To find the trailhead from Interstate 5, head to Yreka, California. At the south end of Yreka is an exit for California Highway 3. Take this exit and go west towards Fort Jones. Fort Jones is 16 miles from Yreka and at the south end of Fort Jones take a right turn on the paved Scott River Road. Follow this road for 14.1 miles (stay to the right where Quartz Valley Road forks to the left). There is a pointer for a road (44N45) to Indian Scotty Campground and Lovers Camp, turn left here and cross the Scott River. Continue on this paved narrow road past Indian Scotty Campground for 1.6 miles. Turn left on the gravel road 44N53Y and climb up 2.2 miles to the Boulder Creek Trailhead. Several cars can park at the trailhead. 2WD vehicles can get to this trailhead.
This is a great hike but expect some exercise and be prepared. The Boulder Creek Trailhead is at 3,800 feet and the trail starts on the right side of the forest service sign. This trail is steep and climbs over 3,000 feet in 3 miles. The trail is easy to follow and climbs about 200 feet up to an old logging road. You only follow the logging road for a few hundred feet and then it is back onto a steep trail that switchbacks up Boulder Creek and you gain another 700 ft when you hit the old logging road again.
Stay on the logging road as it switchbacks up the mountain and finally you get back onto a trail again and enter the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area at about 5,500 ft. You start to get glimpses of Marble Mountain off to the west and that takes your mind off this climb that seems to go on forever. The trail continues switchbacks up until you finally reach a ridgeline at about 6,300 ft.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the next ¼ mile that is fairly level. Next you come to a fork that is marked. It indicates going Left to Lower Wright Lake, or Right to Deep Lake. You can get to Boulder Peak by going either way. The preferred way is to go left up to Lower Wright Lake. After you tag the summit, you can come down Second Valley Creek and the Deer Lake Trail if you want. That is what I did.
Continue towards Lower Wright Lake and the scenery changes. You break out of the forest cover into fields of wildflowers. I mean LOTS of wildflowers. The further you go the more there are. They obscure the trail in places so pay attention to where it goes. As you progress up the valley you will see Boulder Peak standing in front of you and as you continue climbing up to 7,000 ft you will see Lower Wright Lake appear. It looks like you could swan dive off of Boulder Peak and plunge 1,500 feet down into Lower Wright Lake.
The trail switchbacks away from Boulder Peak and up to Upper Wright Lake. Continue around the lake on the north and east sides and then up to a ridgeline at about 7,700 ft. Take another breather and enjoy the view of Mt. Shasta in the distance.
The trail forks here, you want the one that heads southwest or to your right towards Boulder Peak. This is easy walking for a ways until you get right up to Boulder Peak and then it is uphill again. Continue up until you are about 100 ft from the top of the ridge and then look up to your right. The summit is the black pile of rocks. There is no formal trail to the top, but there is a climbers trail that starts right among some large white and pink rocks next to the trail.
I was greeted on the summit by swarms of flying ants. I tagged the highest spot and retreated back a ways to have my lunch.
Return to the trailhead the same way you came up, or for the more adventurous of you follow my directions down along Second Valley Creek.
Second Valley Creek Valley is all wildflowers and can be a beautiful walk. Continue along the trail that brought you to the summit and cross the ridge. The trail drops off steeply into the valley below. Once you get to the valley the trail disappears and you are on your own to make your way down the valley. It is muddy around the creek and stay out of the brushy areas. I crossed to the west side of the creek about 1/3 the way down the valley and continued all the way to the mouth of the valley.
PAY ATTENTION HERE! The Deer Lake Trail crossed the mouth of the valley and it is important that you find it and follow it to your right back to the Boulder Creek Trail. If you miss it and come to a slope where the wildflowers stop and the forest begins, you have gone too far. Find the trail! The Deer Lake Trail actually climbs about 100 ft back up to the Boulder Creek Trail but this is the last climb of the day.
Trail Statistics: Boulder Creek Trail to the summit via Wright Lakes is about 6.7 miles and gains 4,500 feet. Second Creek Valley saves about ½ mile on the return trip to the car but adds 100 ft to the EG. Total time for me 7 ¼ hours.
Sunscreen, water, food, and comfortable hiking shoes, and the 10 essentials are all that is required. This area can be very warm in the summer, so be prepared. There are many places along the route to filter water, so you don’t have to carry an extra gallon of water with you.
There are lots of black bears in this area, but they are usually very shy and run away as soon as they see you. If you have a bear phobia, be prepared to deal with them. They usually don’t ransack vehicles and campsites looking for goodies either. In the early mornings, it is not unusual to see fresh bear prints on the trail as you hike up towards the lakes.
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