East Boulder Lake is in the Scott Mountain portion of the Trinity Alps. The trailhead is located near the town of Callahan and is a great trail for a simple day hike or a multi-night backpacking trip. There are actually multiple lakes along this trail loop, but I have only been to East Boulder Lake. My first time there was a solo overnight backpacking trip last summer. Although my dog was with me so I don’t know if that counts as being solo. The hike to East Boulder Lake is short. It’s only about 2 miles and is not really technical. It is, however, all uphill right from the start.
The beginning of the trail has you walking a very well marked path through a thickly wooded area. It is very shady and cool here which can be welcoming during the summer months. As you proceed up the trail you pass through two large meadows that are great for viewing deer as well as the free-range cattle that are allowed to graze the entire length of the trail. They also frequent the lake area where you will be camping if you stay overnight. That being said, you can expect to see a large amount of “cow pies” on this trip. The two nights I have spent at the lake have been beautiful and quiet. Both trips were during the end of the summer last year which meant very calm weather and not a lot of people.
The last quarter of a mile of the trail is the steepest and consists of both dirt and rocky switchbacks which bring you to East Boulder Lake. This lake is not the end of the trail, there is actually a large loop that you can hike which takes you out of the basin and up to several other lakes. But, as I mentioned before this is as far as I have traveled this trail to date. When you arrive at the top you are greeted by a beautiful, sprawling basin lined with rusty red colored rock faces and the lake itself.
Finding a camping spot around the lake can be challenging, especially if it is crowded. I counted roughly 4 camping spots that were obvious when walking around the shore of the lake. Not all of them are level so I highly recommend hammock camping here instead. Or, just be prepared to sleep on a bit of an angle if in a tent. The lake holds some decent fishing if you can hit it at the right time of year. It’s also a great way to cool off if hiking through the area during the summer months. Stargazing can be absolutely amazing from the lake during a clear night as well. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the sunsets from here! Both times I’ve camped here the sunset has been absolutely stunning.
So, if you’re looking for a short day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, you may want to consider East Boulder Lake. The views from the peaks and ridges in this area are often awe-inspiring and there is plenty to see along the trail. Just don’t forget that you may have some “mooing” neighbors from time to time up here that aren’t too good at cleaning up after themselves!