We (Amy, Mike and I) were excited to get out in the wilderness one last time before the predicted Thanksgiving snow. We like Adams Lake in the winter; it’s a short hike for short days.

The trailhead is 16 miles out Coffee Creek Road, so we got an early start — too early it turns out. The sun hadn’t warmed the road yet and we started hitting ice about 10 miles from the trailhead. The ice got progressively thicker until we pulled over to turn around.

We needed a Plan B. Mike suggested pizza. No pizza! Amy and I were determined to hike off the lingering effects of the annual Halloween-candy-binge. So we drove back the way we had come — just a few miles — to East Fork Trail. We had passed by this trail dozens of times, headed to various other trails, but amazingly had never hiked it. We were excited to explore new ground. Yay Plan B!

Off we went, full of enthusiasm. We got maybe 200 yards and the trail abruptly stopped at a creek. We didn’t see the trail continuing across the creek, so we scrambled around on the rocks a bit looking for any sign of trail; a boot-print in the dust, a cairn in the distance, an arrow nailed to a tree. Nope. Nothing. Dead end. Mike suggested pizza. NO PIZZA! Almost back to the car we spotted the ACTUAL trail. Duh. We had just missed it.

Once on the real trail we hiked about a quarter mile and were talking about how lovely it was and how it is our new favorite trail when suddenly, without warning, the trail narrowed to a steeply out-sloped, one-foot wide tread with a vertical death-drop ten miles (so it seemed) down to the creek. I screeched to a stop. Amy, who was a mountain goat in a past life, and Mike, who has no fear of heights, scouted up around the next corner and returned to report that I wasn’t going to like it. Of course, neither of them is bothered by the occasional precipice so I offered to wait for them while they hiked. They, being the best possible best-friends said, “Nah.” So we turned around.

We needed a Plan C. Mike pointed out that it was lunch time and the pizza place would be open by now. Nope, we decided on Boulder Creek Trail at Goldfield Campground. The turnoff was just a mile or two further back toward the town of Coffee Creek. It was a gorgeous day and while driving we were admiring the creek and pointing out osprey nests, and laughing about the failure of Plans A and B, and... Oops! We were back in Coffee Creek; a mere stone’s throw from Trailhead Pizza. I made a quick u-ey before our resolve dissolved and headed back toward Boulder Creek Trail. It couldn’t be far.

FIVE miles later we arrived at the trail with only three hours of hiking time remaining. Boots on the ground and off we went. After 20 minutes we realized that we were starving so we found a sunny spot and lounged by the trail and ate lunch and debated taking a nap. Tempting. But remembering the Halloween candy, we opted for hiking. Good choice — we had a delightful hike.

The Boulder Creek Trail weaves through a forest generously sprinkled with really, really, REALLY big madrone trees. The bark was peeling, and we marveled at the colors. Only a madrone tree knows how to do those colors. There were towering old fir trees, lots of oaks, and a general feeling of forest-wellbeing. We enjoyed tromping through the fallen maple leaves and committed to returning early next October to see the gold leaves before they fall. And mushrooms everywhere!

The trail is steady uphill but not at all steep; the perfect hike for a Plan C type of day. We hiked for an hour and a half then turned around and headed back to the car. Back in Coffee Creek, turning onto Highway 3 toward Weaverville, Mike suggested pizza. Alas, there wasn’t enough time.

If you’re going: Drive out Coffee Creek Road 10 miles until you hit ice, then turn around. Stop for a while at East Fork Trail then drive all the way back to Coffee Creek. Turn around again and drive five miles to the turnoff for Goldfield Campground. Pass the campground and go about half a mile to the trailhead.

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