“An loop hike past scenic East Boulder Lake to big views from the Pacific Crest Trail, returning via Middle Boulder Lake.”
— Bruce Hope
Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Commonly Backpacked
This trail is enters the Trinity Alps Wilderness and the usual federal wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply here; practice Leave No Trace (LNT) backcountry skills and ethics, camp 100 feet from fragile areas, bury human waste at least 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites. This trail is usually closed by snow between November and May.
This hike is on decent trails past two very scenic lakes in the northern Trinity Alps Wilderness. It can be done as a run, moderate day hike, or as an easy overnight backpack. During the early summer, you can expect to see large swaths of wildflowers in the meadows. East Boulder Lake is large and clear and perfect for swimming and fishing. The loop takes you to massive views from the Pacific Crest Trail on the crest of the Scott Mountains. Continuing on, you'll descend past Middle Boulder Lake which, although not quite as inviting as East Boulder, is still a cool place to stop if the day is hot. All in all, one of the best loop hikes in the northern Trinities.
Need to Know
If you plan to backpack, get a free permit at the USFS ranger station in Fort Jones, CA. Cows may be present during the summer months.
From the East Boulder Lake Trailhead, take the East Boulder Lake Trail #5575
two miles up the creek (south) to East Boulder Lake. From the lake, it is another 1.2 miles up to a pass at 7,100 feet and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
Note that the trail up to the PCT crosses a meadow just south of East Boulder Lake and may be a little hard to follow here—just keep going southeast and up, and you'll find it again. From the PCT, you'll have a great view of Mount Shasta to the east. Follow the PCT southwest for 2.2 miles to another pass at 7,420 feet with a "Middle Boulder Lake" sign—you can see the lake in the basin below. Descend 0.5 miles on the Middle Boulder Trail #5577
and look for a faint trail contouring off to the right (north).
There's an "East Boulder Lake" sign here but it is not immediately obvious. Follow this trail, the Boulder Tie Trail #5582
, for 1.6 miles through sage brush, along the base of a rock slide, and around a ridge back to East Boulder Lake. Then take the East Boulder Lake Trail #5575
back to the trailhead.