Pre-Trip Notes, 1987 Caribou Lake Boot 'n Blister Hike


Big Caribou Lake, Trinity Alps Wilderness, Klamath Mountains, northwestern California


October 3 and 4, 1987

Hike length

The trip is 9.6 mi one way on the newer, easier trail; eight miles on way on the older, steeper, perhaps more scenic trail. You can take one in and the other out.


  • Beginning elevation: , 5,041 ft
  • Lake elevation: , 6,822 ft
  • Highest point on easy trail: , 7,200 ft (2,159-ft gain)
  • Highest point on steeper trail: , 8,118 ft (3,077-ft gain)


  • U.S. Geological Survey Coffee Creek 15' (1:62,500) quadrangle
  • U.S. Geological Survey Caribou Lake 7 1/2' (1:24,000) quad
  • AAA Northwestern California road map

    Driving instructions

    Take California Hwy 299 95 mi east from Arcata or 43 mi west from Redding to Weaverville. Take California Hwy 3 35 mi north past Trinity Center to the Coffee Creek road. Hwy 3 is also accessible off of Interstate 5 from Yreka where it is 64 mi south past Ft. Jones and Callihan to the Coffee Creek Road. Drive west up Coffee Creek road 20.5 mi to the trailhead (last 10 mi is dirt). The gate at Carters Ranch is 0.3 mi too far.


    There is a U.S. Forest Service campground at the upper end of Big Flat. This is a convenient place to car-camp if you arrive Friday evening, October 2. The trail takes off from the southwest side of the meadow. The sign reads "Caribou Trail."


    Precipitation is rare in the fall, but, being among those who have been wet in the Klamaths in October in the past, I will be bringing a light tent. Nights are mild; days can be quite warm.


    The Klamaths have their fair share of black bears. Hang your food at night. There are a few rattlesnakes; bring a snakebite kit. I suspect that the mosquitos will be down near zero in October, but bring your Cutters anyhow. Water is best boiled or run through a water filter. I use a filter pump called "First Need." Bigfoot prints are only a problem if he or she is still standing in them.


    The lower elevations in the eastern Klamath Mountains lie in a mixed conifer forest consisting of Douglas fir with sugar pines, ponderosa pines, incense cedar, California black oak, and white fir. At higher elevations, red fir with western white pine and Brewer spruce are present.


    The hike begins in the Devonian Salmon Hornblende Schist. This rock unit is composed primarily of hornblende, oligoclase or albite, and clinozoisite. It is commonly foliated with lineated amphibole, fine to medium grained, and is locally gneissic. The protolith is probably a basalt that has been metamorphosed to amphibolite grade. The texture varies from schistose in the south to migmatitic in the north. The unit is from 0.5 to 1 mi thick. Radiometric dating of hornblende has established the age of metamorphism at 270 to 286 million years. A small batch of metasedimentary rocks of middle and upper Paleozoic and Triassic age are passed about 6 miles out. The lake is underlain by a Jurassic rock unit called the Caribou Mountain pluton. The rocks there consists almost entirely of trondhjemite. This is a light-colored granitic rock in which sodic plageoclase is the predominant feldspar and potassium feldspar is scarce or absent. The lake basin was carved to roughly its present shape by glaciers that receded 10 to 15,000 years ago leaving behind the present U-shaped valley.


  • Davis, G.A., Holdaway, M.J., Lipman, P.W., and Romey, W.D., 1965, Structure, metamorphism, and plutonism in the south-central Klamath Mountains, California: Geological Society of America Bulletin v. 73, p. 1547-1552.
  • Hart, John, 1975, Hiking the Bigfoot Country: San Francisco, Sierra Club Totebook, 398 p.
  • Hotz, P.E., Thurber, H.K., Marks, L.Y., and Evans, R.K., 1972, Mineral resources of the Salmon-Trinity Alps Primitive Area, California, with a section on An aeromagnetic survey and interpretation, by Andrew Griscom: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1371-B, p. xii + B1-B267.
  • Irwin, W.P., 1977, Review of Paleozoic rocks of the Klamath Mountains, in Stewart, J.H., Stevens, C.H., and Fritsche, A.E., Paleozoic paleogeography of the western United States. Pacific Coast Paleogeography Symposium 1: Los Angeles, Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Pacific Section, p. 441-454.
  • _____1981, Tectonic accretion of the Klamath Mountains: in Ernst, W.G., ed., 1981, The geotectonic development of California, Rubey Volume I: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, p. 29-49.
  • Linkhart, Luther, 1983, The Trinity Alps: a hiking and backpacking guide: Berkeley, Wilderness Press, 206 p.
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