Boulder Peak (Trinity Divide, CA) 20-Jul-2021

There were a few hikes we wanted to do west of Mount Shasta, California. Rather than spend hours driving back and forth to individual hikes, we basecamped in a hotel (as even tough and stupid has its limits) in Mount Shasta and did three different hikes from there. Not only did this avoid a lot of driving, it also meant that we could arrive at the respective trailheads way early – in the cool of the morning – without having to roll out at o-dark-thirty. These early starts also got us back to town before the day really heated-up. We were also fortunate that this trip coincided with a brief cooling spell (90°F (32°C) versus 105°F (40°C)) and a wind shift that blew the wildfire smoke eastward (sorry North Dakota 😯), giving us almost clear skies. So something of bright spot in an otherwise trying summer. Not to mention us not having to eat my cooking for a few days. 😉

Our first hike was to Boulder Peak (6,968 ft / 2,124 m). Not the highest point in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, but the high point on the ridge immediately south of the Seven Lakes Basin in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This is also another of the Ashland Hiking Group’s favorite hikes.

The drive to the trailhead at Gumboot Saddle is paved and from there we made our way south along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), around Mumbo Basin, to a saddle above and west of the Seven Lakes Basin. We were passed by a half dozen thru hikers – also out early to beat the heat.

A clear morning at the trailhead
Gumboot Lake
A weak lenticular over Mount Shasta
Along the PCT
The Mumbo Lakes
Approaching the saddle above Seven Lakes Basin

At this saddle, there is a sign that points toward Lake Helen and Upper Seven Lake. We turned south here and followed that trail (#6W12, which is mostly old road) down, around Lake Helen, and up to the saddle above the lake. From there, we followed a faint – but obvious once we found it – use trail up to the ridge that ends at Boulder Peak. We worried about having to thrash our way through manzanita but all of that was low-growing and easily avoided. The last 300 feet (90 m) to the summit was a walk up pretty stable rocks.

Boulder Peak from the saddle above Seven Lakes Basin
On our way to the saddle above Lake Helen
On the use trail to the ridge
We followed the curving ridge to the base of Boulder
Mount Shasta from the summit ridge
The last bit of scramble to the top
Done!
Benchmark

Despite the presence of huge wildfires east and south of us, the view from the summit was only slightly obscured by a light haze. That, combined with a gentle, cooling breeze, made being up here pretty nice. Much better than we might otherwise have hoped for. 😃

To the east: the west side (1) of Castle Crags
To the north: (1) PCT, (2) Mount Eddy, (3) Black Butte, (4) Mount Shasta
To the west: (1) saddle above Seven Lakes Basin, (2) saddle above Lake Helen, (3) Upper Seven Lake
Mount Shasta from Boulder Peak

After a while on the summit, we headed back along the ridge, then down past Lake Helen to re-connect with the #6W12, which we followed back to the PCT. On the way back to the trailhead, we passed a mix of a dozen or so day hikers and backpackers headed, we guess, to the Seven Lakes Basin. By now the sun was blazing hot and there was a lot of sitting in the shade going on. From the PCT, we got a view of the last vestiges of the Lava Fire still burning on Mount Shasta’s southwest slope.

Back along the ridge
View from above Lake Helen: (1) Mount Shasta, (2) Point 6785, (3) Castle Crags, (4) Lake Helen
Lake Helen
Back along the PCT
The Lava Fire (1) still burning on Mount Shasta

Overall, we did 9.1 miles (14.6 km) round-trip, with 1,450 feet (442 m) of elevation gain on a cool, sunny day with much better views than expected. We were back in town before the day reached its peak air temperature. This was a really good hike, what with the PCT, some easy cross-country and route finding, a lake, and big views. Definitely worth the effort! 😁

Our route to and from Boulder Peak
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4 comments

  1. Thanks! It was just a 3-day gap – the heat and smoke came back just after we got home. The problem with summer fires as the “new normal” is that there soon won’t be any forests left to hike in. 😢

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  2. Great views ( and photos- as always ! ) Nice that you found a gap in the smoke and heat. Sadly I think large summer fires are the new normal for the west

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  3. We’ve hiked Mount Eddy a few times and always enjoyed the good trail to it and the expansive views from the top. Boulder Peak was an effort to try a different summit in the same area – a little harder to reach but with good views too. 🙂

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  4. Wow, that’s a beautiful hike! Those cobalt skies in your photos are outstanding. One of our favorite annual hikes was to Mt. Eddy via Deadfall Lakes. Also have great memories of backpacking trips there just for a fun and easy overnight.

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