There are lots of reasons to hike to Deadfall Lakes; I could go on and on for many pages listing wonderful and compelling reasons to take this hike. But the actual truth is that when my friend Frank asked me to take him on a day hike in the Trinities, I picked the trail to Deadfall Lakes from Parks Creek Trailhead based solely on its flatness.
You see, Frank and his wife are serious runners; marathon-type runners. They run in races. PANIC! In the best of times I am slow, and this year, I am even slower because I’ve spent the whole summer sitting on my butt in front of my computer putting my classes online so they would be ready for my students when the semester starts. Oh, and I’ve been eating. And eating. And eating. You get the picture. I desperately needed flat.
There are two trails into the Deadfall Lakes Basin from the overly named Parks Creek Road (also named Forest Route 42N17 and also named the IP Road). The first trail you come to (about 12 miles in) passes through beautiful Deadfall Meadow. I often go this way because the meadow is gorgeous with the trail following a lovely creek through wildflowers that are (seasonally) spectacular. But it is steep, so I chose the other trail this time. Parks Creek Trailhead is a mile further up the road and it has a big parking lot with bathrooms. It’s a busy little place because it is where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses the road. It’s a good place to take a selfie next to the PCT sign and people-watch.
Starting from this upper trailhead you follow the PCT all the way to Lower Deadfall Lake. Being the PCT, the trail is in fantastic shape. And it’s flat. And I mean “flat” in a real way, not “flat” in a time-eases-all-painful-memories way. Right from the beginning there are flowers. And further on the trail crosses several seeps that in the summer are unbelievably thick with wildflowers. Literally an explosion of flowers at every seep. This is truly one of the best wildflower hikes I know. Plus, there are several varieties of orchids. The best time to hike this trail if you are after the flower explosion is early to mid-July. And that’s exactly when Frank and I took our hike. At every flower I had a great excuse to stop and take a picture. In other words, lots of stealthy resting opportunities.
For much of the hike you look down on Deadfall Meadow and gaze across at a distant view of the Trinity Alps. It’s a good section of trail to practice peak-naming, and you get a unique view. For example you can see the basin where Big Bear Lake lives, and I can’t think of anywhere else where you get that view.
After 2.5 miles the trail comes to Lower Deadfall Lake. This is a great place to have lunch. And it’s the end of the flat part. I figured this is where we would stop; our turnaround point. Even with the frequent flower-photos and the flatness I was feeling tired from trying to set a respectable pace. And it was horribly hot. We finished lunch and were just ready to turn around and hike out and so, of course, I suggested we hike on to Upper Deadfall Lake. What the heck?! Was that me that just suggested that?
It’s a one mile steep climb to the upper lake. Once the trail gets to the lakes basin, my attention always switches from flowers to trees. There are some favorite trees along the way that make me feel in familiar territory. A little over half-way to the upper lake the trail skirts a little pond that is practically dry in the summer. This is Middle Deadfall Lake. My friend Susie and I camped here one night and there must have been a million frogs croaking at the top of their frog-lungs all night long. I love that memory. So as we passed the lake I told Frank the story and in a stroke of brilliance I suggested we wait to see if the frogs start croaking. After a respectable wait (rest) and no frogs we hiked on to the upper lake.
The upper lake is right at the base of Mt Eddy. It has great reflections and I could sit and take photos of the reflections for hours (read between the lines). While outwardly admiring the reflections I secretly prayed, “Dear goddess of all non-runners, please don’t let me suggest we hike to the top; please make me keep my mouth shut.” So, as I was just ready to suggest we hike to the top, Frank mentioned that he couldn’t go farther because he was out of water. Thank you goddess of non-runners. I owe you one.