Oregon Wild Hikes: Boulder Lake
Boulder Lake is on the east side of Mount Hood and is part of the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Proposal
Part of the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Proposal
Distance: five miles
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
Season: late spring through early fall
Maps: US Forest Service District Offices (see below)
About the Hike
Discover one of the Mount Hood National Forest's best-kept secrets! Boulder Lake is adjacent to the Badger Creek Wilderness and hides between old-growth forests and high mountain cliffs.
While there are several trails in the Boulder Lake area, the most satisfying and easiest to find trail is the Boulder Lake Trail #463. On your way to Boulder Lake's stunning turquoise green with crystal clear waters, you'll pass dark evergreen firs and hemlocks and a lush high elevation meadow. The Boulder Lake area boasts pristine old-growth Pacific silver fir forests and contains the largest unprotected stand of old-growth in the Mount Hood National Forest. In addition, the area's wild meadows provide high quality fawning and calving areas for deer and elk.
Season variations in the Boulder Lake area make this a place to visit every season (except winter, when the roads are inaccessible). After May, the roads to this wild gem are usually open, offering a bountiful wildflower display. Don't miss this area during the summer, when the lush green grasses and meadows attract abundant elk. In the fall, look for Quaking Aspen glowing brilliant yellow in rock outcroppings.
Oregon Wild and other conservation groups are currently working to gain Wilderness protection for the Boulder Lake area as part of the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness proposal.
Wilderness protection would forever safeguard the land from logging, mining, and other development while preserving the public’s right to enjoy backcountry recreation.
From Portland take I-84 East to Hood River. Take the 3rd Hood River exit to go south on Hwy 35. Stay on Hwy 35 until you get to the White River East Sno Park (on your left), the turn off is immediately before crossing the big volcanic ash and gravel wash at the White River bridge. Turn left into the sno park lot and left onto FS Road 48. FS Road 48 exits the back of the large sno park lot.
To drive to what is the easiest access to Boulder Lake, the Boulder Lake Trail #463, continue approximately 14.5 miles on FS Road 48, turn left onto FS Road 4880. If you see a sign reading "Boulder Ditch" you've gone to far. Stay on 4880 for approx 6 miles to the trail head. Just over 2 miles on 4880, there will be one fork in the road (stay right) as the road turns to gravel for the last 4 miles. There is a parking area on the left side of the road and the trail begins here heading up the hill to Spinning and Boulder Lakes. This road dead ends shortly after, so if you get to the end of the road, just turn around and look for the wide spot in the road. All the roads are marked, and there are signs, nonetheless always good to bring a map. Here is a link to Google Maps for reference, for accurate directions please use with a Forest Service map. Total Drive time is about 1:45.
A Northwest Forest Pass is not currently needed to park at the Boulder Lake Trailhead. Northwest Forest Passes are generally required at developed trailheads, which contain a picnic table and a restroom facility.
Bring a map, as finding trails in the Boulder Lake area can be difficult. Forest Service maps of Mount Hood and of the Barlow District (where the Boulder Lake area is located) are available at Mount Hood Ranger Stations, or at Nature of the Northwest in Portland.
For More Information
Contact Oregon Wild’s Portland office at (503) 283-6343 or visit our Wilderness pages here. The Forest Services' Mount Hood website also contains useful info.