Consider Boulder Lake Trinity Alps, in Northern California, as a sample to what lies ahead in the Trinity Alps wilderness area. Consequently one of the most popular hiking trails in the wilderness for obvious reasons that it’s a shorter distance to reach the alpine lake and as you would expect, beautiful lake with mountain backdrop.
Given how popular this trail is in Trinity Alps, it’s rare to be alone and have the entire lake to yourself, especially in the peak summer months, even on weekdays.
Boulder Lake Trinity Alps
Welcome to Trinity Alps wilderness. Why am I saying that ? Because, Boulder Lake is one of the most popular among the first timers visiting the park due to the accessibility.
How long is the Boulder Lake Trinity Alps trail ?
It’s a 3.9 mile round trip from the trailhead.
How high is the Boulder Lake Trinity Alps ?
The highest elevation you will reach on this hike is 6356 ft. However, the hike itself starts at 5766ft.
Total round trip elevation gain will be approximately 859 feet.
When to hike Boulder Lake Trinity Alps ?
Ideally when there is no snow on the trails. Each year the snow situation tends to be different. Your best bet would be to call the trinity alps wilderness visitor center to get information on the snow situation on the trails, especially if you are planning to go there before the peak summer months.
If there is snow on the trails, it will be hard to follow the directions. And crampons might be necessary to pass the trail. So, I don’t recommend hiking it in the winter months for beginners, families with small children or those who don’t have crampons or spikes.
Is it worth hiking to Boulder Lake Trinity Alps ?
Yes, it absolutely is. As the trailhead starts, you might wonder if you are on a fire road initially. This is an abandoned jeep road for the first half a mile.
Rest of the trail is under the dense forest canopy giving enough shades on a hot summer day as you hike to the lake.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a popular hike and that essentially means there will always be company for you. But, that doesn’t spoil the beauty of the hike and lake.
Half way to Boulder lake, you will see the trail head to Little Boulder lake, which gets much less love compared to this Boulder lake in discussion. Well, it’s a little longer to get to the little boulder lake and the campsites here are not as established as the Boulder lake.
Where to Camp at Boulder Lake Trinity Alps ?
There are several campsites near Boulder Lake. This is all wilderness camping, so it’s usually first come first serve and you occupy any flattish area to sleep for the night.
However, if the Boulder Lake is indeed overflowing and you can’t find spots, Little Boulder lake is an option.
Home made dehydrated food have been our staple on camping and backpacking trips. And just with boiling water, it works wonders.
Fire Permit for Boulder Lake Trinity Alps
Self issued Wilderness Permits and California State Campfire Permits are required that is available at the trail head. This fire permit is technically required even for using camping stove.
You can pick up the permits from Weaverville or Big Bar Ranger Stations, or at the Forest Service Supervisor’s Office in Redding.
Drinking Water Source
Only drinking water is to get it directly from the lake or from the near by creeks. However, the water needs to be filtered at the very least.
If you are camping with kids or those with sensitive stomach, I highly recommend boiling the filtered water, just to be on a safer side.
If you are doing a backpacking trip that requires cooking, cleaning the utensils etc., I recommend carrying a water filter pump, so you can filter out a lot of water quickly.
However, if you are a day hiker and just need to fill a bottle of water at a time, a personal water filer might work for you.
Is the Boulder Lake Trinity Alps Trail Kids Friendly ?
It actually depends on your kids. It’s not all flat and there is a good elevation gain and the hike also starts at an altitude to start with.
If you kids are used to these kind of hikes, then yes, go for it. I wouldn’t expect my toddler to walk all the way to the lake by himself. May be a combination of carrying him for a few and have him walk for a few would work out better for us.
But, slightly older and active kids with reasonable fitness level can certainly complete it.
To incentivize them to finish the hike, carry their favorite snacks with you, just in case.
Is the Boulder Lake Trinity Alps Trail Dog Friendly ?
The entire Trinity Alps allows dogs that can listen to the owner. So, from what I have seen leash is not required. However, depending on the trail and difficulty level, use your best judgement to see if your dog can handle the elevation gain and the altitude. Also on hiking trails, there may not be immediate water source, so you may have to take water will you for the dog too, especially on a hot summer days.
How to get to Boulder Lake Trinity Alps Trailhead ?
Best way to find your way to the trail head is to use the GPS coordinates.
The last 10-miles or so section is all unpaved dirt road in the deep forest. So, you would have to drive slowly. You don’t need a 4-wheel drive or anything. Regular sedan can get through. Just go slow, you should be good.
Day hikes from Boulder Lake Trinity Alps
If you are headed to Boulder Lake for overnight stay, you can explore some of the other nearby lakes as there will be less weight to carry.
Here are my picks:
Little Boulder Lake
Lake Elevation: 6,328’
GPS Coordinates for the lake: 41° 2.860’N, 122° 47.805’W
Roundtrip distance from trailhead: 3.5 miles
Maximum Elevation Gain: 687’
Big Boulder Lake
Lake Elevation: 6,070’
GPS Coordinates for the lake: 41° 3.011’N, 122° 48.418’W
Roundtrip distance from trailhead: 3.5 miles
Maximum Elevation Gain: 586’
Lost, Found and Tapie Lakes
Head on the Tracy Trail beyond the Boulder Lakes to access these less known 3 lakes. Mind it, it’s relatively harder trail with over 1000ft elevation gain.
Found Lake Elevation: 6,866’
GPS Coordinates for Found Lake: 41° 2.608’N, 122° 48.986’W
Roundtrip distance from trailhead: 6.5 miles via Boulder Lake
Maximum Elevation Gain: 1,060’
Summit Elevation: 7,435’
Peak GPS Coordinates: 41° 2.381’N, 122° 48.856’W
Roundtrip distance from trailhead: 7.5 miles via Boulder Lake
Maximum Elevation Gain: 1,650’
Boulder Lake Trinity Alps Fishing
Fishing is permitted at Boulder Lake Trinity Alps. However, there are a few regulations to be followed. I highly recommend reading which fish needs to be released back into the water if caught, here.
Most people attempt Boulder Lake as a day hike. However, this can be one of the most beginner friendly backpacking options too.
If you are looking for a slightly moderate level of backpacking option (compared to Boulder Lake), Canyon Creek Lake Trinity Alps is a great alternative hike.
- Expect Mosquitoes in early summer and take bug spray or mosquito repellent with you
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