Red Buttes Wilderness- PCT, Boundary Trail, and Towhead Lake

Posted by dalonzo99 dalonzo99
This is a hike you could do as a long day trip or take your time and spend several days camping out at the beautiful Towhead lake. I went in Friday afternoon. From Cook and Green Pass you follow the PCT south (it actually goes more west at this point of the trail) for about 4 miles. Along the way you will go past Echo Canyon. From the ridge above the canyon you can look down and see Echo Lake. There is a faint trail that leads down to the lake, but it's kind of hard to follow. Just beyond that you will cross the base of Red Butte Mountain. At about the four mile mark you will come to a small lake/pond down to the left. This is Lily Pad Lake. On the opposite side of the trail is a large canyon. About a half mile down the canyon lies Towhead Lake. From the viewpoint at the top of the canyon you may be able to catch glimpses of the lake through the trees. There is no official trail to the lake, but there is a faint "unofficial" trail. The lake lies in a small rocky basin between Kangaroo mountain and Red Butte Mountain. Just beyond Towhead lake is a large rock cliff that drops further into the canyon with Hello Lake down below. This location would become my home for Friday and Saturday night. Saturday I left my basecamp at the lake and headed back up the canyon. I followed the PCT west for about a mile and then took the Boundary Trail north. I followed the Boundary trail for about 3 miles and got excellent views of Desolation Gulch, Desolation Peak, and Rattlesnake Peak. From there I turned around and headed back to the PCT. From here I continued South/west for about 1.5 miles to Devils Peak before starting to head back toward camp. Before making it all the way back to camp I decided to try another ridge. My map showed another small lake just below the ridge that heads south right by Lily Pad Lake. I followed the ridge for about a half mile (again, no official trail) before I saw the lake. The lake was very clear and pretty, but it looked like it was very hard to get down too. I didn't figure it was worth the effort, but I was happy I got to see it. Afterward, I went back to camp. Sunday morning I packed up my stuff and headed back to the trailhead. In all, I did about 23 miles of hiking, but you can easily do more or less. I also recommend climbing to the summit of Red Butte, although I didn't do it on this trip. There is no trail to the summit and from the PCT you will have to do a little bushwacking, but it's not too bad. Climb up to the saddle on the east side of Red Butte and then head west up the summit.