Although briefly visible from Interstate 5 in Castella but known only to people trekking the PCT and Mt. Shasta locals, the Trinity Divides' Boulder Peak maintains a lonely vigil above the Seven Lakes Basin. Rising dramatically from the cool waters of Echo Lake, the mountain is one of the most prominent peaks in the region. The sheer cliff on the peaks’ northern face is nearly 1,200 feet. The southern side is steep, but not sheer, which provides scrambling access to the summit. Views from the top include the Trinity Alps, the Trinity Divide, the Grey Rocks, Lassen Peak, the Castle Crags and Mt. Shasta.
The Trinity Divides' Boulder Peak is not to be confused with the Boulder Peak that is the highest point in the Marble Mountains. It is an unfortunate tendency in the Klamath Mountains to not only employ fairly unoriginal names but to repeat them frequently. The term "boulder" is one of the more over-abused terms in the area. Nontheless, the peak is a worthy destination, in spite of its' name.
Boulder Peak marks the termination of the southern rim of the Seven Lakes Basin. The same glaciers that carved out the Castle Crags, which lie immediately to the east, probably carved the Basin, which serves as the source of Castle Creek. The northern rim of the Basin is the long ridge extending west from the enormous bulk of the Castle Crags themselves. Closing the gap between the two ridges is the main crest of the Trinity Divide. While the glacially carved basin does contain some excellent, cold lakes, claiming that there are seven of them is rather bold. Only five of the bodies of water can properly be called lakes and of these, only Upper and Lower Seven Lakes, Helen and Echo Lake are reasonably deep. The rest of the water in the Basin consists of small, shallow pools. Nonetheless, a trip along the PCT to the Seven Lakes is an easy hike with spectacular scenery in all directions. Climbing Boulder Peak is a worthy addition to a visit to the Seven Lakes Basin.
Like the cliffs above the basin, Boulder Peak is composed of a dark granitic rock. Typical of the Klamath Mountains, the area is a confusing mélange of rock types. While the Boulder Peak and the nearby Castle Crags is granitic, the northern rim of the Seven Lakes Basin is metamorphic. Further north, the Eddy Range is composed of serpentine rocks and south of Boulder Peaks the massive Grey Rocks are sedimentary rocks.
Boulder Peak is one of the more prominent summits in the Trinity Divide. This region is the eastern most subrange of the Klamath Mountains. Sometimes called the Trinity Mountains, the Divide is not to be confused with the Trinity Alps, which lie directly to the west of the Divide and compose much of the views from the PCT en route to Boulder Peak. Two rivers, the Klamath and the Trinity, as well as their various tributaries dominate the Klamath Mountains. The Trinity Alps provide the bulk of the water that flows in the Trinity River. On the other hand, while the Trinity Divide does provide some water to the river it is even more important sense it forms the divide between the Trinity River’s watershed and watershed of the Sacramento River. The waters on the west side of the range ultimately find there way to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Klamath River while the waters on the east side reach the sea through the Sacramento River at San Francisco Bay. The Trinity Divide is topped by Mt. Eddy, the highest peak in the Klamath Mountains.
From the town of Mt. Shasta, head west on W. Lake, crossing over I-5. At the stop sign, turn left onto Old Stage Road. After 0.25 miles, veer right onto WA Barr Road. Continue south, crossing over the dam that impounds the Sacramento River and forms Lake Siskiyou. At the intersection with Castle Lake Road, stay straight. The road becomes Forest Road 26. Follow this road for nearly 12 miles. A signed fork indicates Gumboot Lake is 0.5 miles to the left. Continue to the right, climbing up the cirque that contains the Gumboot Lakes. The PCT Gumboot Trailhead is located at the summit with a good parking lot.
The Seven Lakes Basin is located in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. However, a small portion containing part of the route leading to Boulder Peak and down into the Basin itself is located on private land. It seems the property owners have not attempted to regulate travel across their land at all, since the maintained trails pass through their holdings. Nonetheless, tread carefully while descending to Upper Seven Lake or climbing up to Helen Lake.
A permit is required for campfires.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Mount Shasta Ranger Station
204 West Alma
Mt. Shasta, CA 96067
Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the area. The nearest campground is found on the eastern end of Gumboot Lake.
When To GoThe Trinity Divide is often buried in snow until mid-June. The hiking season generally lasts from then until October. The road to Gumboot Lake is not plowed and access to Gumboot Saddle is difficult before the temptures increase.
-Shasta-Trinity National Forest