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Tangle Blue Lake

Trinity Alps Wilderness

July 6th, 2017

7.5 miles
1440 vertical feet
Total Time: 5:07

Starting elevation
4586 feet
Max elevation
5778 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Weaverville, drive north on Highway 3 past Trinity Center. As the road starts to climb steeply up toward Scott Mountain Summit, you'll find an obscure-looking dirt road to the left between two metal bridges. If you reach the second metal bridge you'll know you've gone too far. The road may not be signed, but there was a tiny FR 39N20 etched into a nearby sign when we went. The unpaved section of road is a little under 4 miles.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

The hardest part about this hike may have been getting to the trailhead. First of all, the dirt road is not signed. There's a bend in the highway where there's a dirt road off to the side, but you're thinking that can't be it. The road is between two metal bridges. The only clue is, if you look carefully, someone has etched in the road number on a nearby yellow arrow.

After circling back, we took this road, which is really rough. I mean really rough. Even though it's one of the shorter (less than 4 miles) unpaved roads we drove on this trip, it would be my last choice to drive. There were several wince-inducing dips as we drove along, but eventually we made it to the trailhead, where I was a bit surprised to find 2 other cars already parked here. Considering our campground was nearly empty, and it was a Thursday, and the state of that road we had just driven, I thought there was a good chance we wouldn't see anyone today. I'd be very wrong.

The trail starts off on the dirt road itself, which continues past a locked gate. The road/trail crosses a metal bridge, then starts climbing. In fact the road is the trail for close to 2 miles. After about a mile, we saw some backpackers camped off on the right, next to the creek. Not sure why they decided not to camp near the lake instead. It's not that far.


Continuing on the road, eventually we crossed another gate and at this point the trail narrows. We started crossing some muddy and meadowy parts of trail. There were several creek crossings, none of them of any consequence -- all of them were easy rock-hops. We'd brought our sandals just in case, but we didn't need them.

One of several creek crossings

A couple of big trees blocked the trail, and we had to climb over or around them to continue. Shortly, we came to an intersection. We took the left fork to head to the lake. Soon after the turn, we came to a beautiful big meadow, patches of wildflowers engulfing the trail.

Big meadow

Big meadow

Big meadow

The trail then veers left and crosses the creek again. On the other side of the creek are some ruins, but the only thing left looked like an old 1850's era rusted oven. The climb from here is steady, a little rocky, with the occasional water trickling down the trail. Eventually we made it to another (smaller) meadow. A dog started running around in front of us before their owners put a leash on it. Its owners were a couple and their small child (maybe 3 years old), just leaving the lake.

When we arrived at the lake, we had it to ourselves. We could see camping areas above the lake, with nice campfire rings. There was a nice lunch spot in the shade, with rocks to sit on, and views of the lake a little below. As we were eating lunch, two more dogs came up, shortly followed by their owners, 4 day hikers. They went further up the shore.

Tangle Blue Lake

Tangle Blue Lake

Tangle Blue Lake

One of the campfire rings

We stayed about an hour at the lake before finally leaving around 2pm. Downhill, through the big meadow, and right onto the main trail. On our way back, we ran into a couple backpacking with their dog, and then later a family of 4 with yet another dog. The father asked about the creek crossings, and I assured him they were easy.

Meadow next to the lake

Back to the big meadow

Flowers in the big meadow

Looking back at the big meadow

A snake delays our creek crossing

The backpackers we'd seen by the creek were still there. Well, at least the camp was still there, though we couldn't see the campers. I think they were off exploring nearby, as we could hear voices.


When we arrived at the parking lot, there were now 6 other cars in the lot. We drove back down the bumpy dirt road, trying to be as careful as possible. Unfortunately apparently I wasn't careful enough. The next morning I noticed the pressure was low in one of my front tires. I'm guessing I'd hit a sharp rock with enough force to cause a puncture and a slow leak. Thankfully we had enough pressure to drive to a gas station and get it filled up, and fixed it later. Next time I'll bring a pump and patch kit with me, just in case.

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