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Boulder Lakes

Trinity Alps Wilderness

July 2nd, 2017

5.5 miles
1000 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:00

Starting elevation
5821 feet
Max elevation
6479 feet

Rating: 6/10

Directions: From Weaverville, drive north on Highway 3 past Trinity Center, turning left before Coffee Creek, onto the unpaved road FR 37N52. The unpaved road is a little over 10 miles to the trailhead (you will need to turn right onto FR 37N53). Stay on the main road (there are unsigned side roads). There is a large dirt lot at the end. [Warning: don't trust Google Map directions]   View Driving Map

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GPX File

There are multiple lakes in the Trinity Alps referred to as Boulder Lakes. There are Boulder Lake and Little Boulder Lake, which are the ones we were planning to visit. Then there's also East Boulder Lake. I unfortunately got confused and started driving toward there before turning around and finding the right trailhead.

After all that driving, we still had to go up a 10+ mile dirt and gravel road. Thankfully we only saw 2 cars coming in the opposite direction on our way up. When we got to the big parking area, we saw about 15 other cars there. There are no signs at the trailhead - just a blank board next to the trail.

We started climbing immediately, and soon saw a couple backpackers descending toward us. In general, we'd see a lot of backpackers in the Trinity Alps. We probably saw many more backpackers than day hikers. It's just that kind of wilderness. Or perhaps it's the long dirt roads that discourage the day hikers. After a little over a mile, we reached an intersection. To the left was Little Boulder Lake, but we'd visit that later. Instead, we stayed straight and, after encountering another intersection and taking the right fork, we started descending toward Boulder Lake.

Hiking up the trail

View from the trail

There were people already set up backpacking at the lake. We walked along the left shore and found a spot next to the lake to eat a late lunch. It's not a spectacular lake. Mostly lined by trees all around. A hill rising above the opposite shore.

Boulder Lake

After our break, we returned to the intersection and turned right toward Little Boulder Lake. The trail descends briefly, then goes up a bit, then plunges steeply downhill. Along the way we had views of snow-covered Mount Shasta clearly visible to the northeast.

Mount Shasta

The trail flattens out and we reached Little Boulder Lake. While smaller, it's a prettier setting than the bigger Boulder Lake. The camp sites seem nicer, with more space. The hillside goes right to the edge of the water on the opposite shore. A couple of kids were swimming with inflatables in the lake as we took a break here.

Little Boulder Lake

Little Boulder Lake

After the break, we returned to the main trail, then started the final descent toward the trailhead. Near the end, we saw a couple with a baby in a stroller. They were backpacking, and stopped to ask us how far it was to go. I estimated they were only 1/10th of the way to the lake. And it was late in the afternoon, but they had plenty of daylight. Still, it looked tough going pushing a stroller up the hill. I probably should have mentioned to them that Little Boulder might have been a better option for camping, as there were fewer people there. I'm not sure they would have heeded that advice, anyway, though.

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