Crystal and Baum Lakes is a 2.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Cassel, California and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, canoeing, and whitewater kayaking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
This hike is on the stretch of the PCT between the Baum Lake parking lot and Hwy 299. From Baum it is 3.7 miles of mostly flat oak/conifer forest. If you have 2 cars, you can park one in the Baum parking lot and the other at Hwy 299 and Cassel Rd. The trail is very well marked with the PCT placards on trees. We did this after a snow and had no trouble navigating. The local wildlife uses the trail heavily as evidenced by the deer and coyote tracks/scat in the snow. There is a Bald Eagle family living atop a large pine as you walk along the lakeside before the trail rises and leaves the lake. About 10 minutes into the hike, look for a thick trunked dead tree that looks to have fell many years back and only the bottom half remains standing. From that tree looking north, the next few tall trees will have the eagle. I have fished this lake for more than 10 years in the winter months and the eagle is always around someplace. Baum is a stellar trout lake in the winter Dec-Mar. if you fly fish, you will be particularly rewarded by using a zebra midge sized 18-22 and a BWO emerger in olive for planted Brown and Rainbow trout. The hike is nothing spectacular, but a nice winter stroll for sure.