I have done this hike so many times I could probably do it blindfolded. That being said, and due to its popularity, there is usually other hikers there. Today, however, these beauties were all mine. A very rare and special treat!
Getting to this trailhead is a journey in itself. Once you leave the Mountain Loop Highway there’s enormous potholes that will damage your car if you do not take caution. I drove all 5 miles of gravel road in my little Toyota Echo and scraped bottom a few times while still being careful. It’s plenty of fun dodging all the obstacles, just play it safe.
Once on the trail to Boardman Lake you will be quickly rewarded with the dazzling appearance of Even Lake. A quiet and shallower little brother to the grand finale, Boardman. The entire route is only 2 miles roundtrip with a quick 300 foot elevation gain. It almost feels like cheating when you can reach such pristine waters and woodland with such ease.
Just when the calves begin to burn and your breathing speeds up you have already arrived to your destination. Boardman Lake. You will find it nestled into an alpine setting with several little beaches along its shore. Hop across a log jam to find several great camping spots. This is an excellent choice for a first backpacking trip or even a first hike. It really has it all for the little effort needed to get to this PNW paradise.
From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway, head east for 11 miles to the Verlot Public Service Center. Proceed 4.6 more miles, turning right onto Forest Road 4020 signed for Boardman Lake, Ashland Lakes, and Bear/Pinnacle lakes. Follow this gravel road for 5 miles, watching the signs and staying left.