The Mumbo Lakes lie at the head of Mumbo Basin.
Most of the lakes in the Trinity Divide are found on the range’s east side. Excluding the rarely visited southern third of the range, there are only three lake basins that feed west into the Trinity River. The most heavily visited is Deadfall Basin, which rates among the most well known and beautiful in the entire range. Further south lies solitary Picayune Lake, which, being on private property, is not a destination for hikers. This leaves Mumbo Basin as the only other lake basin on the west side of the Divide. However, the lakes are only a small component of this large mountain bowl. Rugged peaks and ridges, remote forests, lush meadows, lively Mumbo Creek and great views of the Trinity Alps are also highlights of this area. In spite of all these great features and access by way of a good paved road, Mumbo Basin tends to be overlooked as a good destination for exploring.
The lack of attention is due, no doubt, to the lack of established trails in the area. This should not preclude motivated hikers from venturing out to the west side of the Trinity Divide and exploring the ridges and roads that permeate the area. Most people who do head into Mumbo Basin do so to reach Mumbo Lake. It is among the smaller lakes in the Trinity Divide but it is easily accessible via the paved road just a short distance past Gumboot Saddle. It is a good lake for swimming and camping. Hikers comfortable with cross country travel can climb higher into the uppermost section of the basin and find shallow Upper Mumbo Lake. The rocky summit of Peak 7,149, also dubbed Many Lakes Mountain rises above the Mumbo Lakes, giving them a very scenic backdrop. The Pacific Crest Trail cuts across the flanks of this peak, high above the lake, which also offers great views of the basin.
Though there are no really established trails, there are a few good options for adventurous hikers. The most trail-like option is the remnants of the old Blue Divide Trail. This was once a trail that descended from the crest of the Trinity Divide down to ridges directly above the main branch of the Trinity River. The trail has essentially been abandoned but many sections of the path are still extant and open to hikers. Following roads along the north rim of Mumbo Basin, it is possible to pick up the trail and proceed out to an overlook with spectacular views of the Trinity Alps, the Scott Mountains, Mount Eddy and Mount Shasta, as well as Mumbo Basin itself. The trail continues beyond the vista but the destinations become more ambiguous. Even when the Blue Divide Trail was a maintained path, this was one of the few trails on the western side of the Trinity Divide. Now, other than Deadfall Basin, there are none. Though the area has experienced a lot of logging, it would be nice to see some old trails rehabilitated or new ones built.
The other good option for hikers is the cross country scramble along a ridge on the south side of Mumbo Basin. This route has a very faint use trail at the beginning and then quickly becomes a simple scramble with no trail along the ridge. Fortunately, the terrain is pretty open and easy to follow and does not require much bushwhacking. Small meadows lie immediately below the ridge and hikers have good views of these as well the interior of Mumbo Basin. It also affords the unusual perspective of Mount Shasta rising above the crest of the Trinity Divide. The hike ends at the terminus of the ridge where there are incredible views of the Trinity Alps to the west. The nearest points of the Trinities lie just a few miles distant, on the far side of the Trinity River. Some of this hike crosses private timber land but passage is OK as long as there is no camping and no fires.
The one consistent feature of the Blue Divide Trail and the South Mumbo Scramble is great views of the Trinity Alps. Being on the west side of the Trinity Divide means that the rugged mountains of the Trinties are more easily observed than from other places in the Trinity Divide.
Now is a great time to head up to Mumbo Basin and experience a somewhat more unusual hiking experience than you normally find in most of the rest of the Trinity Divide!