Gumboot Lake is a beautiful seven acre alpine lake located at the 6,050 elevation. It’s nestled in the mountains about 15 miles west of Mt. Shasta, and is easily accessible by paved road.
It used to be known as an excellent fishing lake, but this lake and others in the area are no longer being stocked with fish (as of 2009) due to environmental concerns about the foothills yellow-legged frog. (Always consult the California Dept of Fish and Game stocking schedule because a number of North State Lakes are no longer stocked with fish).
To Get There:
Gumboot Lake is located about 12.5 miles past Lake Siskiyou up Forest Road 26. The road is a two lane paved road for the first couple miles, then becomes a single wide road further up.
The Sacramento River starts out on the right side of the road, then shifts under the road and continues on the left side of the road, as seen in the photo. From time to time, unmarked or poorly marked gravel roads head off to unknown destinations.
We came across a fork in the road, of which the left hand side headed up to Gumboot Lake, and the right side of the road continued on Road 26.
The road follows the upper fork of the Sacramento river which flows in a wide gully filled with rounded river rock and lined with trees. Judging from the size of the river bed at the lower section, the river must have massive amounts of snow runoff in the spring.
Even though it was a Sunday late afternoon when we visited, we encountered other cars every 10 minutes or so. The road is barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, so the driver has to keep attention on the road. People also drive really fast on this road. I’m not a slow driver at all, but I’m always pulling out to let faster traffic through.
Be advised: The road also has very steep drop offs at times with no guard rail, so be careful.
At the time of our visit (8/2/09), there was some heavy road construction equipment located about halfway up doing hillside repair. When I visited a year later, the equipment was gone.
As you drive into the Gumboot Lake area, you see a rough gravel road heading off to the left, which contains the campsites. The main road continues a couple hundred feet to the right to the main access area for the lake. A forest service message board is there, along with a large group camping area, with three rock fire pits.
Also in that area is the short overfill rock dam for Gumboot Lake, along with a gravel road which continues for a short time longer. On the rock dam was an inscription with the year of its construction. I forgot to write it down, but I believe it was 1957.
Panorama of Gumboot Lake:
The lake is extremely quiet, and voices travel over the water with ease. Gas & electric motor boats are not allowed on the lake. The lake is fairly shallow, and is never deeper than 15 feet. It’s my understanding that the lake is bone cold.
Even though fishing is no longer an option, there’s still plenty to do. There’s a trail that goes around the circumference of the lake, and another trail goes to much smaller Upper Gumboot Lake, located 1/3 of a mile away. A number of other lakes are within a two-mile hike.
You could also float around the lake on a rubber raft (motorized boats not allowed). It’s also worthwhile to check out the water lilies and the other flora and fauna that grow in the area. If you’d like to camp, it’s free, and more details are below.
A couple rubber rafts float about in the lake, and a lone fisherman fishes from the dam area. He reports that he’s been fishing for only an hour, but hasn’t had any bites. He says that fishing used to be great when it was stocked with fish.
The lake is surrounded by wildflowers and grass, and you can see water lilies growing at the far side of the lake. The campground amenities are just above primitive: there’s no campground piped water, so you’ll have to make arrangements to supply your own. Fortunately, there’s a set of pit toilets. There’s no garbage cans, so you’ll pack out the trash. The campground is free.
Gumboot Lake is one of the most peaceful places I’ve encountered in a long time. Gumboot Lake has been totally quiet during the times I’ve been there. Unfortunately, I’ve read some disturbing stories online that sometimes the peace is sometimes broken by the party crowd. It’s my thought that the problems might be concentrated on the major holiday weekends. If you’re planning a trip on such a weekend, I’d consider stopping by the lake to visit, but plan on camping elsewhere. With only six campsites that are free with no reservations taken, the odds of securing a campsite are probably low.
If you want to keep exploring past the lake, there’s plenty to see. Continue on FR26 past the Gumboot Lake offshoot, and you’ll drive around in a large semi-circle while climbing. As you’re driving along a hillside, you can see Gumboot Lake off in the distance to the south. You’ll soon hit the Gumboot trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is a little hard to find, and you might have to look around.
If you continue past Gumboot Lake trailhead, you’ll reach a viewpoint at the top that allows spectacular views in all directions. You can see miles of uninterrupted forest, with mountains on the horizon.
If you wish to go further, the road eventually loops back to I-5 at Castella, making for a great tour of the area.
Gumboot Lake is also famous for it’s dragonflys (odites) and bug eating pitcher plants.
Here is a list of the lakes around Gumboot, along with distances:
Upper Gumboot Lake (0.29 mi.) Short walk up the hill to the west.
Cedar Lake (0.80 mi.)
Picayune Lake (0.99 mi.) Located on the opposite side of Road 26.
Lower Cliff Lake (1.20 mi.)
Cliff Lake (1.33 mi.)
Upper Cliff Lake (1.41 mi.)
Upper Mumbo Lake (1.41 mi.)
Mumbo Lake (1.44 mi.)
Terrace Lake (1.70 mi.)
A great resource on the lakes in the area by John Soares, a local Mt. Shasta author and hiker: