Hiking California's Trinity Alps Wilderness
by Dennis Lewon (Falcon Guides)
© Dennis Lewon/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We had a great time hiking to this lake. The hike starts out a little steep for awhile but then levels off to gradual inclines. Once you reach the last incline and you see the lake you will get a sigh of relief. The lake is beautiful with crystal clear water. The high mountain peaks are equally amazing. The hike took us about 3 hours, due to the fact that my son who was 8 at the time was with us. We startled a small bear during our hike in, and it ran off into the woods never to be seen again. Other than that there was not much wildlife, and no bugs in October. We pretty much had the lake to our selves, there was another party camping there across the lake for about a day. We fished the lake most of the time off the rocks and caught many Golden Trout, 5-8 inches in length. This was the only good spot for fishing with deep water, I couldn't get any bites anywhere else on the lake. We threw the fish on the fire in foil and they were delicious. The water was very clean and good to drink after we filterd and also boiled it just to be safe. If you stay to the right of the lake and follow the trail there is a very nice camp ground next to the lake and under the trees with a nice fire pit that had a grill someone had packed in. Also the camp was setup to hang your packs off the ground away from critters. There was enough room for our 3 tents, and could accommodate more. McDonald lake is a short hike and is a little smaller than Stoddard however we didn't fish that lake much, when I did I didn't catch anything or get a bite. I had more snags than anything. The night before our hike out a thunderstorm storm came in and drenched everything, the wind was powerful and making the trees sway. It was misty and sprinkled on our hike out, which was nice because it kept us very cool. The hike out is mostly downhill and took us about 1.5 hours to get out comparred to 3 coming in. This spot is the perfect getaway for a weekend! You will enjoy it.
We had a fine experience on this trail. The trail climbs but not too steeply, for the most part. The trail travels through mixed evergreen and mixed conifer forest. There are some very striking large cedars along the trail. Some of the meadows have really abundant pitcher plants.
Stoddard Lake was more like a 2.5 hour hike for us. The lake itself was very nice. We camped by the meadow where the outlet stream from McDonald Lake flows into Stoddard Lake. In early June there were no bugs, no horses, no Boy Scouts or anything. We shared the lake with one other party and barely knew they were there. The fish bit.
We hiked to McDonald Lake on a stroll and it's like a miniature Stoddard Lake where it seemed nobody ever camps.
Returning to the trailhead, we followed the old Stoddard Lake trail and enjoyed more pitcher plant meadows and gnarly old cedars. The old trail was a challenge to follow at times, and it saved distance but not time. We were glad we followed it.
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