Stoddard Lake is a 6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Trinity Center, California that features a great forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
What little trail information I could pull together on this hike was incorrect. First, it is not 3.5 miles one way; it is 4.5 miles one way. It is not "Easy/Moderate", it is moderate to somewhat strenuous in parts.
This is one of the easier Trinity hikes. We added on McDonald & a scramble up to Upper Stoddard, then had a refreshing swim from the north shore of the lake where it looked less mucky. One of the meadows we passed through was filled with pitcher plants, a.k.a. cobra plants.
Sonya ST gives the perfect description. This trail can be very challenging in certain places. It is not as easy as the trail descriptions say it is. But, all in all it is well worth the effort.
What little trail information I could pull together on this hike was incorrect. First, it is not 3.5 miles one way; it is 4.4 miles one way. It is not "Easy/Moderate", it is moderate to somewhat demanding in parts.
The trailhead can be difficult to find because of the logging roads that shoot off the main dirt road. We took two wrong roads before getting it right. The road is rough and a 4x4 is recommended.
The trailhead is at 5134 ft elevation and the peak climb is 5934, for an elevation gain of 800, however, this is deceiving because much of this trail is steep. By the time we went up and down and up and down, our round trip elevation gain was 1,982 according to my GPS and hike tracker!
About 1/3 of the trail is rocky, so wear good sturdy shoes. This is the only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 (tough on the feet). We had to do a little rock "scrambling" toward the last mile.
At mile 1.75 there was still a spring running in mid-Sept. and it feeds into a beautiful meadow. It's great if you have your 4-legged friends along so it saves some of your water. At mile 3, there's another spring and the turnoff to the left for Stoddard Lake and to the right for Doe Lake. We took the left and from that point, Stoddard Lake was another 1.5 miles straight up in a rocky wash. We did not even sight the lake until we had hiked in 4.3 miles...but when we did, it was all worth it!
The two of us and our dog were the ONLY people at this whole big, beautiful lake. In fact, we never saw a single soul the entire trip! Granite mountains jutted up on the opposite shore and the sight was breathtaking. Both of us jumped in and took a swim. It was not too cold in Sept. and that sure did hit the spot! A great spot to have lunch or pitch a tent as we saw evidence of a prior backpacker. The RT took about 3-hrs and that beer sure tasted good when we came down! We would definitely hike this again!