Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley

Boulder Lakes, Jun 14-16, 2015

South of Coffee Creek in the Trinities
1.9 miles to Boulder Lake (6070’)
Elevation gain 600’

Drive: Take the 3rd Yreka exit to Hwy 3. Stay on Hwy 3 through Fort Jones and Callahan. Continue on Hwy 3 just past Coffee Creek, where you turn right onto a road signed to Boulder Lake. Follow the gravel road approximately 10 miles to its end and a large parking lot. The total drive was 3 hours long.

Denise Fry, Elisabeth Zinser, and Mary Ehlers had a grand time in a beautiful area of small lakes, ridges, birds, wildflowers, and views. The first 1-1/2 mile of the trail climbs steadily for a gain of 600 feet. The last portion of the trail descends fairly quickly, partly down a granite-filled trail. Along the trail we had views of Shasta, Tapie Peak (6500’) and other granite domes.

Spacious campsites are just off to the right at the lake, with room for a number of tents. There is another small campsite on the opposite side of the lake, but the ground is not as flat. When we arrived on Sunday, there was no one else there. On Monday, a family came in and camped at the far camp site. We met two fellows on the trail who had been in the area since Friday, and they said there were no other people all weekend. And we were greeted by two teams of California Conservation Corp folks with horses and mules making their weekly delivery of food and supplies to those working in the outback.

The lake is lovely, backed by Tapie Peak, circled with tall trees, and dotted with lily pads which were in yellow bud. The only downside was there was a lot of pollen around the lake edge, so we got water at the lake outlet, which was close-by but a somewhat difficult scramble. There were numerous birds, including two osprey, woodpeckers, and flicker.

We day-hiked the same day to Little Boulder Lake, approximately 1 mile. It is even more pristine than Boulder, with clearer water. Great place to for a cool dip of tired feet. Two blue herons greeted us by circling the lake a number of times. There was one camp site.

The next day we hiked the Tracy Trail. It follows the east side of Boulder Lake and then continues south, up a steep slope to the top of the ridge, at which point it descends and joins the Poison Canyon Trail. The total length of the trail is about 1-1/2 miles, but the steep portion is a real challenge, about 1/2 mile long and gaining 840 feet up granite rocks and stairsteps. The trail ascends to the ridge right next to Tapie Peak, so the view of the peak and granite fields is breathtaking. Views behind to Boulder Lake and distant ranges are also stunning. Along the trail is plenty of manzanita, some in bloom, and numerous wildflowers in bloom.

Descending on the other side of the ridge are views of more ridges, bookended by Ycatapom Peak (7596’) and Thumb Rock (7679’).

To read about going further on a loop around Thumb Rock and by a number of lakes, go to Steve and Maria’s description of their August, 2014, trip to Boulder Lake.

On June 16, we walked out, all of us very happy with a trip beyond our expectations. And yet ahead was a surprise: To add some excitement, we ran across a forest service trail crew in the process of removing a giant downed white pine from the trail. They stopped their work so we could cross the ravine below the trail and the tree, and back up to the trail. With excited curiosity, we stayed to watch the final stage of cinching a cable until the tree finally started to move, then roll, then crash with thundering sound and flying dust down the ravine where shortly it was stopped by standing trees. I doubt any of us will forget that mighty giant or the kindness of the workers.

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