Boulder Lakes Trail is one of the easiest trails in the Trinity Alps and also one of its most popular. This 3.5-mile out-and-back trail starts out about a quarter mile south of Coffee Creek and features lush meadows, deep forests, and the pristine Boulder Lakes themselves (Boulder and Little Boulder), which are rimmed by white granite walls and also perfect for fishing or swimming. There are about six good campsites at Boulder Lake if you choose to do an overnight. The trail serves as a gateway to several other trails, taking one further into the Alps. These include the Lost and Found Lakes, Tapie Lake, and the Tapie Summit Trail. Many hikers and backpackers use the campsites at Boulder Lake as a base camp while pursuing these more aggressive day-hikes.
There are no fees for parking at the trailhead and no water along the route. Bring a water filter if you choose to take water from the lakes. Boulder Lake Trail can still have snow patches even in June, so check with the Forest Service before setting out. Bears are also known to frequent this area, so bear spray is advised, and if you camp overnight, bring a bear canister!
For a short and easy family day out and interaction with nature, this trail offers the perfect package. You can tag your dog along as well! Before making the trip, you need to contact the forest service to confirm the weather conditions expected for the day, carry some water or a water filter if you intend to experience the cool waters from the lakes along the trail. You can carry some money for the journey but be sure you will save some money on parking as no parking fee is charged at the trailhead. Bears have also been sighted roaming the area and it's advisable to carry some bear spray and bear canisters if you intend to spend the night in the wild. Informing the forest service of your intended camping plans will also be important.
Your last chance to get any supplies will be Shasta City or a smaller town when you take the northbound road on interstate 5. Proceed and make your exit at Stewart springs then turn left and drive under the freeway then take a right turn onto Old stage. Stay on this road for some a couple of hundred yards then take a left turn onto Stewart springs road. After approximately 4 miles the Forest Service road-17 will split but ensure you continue to the right for 22.7 miles, pass PCT Parks Creek trailhead and proceed past the canyon of The Trinity River. You will come to an intersection with Highway 3 where you will turn left and proceed for approximately 12 miles until you arrive at the Boulder Lake trailhead turnoff. Take that road(37N53) and continue on it for about 3.5 miles then turn right and continue straight ahead to the trailhead.
This trail is meant to be fun and the climb offers nothing short of serene views, fresh air, lush meadows, and bright white granite cliffs. After parking the trail eases onto the Shasta mountain with a gain of about 800ft for about 3.5 miles to Boulder lake. It begins with a large trailhead where you can also get all the information about the trail and immediately heads south down an old jeep trail. There have been occasional sighting of bears in this area and this has been attributed to the presence of Boulder Lake and campers. This should not concern you as the forest service is aware and always ready to help. The Bear spray might also come in handy anytime you spot any bears in the area. As you continue hiking the jeep trail will transition into a single walkway and guide you into a dense forest canopy that will mark the rest of your journey to Boulder Lake.
As you hike, take in the heavy forest aroma and earthy smell that surrounds you and sunrays that pierce through the canopy as the birds sing. The equally level trail is easy and cool and will continue for another mile before changing direction and heading north and further along, will cap off at a bare and rocky opening. From here it is about 0.5 miles to Little Boulder lake and a large granite headwall arising from its south side will signify your arrival. As you draw closer, the peaceful waters are enchanting and give you a sense of peace, calm, and fulfilment. You are allowed to camp here or proceed to climb to the satellite lakes above the main lake. Going back to the intersection at the bare cliff opening, where the main trail intersects the little boulder lake trail, the paths take a gentle slope towards the Boulder lake basin where you can comfortably camp in 6 spots around the lake. This can also mark your resting place before you embark on the journey back or proceed to Tapie. White here enjoy the lush meadows that surround the Boulder lake and the soft breeze flowing from the lake to the surroundings. If you decide to push yourself to explore further, the trail will continue under the dense canopy walk until you come to the lakes tributary and the biggest meadow in the region. From here you can decide to go back the same way you came or proceed with the hike.
This surely going to be a day well spent.
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