China Spring Trail to Grizzly Lake is a 11.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Forks of Salmon, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
What a treat! This is a hard hike and took me about 7 hours to get to the meadow. If you plan to go to the lake from the trailhead give yourself plenty of time. The hardest part besides the scramble at the end is the long uphill at the beginning followed immediately by a taxing downhill. Nothing crazy just long. After the hard down you take a long gradual climb to the meadow. What a sight once you finally come into the meadow. Truly an amazing place. Plan to go in mid spring to see the falls raging. I'm not sure if you can cross the falls when they are running hard though. If not your camp sites are limited!
Be aware! When heading up the scramble stay left, there is a point where the trail splits and the left side looks harder than the right. Don't be fooled it's not bad, the right is almost a downright rock climb and there were times I was unsure of our situation. Totally worth every step you take!
One more note, the trailhead is on 37N07, also known as rays gulch I believe, and not 37N02 as labeled on this site. Heading towards 37N02 though you will see signs, follow them they are right.
We actually did the China Gulch TH to Grizzly Lake for a 3 day, 2 night trip. What a workout and amazing experience! The lake was so beautiful. I plan to go back again next year in mid July to see the wildflowers and hopefully experience the falls. I'd love to extend the trip by a day or two and try to summit Thompson Peak.
This was my first hike since quitting a 38 year pack a day cigarette habit 8 weeks ago. I am also about 50 lbs overweight at 240. I would say it was taxing to say the least on the uphill portions and down right brutal coming back up the hill to hunters camp. My brother and I left China Gulch trailhead at 8am and reached the end of the Meadows and set up camp. No time to make the lake but a 3 day hike planned to make the lake and Thompson peak soon. I think sheer stubbornness got my butt up that hill.
Demanding and rewarding, couldn't ask for a more spectacular view. Our GPS had us logged at a little over 14 miles. Due to minimal manning in the forestry department there are lots of downed trees and some shrubs trying to overtake the trail on the backside of the first mountain climb. The rock "scramble" at the end up to the lake isn't for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, this hike is not for you.
The beginning of the trail lures you in and then starts a brutal uphill. The steep uphill to the lake is shorter but steeper and more difficult. We went up just left of the creek which was more direct but borderline rock climbing in several spots and pretty tiring with a full pack.
Start going up earlier in the boulder field and you can take some semi marked routes up that are a bit easier.
Either way it's definitely not easy but the lake and cliff at the falls are incredible.
This trail is very difficult and beautiful. From the trailhead the trail is very easy for the first few hundred yards. However, after that it starts to get tough to the top of the hill at Hunters Camp which is 2 miles from the trailhead. From Hunters Camp the trail goes down hill to the junction of the trail to Hobo Gulch Trailhead. From the junction follow the trail to Grizzly Meadows and to the lake. The trail is fairly gradual to Grizzly Meadows. There is plenty of water along this portion of the trail. There was a large fire in the area a few years ago and the trail will show the signs of the fire. The forest is growing back. Once arriving to Grizzly Meadows there are plenty of camp spots to choose from. From the meadows it's another mile to the lake. This is the most difficult part of the trail. The trail now becomes a scramble. Rock ducks will show the way through a granite slide up and through a granite cliff. This accessible but very steep with some loose rock and gravel. This part of the trail I do not recommend having dogs. Once you get to the lake there is a couple of camp spots, however, I don't recommend having a bulky or heavy pack since you can loose your balance. It can be done. The lake is spectacular. The water is very clear. As you walk on the trail you will get closer to Grizzly Falls. This fall probably drops about 100 feet down to the granite slide below. Very spectacular. This app indicates it is a 13 mile round trip. My GPS said 16 miles round trip. So be prepared to leave the trailhead early. It will take 3 to 4 hours depending on your walking ability and how in shape you are in. All in all this is a great hike and trail.