nature at Lake Cleveland after an enjoyable scenic road trip to get to this wonderfully beautiful destination. The lake serves as an excellent opportunity for relaxing or having a picnic by the waters edge, fishing, and non-motorized boating. Breaking out the kyack, canoe, raft, and floaties is permitted. If you enjoy exploring trails, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from. Find a host of trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, exploring, equestrian use, and limited OHV use.
Brief Area Campground Summaries:
Lake Cleveland Campground East Side features seventeen campsites, some of which are ideally sized to accommodate Rv’s and trailers. Only seven of these sites are reservable. There are several campsites on the east side that boast views of the lake waters, though, for the most part, the campsites are scattered amid the pleasant forest pines. Seven of the campsites are reservable, and the remaining are first come first serve. Picnic tables and fire pits accompany each campground, and there is ample space for utter relaxation and enjoyment.
Lake Cleveland Campground West features nine campsites that, due to the steep terrain, do not accommodate larger vehicles as there is a sharp turnaround. The west campground sits ideally with stunning views across the lake waters. All of the campsites at this location are designated first come first serve.
Further out and away from the lake sits Twin Lakes Campground, which features camping sites, fire rings, and picnic tables. Discover three horse corrals at this location for added convenience. Located at the back of the Twin Lakes Campground, find direct access to the 26 +/- mile-long Skyline Trail, which ends at the City of National Rocks Reserve. This far-reaching trail is ideal for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain bike riding, and motorcycle riding. If planning a trek on one of the area trails, be sure to bring plenty of water and any necessary extras.
Also in the area is Thompson Flat Campground, a wonderfully unique location if getting out into the wilderness is the goal. This expansive campground features 25 generously sized sites, 21 individual units, and four double units in total. As this campground is popular in the warmer months, you may consider reserving one of the eight campsites that allow for reservations before heading out on your adventure. The campsites each feature designated fire pits with grills as well as picnic tables and vault toilets. The Thompson Flat Campground offers spacious sites ideal for RV or tent camping. Discover nearby trails (day hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, equestrian use, and general exploration, designated OHV Trails), enjoy the wildlife, or simply take a break and take in the surroundings at Thompson Flat Campground. The campsites offer a secluded feel as the area is densely wooded and provides additional privacy; some sites more than others. This campground may go missed mainly as the entry is not clearly marked and can be misleading.
If in search of additional campground options, you may consider checking out Bennett Springs Campground, which sits a little further out from the Lake Cleveland area, though offers a more remote feel near the crystal clear waters of Bennett Springs Creek. Fishing is allowed in the creek waters. This lovely area is nestled amid forest pine and boasts beautiful aspens and wildflowers. The sounds of the trickling waters add to the overall peacefulness of this area. Here you will find six first come first serve campsites with fire rings and a vault toilet. This campground is pet friendly; always be sure to follow the rules as posted.
Surrounding Area Destination Options
There are several destinations that surround Lake Cleveland that may also be added to the weekend adventure list. The popular Pomerlle Ski Area sits a mere 3 +/- miles from the lake and boasts area trails ideal for mountain biking, hiking, and area exploration. Be sure to check open and closure dates, as well as road conditions, prior to heading out.
The Mount Harrison Research Natural Center and Interpretive Area are located around 2 +/- miles from the Lake Cleveland area. Mt. Harrison boasts a fire lookout post which was established back in the early 1930s and then updated in the 1960s to a look tower which is open to visitors on varied weekends.